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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/21/09)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Arlington Park event manager Allyson Campbell stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam home run last month – and was presented with Arlington’s ASPIRE Award for those efforts above and beyond the call of duty last Wednesday.
Ironically, she was awarded center stage in paddock ceremonies on the one day in the last six racing days when her husband, Arlington Park jockey Jesse Campbell, did not celebrate a multi-win afternoon on his own.
Allyson received her ASPIRE Award for organizing last month’s golf tournament to benefit jockey Rene Douglas – severely injured earlier this season during a racing accident at Arlington May 23.
Jesse, raised in nearby Lake Zurich, Illinois, has been the hottest rider on the grounds lately, and continued his ascension up the local standings with a riding double Thursday.
However, in spite of the recent riding resurgence of Jesse, the most valuable player award for the couple in 2009 (still celebrating initial year of their marriage) goes to Allyson, and she recounted how the golf tournament to benefit Arlington’s six-time riding champion Douglas all came to fruition on Friday morning.
“Two years ago,” Ms. Campbell said, “when (jockeys) Israel (Ocampo), Uriel (Lopez) and Cecilio (Penalba) went down in that three-horse spill, Jesse turned to me and said, ‘Allyson, we have to do something.’ We organized a fundraiser for those guys, so when Rene got hurt this summer, I knew I would have to be involved somehow with whatever got done, because I would like to think that if something happened to Jesse, someone would step in and help us.
“Because Rene and Jesse loved to play golf together on their days off,” she said, “the idea of holding a fundraising golf tournament for Rene seemed the natural thing to do. I wasn’t sure how successful it would be, but when we started to put things together I figured we would need a minimum of 72 players to participate.
“I had no idea how big the tournament was going to grow,” Campbell added. “It all just kind of mushroomed as we went along. Denis Savard (Chicago Blackhawks former player, former coach and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame) is a good friend of Rene and he jumped right in by bringing a lot of celebrities and a lot of great people to the tournament.
“Joe Casiato (Illinois Racing Board member) is a good friend of Rene’s and he brought in a lot of people who were willing to donate to the cause, as did Dr. Hilton Gordon, another friend of Rene’s who is also his personal physician,” Campbell said.
“However, because my job here at Arlington takes up the bulk of my time during the day, I had to rely constantly on the help of Doreen (Arlington jockey Eddie Razo’s wife) more than anyone,” said Campbell. “She did almost all of the leg work during the day getting donations. I absolutely could not have done the job without her.
“I was hoping to get 100 to 120 people in the tournament, and we ended up with almost 150 players and got 300 people to attend the dinner,” said Campbell.
“Also,” continued Campbell, “initially I was hoping to raise $25,000 to $30,000 for Rene, and we have raised about $150,000 so far – $130,000 of which will go directly to Rene. We still have more donations coming in every day. We’re very grateful to all those people that have participated so far, as well as those that are planning to do so.”
Meanwhile, Douglas is still continuing his extensive therapy locally, but remains hopeful that he can be transferred to South Florida shortly before the school year begins down there for his children.
Horseplayerpro.com handicapper and Arlington Park program comment writer Brian Spencer will be holding “Learn to Win” Seminars on Saturday.
Spencer will be available to answer questions in a casual atmosphere 1 pm-2 pm at the kiosk on the clubhouse (West side) apron, and then 2:30 pm-4 pm at the kiosk on the grandstand (east) side near the Park Area.
The seventh round of the 2009 Arlington Handicapping Challenge is Saturday, and the live money contest is free to enter and offers berths into the 2010 Horse Player World Series.
In addition, every round of the Arlington Handicapping Challenge is held in conjunction with an M. Scott McMannis handicapping seminar.
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