Arlington Park Barn Notes (6/17/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
SUNFLOWER SEEDS CHRISTINE JANKS’ LIFE THIS SUMMER
She’s easily Arlington’s runner-up trainer for total wins in Prairie State Festival competition since the inception of that state-bred series in 2000, and on Saturday, eight of her 13 horses entered for the day are in Festival races, but conditioner Christine Janks has focused her life in a different direction in the last two seasons – allowing her valued longtime assistant trainer Rob Dobbs to handle the bulk of her Thoroughbred duties on site at Arlington.
Janks has been journeying to Arlington from her Gainesville, Florida, farm for a couple of days every couple of weeks, and will be back on the grounds Saturday to help Dobbs saddle defending champion Nicks as well as Cruise in the Isaac Murphy Handicap as the sprint for older fillies and mares, High Expectations and Tazz in the sprint for older horses, Big Looie and Rich City Dude in the Springfield Stakes for 3-year-olds, and Pathway and Jitterbug Blues in the Lincoln Heritage Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/1/6- miles on the grass.
“These days I’m the assistant to the assistant,” Janks said, speaking over the phone from Florida Thursday about Dobbs. “However, even when I was here seven days a week in previous summers, I always said that the day Rob quits, I quit. He is an absolutely essential part of the entire operation.”
That operation includes her Carson Springs Farm in Gainesville, where she raises her foals – including her vast majority of Illinois-breds – keeping a close watch on their development from birth to their eventual graduation to the race track.
However, in addition to her farm duties, Janks now has a pilot’s license as well as wildlife sanctuary on her farm to satisfy her lifelong status as an animal lover, and she is also a longtime advocate of animal rescue operations and a fierce protector of endangered species.
“We have just adopted the world’s greatest tiger and she is living with us at the farm,” said Janks. “Her name is Sunflower and she is about the sweetest thing in the world. She’s about a year and a half old and she likes to play constantly. In fact, I just gave her a new toy this morning, and I figure it will take her about a half-hour to break it.
“We heard about her when we went to an exotic cat rescue humane society facility to look at a couple of leopards,” Janks said. “They told us that before they rescued her she had been scheduled to be euthanized, and they asked if we’d be interested in adopting her.
“I fell in love with her as soon as I laid eyes on her and she looked me in the eyes,” said Janks. “Right now, because we have to play constantly, she absolutely rules my life at the farm.”
Nevertheless, Janks also maintains her loyalty to Rob Dobbs. Along with his wife Kelly, they are now co-owners of White Oak Handicap contestant Tazz, who pressed the pace before weakening late in hid only start this year.
“I want Rob to always feel like he’s a big part of everything we do,” said Janks. “That’s why we made them part-owners of this horse. One of my other owners recently said he wanted to cut back a little bit on his involvement with our operation because he had children approaching college age. Rob told him he had a daughter that had just graduated from high school and was about to go to college, too, and that he needed to own a horse to help pay her way.”
ARLINGTON JOCKEYS JUMP FOR JOY ON DAY OFF
As if riding Thoroughbred horses in races at speeds approaching 40 miles per hour all day isn’t enough of a rush, seven lucky members of Arlington Park’s jockey colony tried skydiving for the first time on a day off earlier this week.
Jockeys Quincy Hamilton and Brandon Meier were the originators of the excursion, but were quickly joined by Junior Alvarado, E. T. Baird, Lyndie Wade, Timmy Thornton and Florent Geroux in their outing last Monday.
“We had to wait all day for the weather to clear up so they could go up,” explained Taylor Gangi, Wade’s girlfriend, when speaking of the group’s initial airborne outing as tandem jumpers in a jump site in the Naperville area.
“Lyndie loved it,” said Gangi, who also serves as Arlington’s press box receptionist. “He thinks everyone should do it. He can’t wait to try it again, and now I want to try it, too. I didn’t go up on the plane this last time, but when they jumped out of the plane, they looked like little dots up there. They began their jumps at 18,000 feet, and then free fell for about 5,000 feet before their chutes opened. He said the hardest part of the whole thing was going up in the plane with the door opened the whole time.”
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