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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/2/10)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's notes:


Post time for Saturday’s first race has been pushed back to 4 pm to allow a smooth segue into Arlington’s July 3 fireworks show shortly after the last race of the evening.

The Saturday festivities will feature the longest and largest fireworks display in the Chicagoland area, seamlessly following the day’s 10-race program headed by the Grade III Arlington Oaks – the northwest suburban oval’s main event of the summer for 3-year-old fillies.

There will be live music on the band stage in the Park Area by the band “Hi Infidelity” all day long, plus a post-race winner’s circle performance by “Jin and Tonic.”

With a crowd of more than 30,000 expected, purchasing tickets online and in advance is recommended to ensure entry into this spectacular event. Fans are also encouraged to use public transportation. (Metra has a stop at Arlington Park.)


Maybe country singer Toby Keith “should have been a cowboy,” but more likely he is now “dream walkin’” after his 2-year-old colt Sherriff Cogburn ran away from his pursuers to tally by seven lengths in his career debut Thursday at Arlington Park.

Keith, whose real last name is Covel, has raced Thoroughbreds for more than a decade under the nom-de-course of Dream Walkin Farms, Inc., but he may not have previously enjoyed such a promising first start from any of his youngsters during that period of time.

Trained by veteran conditioner Don Von Hemel, one of the most accomplished horsemen based in the Midwest, Sherriff Cogburn – fittingly a son of the stallion Vindication – raced wide before challenging in the stretch and drew clear late under jockey Tanner Riggs.

“He’s a nicely bred colt,” said the always understated Von Hemel shortly after Sherriff Cogburn’s win. “He’s got a good mind on him. He was in trouble for awhile there today, but once he got clear he had no problems.

“I believe they gave $50,000 for him at a September sale last year, and I’ve had him since about three or four weeks before Hot Springs was over,” said Von Hemel, speaking of central Arkansas’ Oaklawn Jockey Club meeting that ended April 10. “I love everything about him. He’s done everything right, so far.

“I suppose long range plans might include the (Grade III Arlington-Washington) Futurity (Sept. 11),” said Von Hemel, “unless they tell me otherwise.”

Interestingly, Sherriff Cogburn’s win came at the expense of McNeill Stables’ Caleb’s Posse, trained by Von Hemel’s son Donnie K. Von Hemel. That son of Posse was easily second best, finishing four lengths to the good of the third-place finisher.

“We’re real happy with our colt, too,” said the younger Von Hemel, whose 2-year-old completed an all-Von Hemel exacta worth $111.

Did the father-son duo wager on the race?

“I bet $2 across the board on my horse,” said Donnie K. of Caleb’s Posse, who paid $14.80 to place and $8.60 to show. “I’m not much of an exacta player.”

What about Dad?

“His Mother called and said, ‘Bet me a box exacta on both horses,’” said Von Hemel, “so she made money, too.”


Veteran reinsman Shane Sellers, who established a single season record of 219 wins during an Arlington season in 1991 that still stands, returned to Chicago’s premier Thoroughbred oval in Thursday’s first race to win with his first mount locally since coming out of a 4 1/2-year retirement last fall.

With Sellers aboard, Talons Racing’s Laguna Moon, conditioned by defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano, challenged in the shadow of the quarter-pole and drew off for a two-length tally in the opener of the nine-race program.

“It’s like it was meant to be,” said an emotional Sellers immediately after the race. “Everybody here has greeted me with open arms since I got here. I needed that win in my life right now, but I still have a lot of amends to make to a lot of people. That’s how I feel.”

- END -

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