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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/16/08)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Stefan Friborg’s Natagora won Great Britain’s Group I 1000 Guineas two weeks ago, and His Highness The Aga Khan’s Zarkava won France’s Group I 1000 Guineas last weekend, but Arlington Park’s inaugural running of the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas on May 24 might be won by a Chicagoan.

The worldwide enthusiasm for racing 3-year-old fillies on the grass has now been effectively endorsed by the United States, where the connections of 33 sophomore members of the distaff set have nominated their charges to Arlington’s American 1000 Guineas.

“In this day and age when you can get that many nominations to a stakes race that has never been run before, you’ve got to be pretty excited,” said Kevin Greely, Arlington’s vice president of racing and racing secretary. “This is a race we can build on.”

Greely originally proposed the idea of a one-mile grass race for 3-year-old fillies at Arlington because he thought it would be well received by horsemen throughout North America, and that theory has obviously proved productive. Also, as an added incentive, the winner will receive an automatic invitation to Hollywood Park’s Grade I American Oaks Invitational July 5.

A supplementary nomination of $8,000 may be made to the newest $200,000 test over Arlington’s world famous turf course by Wednesday, May 21.

Ironically, one of the original nominations to the northwest Chicago oval’s latest venture is named Cubs Fan, owned by the Mt. Joy Stables of Brian Burns et al. That local family won Arlington’s Grade II American Derby in 1992.

The Chicago Cubs are presently in first place in the National League’s Central Division with a dominant home record at Wrigley Field, and the filly Cubs Fan is due to arrive Monday at Arlington Park after being shipped from Calder Race Course in South Florida.

Another nominee to next weekend’s American 1000 Guineas is 2007’s Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie heroine Dreaming of Liz, owned by native Chicagoan and Arlington’s perennial leading owner champion Frank Calabrese.

Dreaming of Liz worked Friday morning at Arlington, breezing five furlongs over the Polytrack course in :59.80.


Apprentice jockey Brandon Meier, an undefeated one-for-one in his own career with his second career mount coming Saturday afternoon, will be teamed with his father – veteran Illinois-based reinsman Randy Meier – as guests during this season’s first “Breakfast At Arlington” program on Saturday morning.

Those in attendance at “Breakfast At Arlington” get to watch horses go through their morning workouts while enjoying a breakfast buffet. Another scheduled guest Saturday is Kevin Greely, Arlington’s vice president of racing and racing secretary, who will talk about the inaugural running of the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas on May 24 at Arlington.

Returning as one of the hosts of the “Breakfast At Arlington” program will be trainer Liane Davis, who has saddled two winners through the first eight days of the local meeting.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Davis earlier in the week. “I love meeting the people there, and I like to be there to talk to the guests and answer a lot of their questions. I’ll be there with bells on.”

Davis’s daughter Meagan, 19, a full-time student at Western University in Macomb, Illinois, is currently working for Four Footed Fotos, Arlington’s track photographer.


Thunderhead Farms’ Clever Strike rebounded from a fifth-place finish in Oaklawn’s Grade I Apple Blossom April 5 to win Thursday’s seventh race on the grass at Arlington.

What might be next for the daughter of Smart Strike out of a Clever Trick mare following that courageous head tally despite constant pressure?

“I’d like to keep her on the grass and see if she continues to move forward,” said trainer Don Von Hemel.

Asked if this summer’s Grade III Modesty Handicap July 12 could be in Clever Strike’s future, Von Hemel added: “That’s certainly a possibility. This game is built on dreams. We all have to have those.”

Speaking of exciting futures, Von Hemel’ granddaughter Molly Young, 18, a freshman at the University of Nebraska majoring in journalism, is currently enjoying a summer internship at American University in Washington, DC.

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