Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/5/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
CHARLEY HORSES ATTRACT HUGE CROWDS
It’s Belmont Stakes Day in New York, where Uptowncharlybrown – owned by a partnership of 59 people running under the banner of Fantasy Lane Stable – is 10-1 in the morning line for Saturday’s third leg of the 2010 Triple Crown.
However, last Saturday in Chicago, a group of 57 fun-loving fans of Thoroughbred racing gathered in Arlington Park’s winner’s circle to celebrate the two-length tally of Red Rabbit Racing’s General Charley after the third race of the day.
“We are a family,” said Rick Johnson of Red Rabbit Racing, “but we have a lot of friends who like to come to the races with us. That group in the winner’s circle the other day was not atypical. We’ve taught a lot of people about racing just by having them come out to the races to be with us when General Charley runs.
“To us, the whole thing is to have fun,” said Johnson. “There are a lot of unknown truths about the business of owning horses, and my family and I feel that there are a lot of untapped owners out there, and if we can get them to see how much fun we have, we can help engage them in what could easily become the hobby of their life.”
Red Rabbit Racing is a family Thoroughbred horseracing partnership created in 2004. The initial investors were the late Richard Johnson, Peggy (Johnson) Lenz, Jean (Johnson) Gallo, Jeff Johnson and Rick Johnson.
“Jean is my sister, Peggy is my aunt and Jeff is a cousin,” explained Johnson, “but my Dad originally started the whole operation before his death.
“The name Red Rabbit comes from the nickname of the late Russell Johnson, who was father to Peggy and Richard and grandfather to Jean, Jeff and me,” Johnson said.
At the present time, General Charley, undefeated in two starts at Arlington this season, is the only horse owned by Red Rabbit Racing, but the operation has owned as many as three.
Chris Block trains General Charley at Arlington, and Neil Pessin was listed as the conditioner when the horse ran at Fair Grounds last winter.
“You couldn’t find a more enthusiastic, fun group of people to train for,” Block said. “They love horses, they love to come out here to be with them in the barn in the mornings and they love to come out to watch them race in the afternoon. Naturally, they all go head-over-heels when they win.”
However, Red Rabbit Racing also appreciates Arlington’s customer service representatives Diane Collopy and Alta Vogeltanz – so much so that they made sure both were made part of their winner’s circle picture last week.
“They’re both just really special people,” said Johnson. “Alta is such an engaging, fun person to be around and Diane always takes care of us from the minute we walk in the gates. They are a large part of the reason we have so much fun when we come to Arlington.”
Will Red Rabbit Racing expand again?
“‘Charley’ has done well for us,” said Johnson, “but he’s 8-years-old now and he can only be competitive for so long. Right now we’re looking around for another one to claim, but those opportunities don’t come along every day.
“We would never have more than three horses at any one time,” said Johnson, “but we’ve always said that we will continue to have fun as a family with this whole operation until the money runs out.”
REMINDER: ARLINGTON’S HIGH 5 WAGER REPOSITIONED
Arlington guests and fans of the Chicago oval’s simulcast signal are reminded that beginning Sunday, the High 5 wager will be offered on the third to last race each racing day.
That means that with the nine-race program slated for Sunday at Arlington, the $1 wager will be offered on the seventh race of the afternoon. On a 10-race program the wager would be offered on the eighth race.
In the High 5 wager, fans must correctly pick the first five official finishers in each race in their correct order in order to cash their ticket. Until Sunday, the High 5 wager was offered on the last race of the day.
- END -