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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/17/08)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
What’s become of The Tin Man since he left the yellow brick road of his active racing career in October of 2007?
Saturday’s feature attraction – the initial running of Arlington Park’s $53,400 The Tin Man Stakes – begged the question. The weekend’s main event was an overnight stakes was named in honor of the horse who won the Arlington Million two years ago and then just missed last summer in a quest to become the first horse to win it two years in a row.
However, what has happened to the gallant gelding – now a 10-year-old – whose life was threatened by serious illness complications following his retirement?
“The Tin Man is out of danger now,” said a sincerely grateful owner Ralph Todd this weekend when speaking over the phone from his Southern California home. “I see him almost every day, and I can tell you he is walking a lot better. He is still a little stiff-legged – there is not much bending of the knee – but his knee is cold and I can tell you that the horse is happy.
“Visually, you can see the improvement day by day,” said Todd, “and he’s become a lot more animated since we’ve been able to turn him out in the paddock again. He is doing great, but what really makes me feel good is to see the reaction people have when they go out of their way to come to the farm to visit him.
“I tell people who want to visit him: ‘You know, we’re not exactly around the corner from Santa Anita up here.’ We’re a good two hours away,” said Todd. “But they say, ‘No problem,’ and show up anyway. Not long ago, we had people come all the way from Tucson to see him, and then the other day I received a box of apples that someone from Fresno sent to him. Someone else handed me an envelope recently, and when I opened it there was a check for $20 in it, with a note of instruction saying it was to be used to buy some treats for The Tin Man.
“I’m humbled, and of course very grateful for the love so many people have shown this horse,” said Todd. “Of course, he’s like a member of the family to us, but I can relate to it a little bit, because I remember years ago when – strictly as a racing fan – I felt much that same kind of affection for Native Diver.”
Nineteen years ago, when the new Arlington facility first opened, a new wager called the Daily Triple was introduced on the first three races of the day. As a wager, it was short-lived, but if it had existed Saturday, jockey E. T. Baird, trainer Wayne Catalano and owner Frank Calabrese would have swept all three legs of it.
Casey’s on Call, a 2-year-old first time starter, won Saturday’s first race for that team, and they came right back to take the second half of the Daily Double with Gnightsweetdarlin, a 3-year-old filly also making the first start of her career.
The E.T.-Cat-Cal Triple was completed when Countess Dee won the third race of the afternoon following a pair of runner-up finishes in her two previous starts.
Calabrese, incidentally, has more than four times as many victories as his nearest pursuer on his way to his ninth straight title as Arlington’s winningest owner, while Catalano has twice as many wins as his nearest pursuers entering Sunday’s races in defense of his trainer championship.
Baird, who arrived well after Arlington’s 2008 season was underway, has advanced steadily and is now 12th in the standings entering Sunday’s races.
Jockey James Graham recorded a riding double Saturday, winning the sixth race aboard Rusty Arnold’s Never Lie and the ninth on Michael Coit, Gerald Frankel and Ronald Frankel’s Montana Mike.
Rusty Arnold also tallied with a training double. After winning the sixth with his own Never Lie, he came back to capture the 10th race with Du-Zee Stables’ Miss Triss.
In Saturday’s inaugural “Beat the Pros” handicapping contest at Arlington Park, Twin Spires Club members solidly defeated Arlington’s team of five handicappers designated as “the pros” for purposes of the contest.
Ron Uchman, handicapper for arlingtonpark.com, was the leader among the four pros with $100.20, while that total was dwarfed by the contest’s top “amateur,” who amassed a total of $1,710.45.
The second- and third-place finishers respectively among the amateurs recorded totals of $676 and $438.90 respectively.
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