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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/23/08)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

SPOTSGONE GETS GREEN LIGHT; RED-HOT FIRES IN IRONS

“Strike while the iron is hot,” the old adage says, and that may be exactly what defending champion Spotsgone will be doing in Saturday’s Grade III Hanshin Cup at Arlington Park.

“He’s doing good right now,” said trainer Jinks Fires Thursday, shortly after arriving at Arlington from his Louisville base of operations. “He breezed Saturday at Churchill (five furlongs in 1:02.3), and I walked him this morning here, so I know he’s sitting on ready.”

That was not the case in Spotsgone’s most recent race, according to the trainer and the chart footnote for the Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby Day. Unfortunately, the 5-year-old Robert Yagos color bearer was carried out at the start.

“He had that early trouble and then he was kept wide all the way,” said Fires. “It wasn’t Joe’s (jockey Johnson) fault. He’s ridden some very good races for me aboard this horse. In fact, if this race Saturday were at Churchill – Joe would be riding him again.

“However, Earlie rides him in Chicago,” Fires said of his Hall of Fame brother, who was aboard Spotsgone for his upset win in last year’s Hanshin. The bay Kentucky-bred lit up the tote-board with a $165 win mutuel that day.

“He’s just a little horse nobody ever believes in,” said the trainer of Spotsone – a horse who would go over the half-million dollar mark in career earnings with a win in Saturday’s Hanshin – “but he sure stepped up to the plate that day.”

Also stepping up to the plate this season at Arlington is Earlie Fires, Arlington’s all-time leading rider, who with nine wins (including two riding triples) so far, has won with more than half of his mounts at the local session.

SMOOTH AIR SETTLES AT ARLINGTON PRIOR TO OHIO DERBY

At this time there are two contestants from this spring’s Kentucky Derby that are in residence on Arlington Park’s backstretch.

Louis Roussel III and Ronnie Lamarque’s Recapturetheglory, fifth in the Run for the Roses May 3, is currently stabled in Barn 1 while recovering from setbacks that forced his late withdrawal from the Preakness, but Mount Joy Stable’s Smooth Air, who arrived at Arlington from South Florida a fortnight after his 11th–place finish in the Derby, will journey to Cleveland late next week to contest Thistledown’s Grade II Ohio Derby May 31.

“People forget that we were second in the (Grade I) Florida Derby behind Big Brown,” said Mount Joy’s Brian Burns at Arlington this week while referring to Smooth Air. “Of course, he beat us by five lengths, but we finished far in front of the third-place runner. The way I look at it, if Big Brown hadn’t been in it, we would have won the Florida Derby by seven and a half lengths.

“We lost all chance in the Kentucky Derby right at the start,” said Burns. “Our horse runs his best race on or near the lead. As soon as they left the gate, I turned to my wife and said: ‘We just lost the Kentucky Derby.’ ”

DEFENDING CHAMP DOUGLAS RIDES FOURTH TRIPLE THURSDAY

Jockey Rene Douglas, the only rider in history to win four straight Arlington Park riding titles, accomplished his fourth riding triple of the season Thursday on what was the 12th race day of a 96-day meeting.

Thursday’s “hat trick” gave the native of Panama 24 wins from 71 mounts, more than twice as many as his nearest pursuer.

Currently in second position in the local riding standings is Eddie Razo, who captured the jockey championship at Oaklawn Park this winter. Razo, born in Mexico but a longtime Long Grove resident, has made 13 trips to the winner’s circle from 52 mounts.

SUNDAY’S FAMILY DAY FEATURES HOLIDAY WEEKEND ATTRACTIONS

Sandwiched between two graded stakes days at Arlington Park over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is Sunday’s Pepsi Family Day, presented by the Daily Herald.

Kids will have a chance to make their own music video when music experts will put them in front of a “green screen” that will superimpose them onto a psychedelic background, and the youngsters then get to sing like the pros.

Also, Arlington Park’s Junior Jockey Club members may come to the paddock from 11:45 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. this Sunday to find out all about the equipment a jockey uses during the program entitled “Jockey and Valet Show and Tell.”

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