Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/15/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
TWO BIG MACS HELP WHET SATURDAY’S MILLION PREVIEW DAY APPETITES
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who will saddle Richard Duchossois’ Éclair de Lune in Saturday’s Grade III Modesty Handicap, watched as owner-trainer Tom McCarthy supervised the unloading of his Grade III Arlington Handicap entrant General Quarters off the van from Louisville Wednesday afternoon.
Then, as soon as the 76-year-old McCarthy had a moment to spare, McAnally, who turned 78 earlier this week, went over to say hello to the man he has known intermittently for more than half a century.
“Ron and I met for the first time back in 1957 or 1958,” explained McCarthy later Wednesday morning. “We were two young trainers just starting out at that time at River Downs, or maybe it was Latonia. Ask him. I can’t remember. But then, as the meeting went on we ended up seeing each other more and more often and eventually became friends.
“Then he went on to a Hall of Fame career, and I went on to raise a family and stay at home in Louisville,” McCarthy said. “He ended up with stakes horses, and I ended up with a few claimers.”
That has all changed in the last two years for McCarthy since the arrival of General Quarters as the leader pro tem of his one-horse stable. In 2009, General Quarters won Tampa’s Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes during the winter and Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes in the spring before being compromised by a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby and an injury in the Preakness. After returning to competition late last fall in New Orleans, General Quarters finished second four times, including three runner-up runs in all three legs of Fair Grounds’ graded stakes series for older horses on the main track.
However, it was also during the coldest Crescent City winter in recent memory that McCarthy began thinking of a grass summer campaign for General Quarters pointing toward the Grade I Arlington Million for 2010. A dramatic neck win in Churchill’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day May 1 – in only his second career start on grass – confirmed the sagacity of that strategy.
What followed for General Quarters was a third-place run in Churchill’s Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on June 12 in his most recent start, but that was on the main track – not because it was the preferred surface – but because the horse needed a race prior to Saturday’s Arlington Handicap as the final local designed prep race for Arlington Million XXVIII on Aug. 21.
“I’m just really happy Tom has ended up with such a good horse as this one after all these years,” said McAnally during training hours Thursday morning. “He was always a great guy and he deserves all these good things that have been happening to him.
“It was at probably at the old Latonia that we first met each other,” said McAnally, who has won the Arlington Million three times but will saddle Éclair de Lune in Saturday’s Modesty ‘Cap. “It had to be, because I was born in Covington (Kentucky) and hadn’t really ventured away from there in those days. Since then, I’ve been based in California and I’ve raced around the world at a lot of different tracks, including some in Ireland, England, France and several tracks in South America.
“But there is nowhere I enjoy running my horses as much as I do when I come to Arlington,” said McAnally, “and I’ve always told that to anyone that asks me.
“However, you should know that Tom and I first got reacquainted since those old days at Latonia during the spring meeting at Keeneland in 2009,” said McAnally. “We had a long conversation there because we were stabled next to each other leading up to last year’s Blue Grass. He won the race with General Quarters and I finished third with (Frankfurt Stable’s) Massone.”
ARLINGTON JOCKEY MILESTONES HONORED ON MILLION PREVIEW DAY
Recently retired Arlington-based jockey Carlos Silva, third among Arlington’s all-time leading reinsmen, as well as jockeys Chris Emigh and E. T. Baird, still active while currently eighth and 10th respectively among Arlington’s all-time leaders, will all be honored during special ceremonies scheduled for Million Preview Day this Saturday at Arlington.
Silva, who hung up his tack in April, earned the last significant milestone of his long career when he picked up win 3,500 last August for conditioner Richard Hazelton, Arlington’s all-time leading trainer, who has also since retired.
Emigh, Arlington’s champion jockey in 2006, recorded victory number 3,000 last year at Arlington, and Baird earned win number 2,000, also last summer at Arlington.
Arlington Park has purchased trophies with special bases created to commemorate the jockeys on their accomplishments, and the three jockeys will be joined in the winner’s circle by their families as well as their fellow riders Saturday.
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