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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/19/08)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Veteran jockey Jesse Campbell, who suffered neck and shoulder injuries at Arlington in a spill Sept. 6, wasted little time getting back to the local winner’s circle by scoring a three-quarter length victory with his first mount back in Thursday’s opener.
Riding George Mellon’s Oro Gatita, trained by his father Michael Campbell, the 30-year-old native completed his golden, catty move outside the leaders in the last strides to be best at the wire. Oro Gatita’s victory was made more significant by the strong handling from a jockey who is recovering from a slight tear in his rotator cuff and a hairline fracture of his collar bone.
Through Thursday’s races, Campbell leads Irish-born jockey James Graham by two wins in their hotly-contested duel for runner-up leading rider honors at the meeting. There are three days of racing remaining at Arlington Park this summer, which brings down the curtain for 2008 live racing Sunday.
Arlington champion jockey Rene Douglas is successfully defending his title from last season, but neither Campbell nor Graham have finished as the runner-up (or – for that matter – in the third spot) and will both will be ending their best local seasons.
Leading apprentice honors at the local meeting are also still up for grabs with current leader Brandon Meier on top of runner-up “bug girl” Inez Karlsson by two victories.
However, the 20-year-old Meier has left Chicago to ride on the prestigious Southern California circuit, leaving the red-hot 23-year-old Swedish native with a plethoric 26 opportunities to equal or surpass the younger Meier.
After saddling about twice as many winners as his nearest pursuer in Arlington’s leading trainer honors for 2008, defending champion Wayne Catalano is assured his fourth straight title as Arlington’s leading conditioner, fifth in the last six years, and seventh in the last nine seasons.
Native Illinoisan Chris Block maintains the runner-up spot with 30 winners entering Friday’s races, but 2004 trainer champ Frank Kirby has 29, Mexican-born Moises Yanez has 28, and Eclipse-Award champion trainer Todd Pletcher (with his local horses under the care of valued assistant Michael Dilger) has 27.
Despite his youth, 19-year-old jockey Tanner Riggs has already graduated from the apprentice ranks and reinforced his status as a talented journeyman with a riding triple at Arlington Thursday.
The native of South Dakota started off his “hat trick” by guiding John Conforti’s Get Out of the Rain to win in the fourth race for trainer Ron Goodridge, came right back to the winner’s circle in the fifth with Todd Ingram’s Mizzcan’tbewrong for conditioner Jordan Olesiak; and completed his threesome astride A Slick Chic, owned by Balkrisna Sukharan and trained by Jamie Ness.
Trainer Mike Stidham saddled a training double on Thursday’s program, giving jockey Diego Sanchez a riding double in the process.
Stidham and Sanchez combined their talents with Don Fizer’s Greenhill Charlie in the eighth race and closed out their tandem afternoon double when Yellow Sam Stable’s Zip Zaheri captured the finale.
Miller Racing Stable and Mike Conway’s Dynaman may be something of a longshot in Saturday’s $50,000 John Henry Stakes over Arlington Park’s world-famous turf course, but beware the steadily improving horse in any field.
As a son of the good grass sire Dynaformer, Dynaman has won his last three starts since coming to the barn of trainer Danny Miller earlier this year.
“We bought this horse at a sale in January,” said Miller, “so we don’t really know why he was off five months last year, but ever since we got him he’s been fine. His first race for us at Hawthorne was on the dirt, and the second one was scheduled for the grass but taken off, and then the first time he ran on the grass for us he probably needed the race.
“But since then he’s done everything he’s been asked to do,” said Miller. “We usually give him about 30 days between his races, and this will be more like 42 days coming into Saturday’s race, but I don’t think that should bother him. He’s a nice horse to be around, and he’s got a lot of class about him.”
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