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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (7/17/10)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

GRAHAM ON FRIDAY: A ROLLING STONE GATHERING NO MOSS

Members of Arlington Park’s jockey colony were recently asked what song they would like to have played over Arlington’s public address system as they returned to the winner’s circle each time they won a race.

Jockey James Graham, runner-up in Arlington’s standings last season, chose “Sympathy for the Devil,” so following that Irish-born reinsman’s Friday hat trick, fans of The Rolling Stones got to hear that classic cut from the album “Beggar’s Banquet” three times on the nine-race program.

Graham began his riding triple during the second race astride Laura Ann Wieczorek’s Mustang Power for trainer Bobby Springer, continued it in the fourth event aboard Brian and Lisa Herrity’s Spectaculous for conditioner Hugh Robertson, and came right back to the winner’s circle in the sixth on Barrett Racing Stable’s Larry by the Lake for trainer Jim McMullen.

The triple gave Graham 46 wins for the season to move him up to three wins behind current runner-up Michael Baze in the local standings, and Graham is given an excellent chance to continue his roll Saturday with a win aboard Nelson McMakin’s Hot Cha Cha in the Grade III Modesty Handicap as Arlington’s final major prep for the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Aug. 21. Hot Cha Cha is the 5-2 third choice in the Modesty morning line.

Interestingly, Arlington’s current runner-up rider Baze, who chose “Beat It” off the “Thriller” album by Michael Jackson as his favorite song, was a guest on this season’s inaugural “Breakfast at Arlington” program in advance of Arlington’s Million Preview Day. During the course of his interview, Baze announced that the next time he won a race he would do the “Moonwalk” in the winner’s circle while they were playing his song.

Baze is listed to ride in 10 of the 11 races Saturday, including the live longshot Tajaaweed, a Shadwell Stable color bearer who is 20-1 in the morning line for the Grade III Arlington Handicap as the final designed local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 21. Tajaweed, along with George Ditola’s Cross Village at 30-1 in the morning line, are the only two Arlington Handicap starters with a win over the local lawn this season.

LOOKING AT ARLINGTON STANDINGS HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON

When the halfway point of the Arlington Park 2010 season was breached earlier this week, last year’s eventual jockey champion Junior Alvarado was third in the standings behind the Chicago-born veteran E. T. Baird, while Alvarado, who already enjoys a clear lead this summer, was tied for the runner-up spot with James Graham.

Trainer Wayne Catalano, Arlington’s defending trainer champion of the last five years and seven of the last eight, held a narrow advantage in the trainer standings at the halfway point of 2009 and once again held a slight lead at mid-season this summer.

However, Arlington’s perennial leading owner Frank Calabrese, who has led the owner standings based on number of wins since Arlington reopened in 2000 after a two-year hiatus, had more than twice as many wins as his nearest pursuer last season at the halfway point but enjoys a 3-1 win ratio over his nearest pursuer this summer.

WHY GENERAL QUARTERS IS GOOD FOR THOROUGHBRED RACING

Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, winner of last year’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and this spring’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, comes into Saturday’s Arlington Handicap in preparation for the Grade I Arlington Million as one of the “feel-good” stories of the season.

On Friday, Thoroughbred racing fans Terry and Joe Allen completed a four-hour drive from their home in Wisconsin just to be at Arlington to watch General Quarters test the local grass course for the first time, and then stay over to watch his race Saturday.

“We’re just big fans of you and your horse,” Mrs. Allen said as she introduced herself to owner-trainer McCarthy as he prepared to watch his horse from the apron. “Could you please autograph these two winner’s circle pictures we have of General Quarters winning the Blue Grass and that race at Tampa last winter?”

McCarthy obliged, watched his horse go through his paces on the grass, and turned to walk back to his car to return to the barn.

“Who wants to ride along with me to watch this horse cool out and get his bath?” McCarthy asked, looking at the Allens.

The Wisconsin couple ended up having a morning they will talk about for the rest of their lives. Not only did they get to photograph General Quarters and get to pet him repeatedly, they also got to spend at least a half-hour as McCarthy’s special guests in the barn area.

- END -

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