Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/29/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
VOODOOMON LIVES ON IN SPIRIT
The concept of permanent death is foreign to most African religions, and voodoo – a blend of African cult worship and Catholicism – embraces that same belief that life is continuous and immutable.
It was in that spirit that Thoroughbred owner Vanessa Nye, her primary trainers Jim McMullen and Dale Bennett, jockeys Chris Emigh and Junior Alvarado and other assorted friends commemorated the memory of her beloved campaigner Voodoomon in a respectful ceremony following Friday’s fourth race.
“I want to keep his name alive in racing,” said Nye of her gallant gelding who had to be euthanized following injuries suffered in a race exactly one year earlier.
Nye, a lifelong animal lover and devoted owner of a shepherd-mix rescue dog named Max, also has made it her mission to rescue Thoroughbreds. As a resident of Tampa, Florida, she is actively involved with Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue in that state, and in the spirit of Friday’s ceremony, that organization rescued four Thoroughbreds Saturday morning in honor of Voodoomon.
Last fall at Hawthorne, trainer McMullen made her aware of a horse he had formerly trained named Diamond Steal who needed surgery and a long, unprofitable layoff, but she claimed him anyway and paid for the surgery. Now, that horse is ready to race again under the banner of Voodoomon Racing.
“He looks just like Voodoomon, so he, too, will keep Voodoomon’s name alive,” said Nye. “On Sunday, I’m going to try to claim a 9-year-old gelding at Calder in partnership with some other people. The horse has made 120 starts and has physical problems. Naturally, we’re claiming him to retire him.
“Now, I have been made aware of Gail Vacca’s Illinois Equine Humane Center in Elgin, Illinois, that also helps rescue and retire Thoroughbreds,” Nye said. “Naturally, I’m looking forward to meeting her and hopefully working with her.”
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND FEATURES MULTIPLE FESTIVAL PREPS
Saturday’s grass stakes scheduled throughout North America include Hollywood Park’s Grade I Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares and Monmouth’s $100,000 Lamplighter for 3-year-olds, while on Sunday Woodbine features the Grade III Connaught Cup for older horses.
However, on Memorial Day Monday, grass racing preps for Arlington’s upcoming International Festival of Racing on August 21 take center stage.
Hollywood hosts the Grade I Shoemaker Mile – always a significant Arlington Million prep – as well as the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap for turf-favoring sophomore fillies, while highlighted in Texas over the Lone Star lawn Monday is the $150,000 Dallas Turf Cup for older horses, the Grade III Ouija Board Distaff – always a significant Beverly D. prep – as well as the $100,000 USA Stakes for 3-year-olds that gives Secretariat Stakes possibilities a chance to prove themselves.
Also, Monmouth has its grassy Eatontown Stakes for female members of the distaff set on Memorial Day, while Mountaineer has its $75,000 Decoration Day Handicap for that same group. The West Virginia oval also hosts its own $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap for older horses on the grass as part of its holiday card.
Meanwhile, at Arlington Park, the holiday festive atmosphere got underway during Friday’s twilight racing program with a huge crowd on hand in the Park Area. That is expected to continue all weekend with the Miller Lite Taste of Summer and live music Saturday and Family Day activities including pony rides and a petting zoo brought to Arlington by Brookfield Zoo on Sunday.
More family day activities and more live music in the Park Area at Arlington will be offered during the special Monday racing program on Memorial Day.
BAZE BAGS SECOND CONSECUTIVE TRIPLE FRIDAY
Jockey Michael Baze became the first jockey this season at Arlington to post a riding triple on consecutive race days when he won Friday’s third race on Dean Caras’s Tessies Tilbury for trainer Tom Swearingen, the fifth on Wildcat Thoroughbred’s Aka Lily’s Lad for conditioner Tammy Domenosky, and then came right back in the sixth on Arlene’s Sun Star Stable’s Mam Bird for leading trainer Wayne Catalano.
Nevertheless, Baze remained one win behind defending jockey champion Junior Alvarado in this summer’s standings through Friday. Alvarado had his second consecutive double on the same program, winning Friday’s opener on Frank Calabrese’s Sicomoro for trainer Ron Faucheux and the fourth on Highlander LLP Holiday in Dixie for conditioner Percy Scherbenske.
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