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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/1/08)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

BRANDON COUNTERS WITH SUNDAY PUNCH RIDING DOUBLE

Apprentice jockey Brandon Meier landed a significant counterpunch Sunday in the battle for leading apprentice honors this summer at Arlington, winning two races to increase his lead to eight victories over rival “bug” rider Inez Karlsson.

One day earlier, Karlsson scored a riding triple to close the gap between them, but Karlsson went winless Sunday. There are now 13 racing days remaining in Arlington Park’s 2008 season entering Monday’s Labor Day program.

Meier, a 20-year-old native of nearby Elk Grove Village, cut the teeth of his career as a jockey on May 11 – literally. Meier won that riding debut by 4 1/4 lengths aboard Frank Calabrese’s Houseboat, but suffered some fractured teeth and received seven stitches as a result of a starting gate mishap with that mount.

Bloodied but unbowed, Meier, the son of Illinois veteran reinsman Randy Meier, then returned to the winner’s circle repeatedly throughout the early days of the season, quickly building an impressive number of victories – mostly aboard the familiar black and white silks of Arlington’s perennial leading owner.

“I owe a lot to Mr. Calabrese,” Meier said Monday morning following his riding double. “He is the key part to any success I have had this summer. A lot of people are riding me now, but he’s the man that started me out. Because I started at Arlington, I didn’t have the advantage of any previous business left over from Hawthorne. I couldn’t have had anything like the summer I have had without Mr. Calabrese.”

Meier is also grateful to Wayne Catalano, Calabrese’s trainer who began young Meier’s schooling around the barn area last summer.

“We did a lot of homework over the winter,” said Meier of Catalano’s horsemanship contributions. “He would have me watching the races in Florida and then review them with me, pointing out the different things that happened during each race. He taught me a lot that way, and then when I started riding, he said, ‘You know now what you have to do – go out and do it.’

“I’m just happy I’m doing as well as I have up to now,” concluded Meier. “Inez is doing great, too, and that’s probably a good thing for both of us. It helps when you have some competition, and to have two apprentices doing as well as we have during an Arlington meeting – that’s just awesome.”

Entering Arlington’s Labor Day program, Meier was tied for fourth in the overall standings with 54 wins, while Karlsson was in the seventh spot following 46 trips to the winner’s circle.

‘HERE’S TO THE LADIES!’ THIS SATURDAY AT ARLINGTON PARK

Members of the distaff set – of both the equine and human variety – become the featured performers when Arlington Park hosts its “Ladies Day” program this Saturday.

For the horsy set, 2-year-old fillies get to make their nationally recognized debut in Arlington Park’s 74th running of the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie – Chicago’s main event for female juveniles run at one mile over Polytrack.

However, 3-year-old fillies – again this year to include grass-favoring sophomores of international caliber – also get their moment on the stage of Arlington’s world-famous turf course in Arlington’s 44th renewal of the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes at a mile and an eighth over the local lawn.

The Pucker Up, won last year by Frank Calabrese’s Dreaming of Anna, offers a $200,000 purse. The Lassie, captured last season by Calabrese’s Dreaming of Liz, has a purse of $150,000.

On Saturday, Dreaming of Liz will attempt to become the first filly in Arlington Park history to follow her Lassie triumph with a score in the Pucker Up in a subsequent season.

Not to be overlooked, however, Arlington’s female fans also get their own special day Saturday with the renewal of the northwest Chicago oval’s annual “Ladies Day.”

At the base of the Grand Staircase there will be complementary spa treatments offered during the afternoon.

There will also be a Hat Contest for ladies wearing fashion hats, and those doing so will also benefit from a reduced admission charge of $3.

Melissa McGurren from “The Eric & Kathy Show” on WTMX (The Mix) will be on hand from 1 pm to 3 pm to serve as a celebrity judge for the hat contest.

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