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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/6/09)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Defending Arlington Park trainer champion Wayne Catalano added a new dimension to an impressive Chicago résumé Saturday of Labor Day weekend by saddling Darrell and Evelyn Yates’ Dixie Band to win the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity and Nancy Mazzoni’s She Be Wild to capture the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie.

That rare training double was last accomplished 30 years ago by trainer Bert Sonnier, and only three times before that – once each by Hall of Fame trainers LeRoy Jolley in 1961 and Harry Trotsek in 1953. Trainer Clyde Van Dusen pulled off the Futurity-Lassie double in 1933, and although that trainer was not inducted into Racing’s Hall of Fame, the horse with the same name who won the 1929 Kentucky Derby was.

Getting back to Catalano, however, the 53-year-old native of New Orleans, Louisiana, reported Sunday that both of his juvenile stars came out of their races well and were doing well Sunday morning. Was the Breeders’ Cup on the upcoming agenda?

“Probably not with the colt,” Catalano said. “We’ll look around for some other opportunities for him. But it was a good day. Everything came together for us (Saturday).”

Actually, things went pretty well for Catalano Friday as well, when he also saddled two winners on the twilight racing program, and entering Sunday’s races Catalano held an 11-win advantage in the trainer standings despite being separated from his major owner last season.

“When we started out this year, I really thought this was going to be a rebuilding year,” said Catalano, who passed Harvey Vanier to become Arlington’s third all-time leading trainer last month and is well on his way to his fifth straight local title. “I really didn’t expect it to turn out quite as well as it has, but my new clients like Gary and Mary West, Team Valor, Mr. Yates and the Mazzonis have given me some great opportunities with a lot of new horses.

“We stayed focused and did what we usually do,” Catalano said, while giving his barn crew as well as his owners the lion’s share of the credit. “We didn’t know that we’d get all these new opportunities, but everything has worked out.”


Feel The Thunder Stable’s Gran Estreno, the Argentine-bred front-running half-length hero of Saturday’s Grade III Washington Park Handicap, came out of his race well and was doing well Sunday morning, according to trainer Mike Stidham.

“He’s doing fine,” said Stidham during trainer hours Sunday morning. “We don’t really have an idea what’s next for him. He’s not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup so that’s very unlikely, but there are a lot of different options out there so we’ll be looking around to see which one seems to fit us best.”


Jim Messineo’s Major Rhythm, most famous for upsetting the 2006 Stars and Stripes Handicap as a 7-year-old, has been retired from racing after pulling a tendon during a morning exercise earlier this week.

“On Monday he was fine and we were trying to decide whether to run him in the Stars and Stripes or the Sea o’ Erin on Labor Day weekend,” Messineo said Sunday morning, “but a couple of days later we noticed some heat in his leg and x-rays showed the tendon injury. I believe it is the same injury that forced (2006 Arlington Million winner) The Tin Man into retirement.”

Coincidentally, Major Rhythm ran ninth in the 2006 Million.

“I’ve owned a lot of horses over the years, but Major Rhythm was special to me,” said Messineo. “I once had five horses at one time but Major Rhythm was the last one. I’ll be a long time getting over this. I love Arlington and I love Thoroughbred racing, but after this I think I’ll be staying out of the game for awhile.”


Longtime Illinois-based trainer Jim McCoy died in Kansas on Aug. 27 at the Olathe Medical Center, and was buried at Louisburg Cemetery in Louisburg, Kansas, on Sept. 1.

Mr. McCoy was born Dec. 11, 1938 in Topeka, Kansas, and owned Orion Stables where he began training Thoroughbred race horses in the 1970s. He was the leading trainer at the Woodlands in 1995 and 1996, and also raced horses his horses at Arlington Park, Hawthorne, Oaklawn and Prairie Meadows.

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