Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/4/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
MUTT AND JEFF MEET AGAIN MONDAY IN ARLINGTON’S PUCKER UP STAKES
Jockey Eddie Perez and trainer Chris Block initiated Arlington’s extended Labor Day weekend program in fine fashion by winning both halves of the Daily Double on Friday’s twilight racing program.
However, on Labor Day, only the third Monday racing program of Arlington’s 2010 season, the tandem of the relatively tall 43-year-old Illinois-born trainer and the 44-year-old Mexican-born jockey who goes by the nickname of “Shorty” will try to close out the holiday by combining their talents again with Dundalk 5’s Dundalk Dust.
That team effort will come in Monday’s Grade III Pucker Up Stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs over Arlington’s world famous turf course.
Perez and Block may look a little like Mutt and Jeff when they stand next to each other in the winner’s circle, but they’ve done that a lot this summer, already having posed together 25 times entering Saturday’s racing program.
That number places them easily among Arlington’s top three most successful trainer-jockey combinations locally this summer, surpassed only by the Wayne Catalano-Michael Baze duo and the Nick Canani-Junior Alvarado partnership.
“Eddie rides a lot for me because he fits most of my horses so well,” Block said during training hours Saturday morning. “The key with this filly (Dundalk Dust) is to try to get her to relax. Because of the layoff since her last start (a win over the local lawn July 22) we’ve been breezing her a lot, and Eddie was aboard when she went three-quarters in 1:21 over the grass the other day (Aug. 22 with the “dogs” well out from the rail.)
“She seems to like it when he’s up on her back,” said Block. “He just tries to do what he can to get her to settle. Hopefully, he’ll be able to get her in a good position early on Monday, get her to relax, and then get her to respond for him when he asks her.”
GREEN, GREEN, IT’S GREEN THEY SAY ON LABOR DAY
Monday’s special Labor Day racing program at Arlington will also be the fourth rendition of Arlington’s annual “Labor Day Turf Showcase,” featuring eight races of the nine-race program slated to be contested over Arlington’s world famous turf course.
The showcase event of the afternoon will be the 46th renewal of Arlington’s Grade III Pucker Up Stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies at a mile and an eighth over the grass.
Last year’ Pucker Up victress, Nelson McMakin’s Hot Cha Cha, returned this summer to finish second in the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes Aug. 21, one of three Grade I races that made up Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing on Arlington Million Day.
The only race not scheduled for the grass course on Monday is the opening event at three-quarters of a mile over the local Polytrack surface.
Also on Monday, there will be a special Family Day Finale, featuring free pony rides and a petting zoo offered from 11:15 am to 4 pm.
Those same Family Day activities of pony rides and a petting zoo will be offered during that same time frame Sunday.
KISS ME, I’M IRISH AND I’M IN THE PUCKER UP
Silverton Hill’s Kilmore Quay, pegged as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line for Monday’s Pucker Up Stakes, is an Irish-bred filly who is named after a small rural fishing village in the Southeast corner of Ireland near Wexford town in County Wexford.
Dundalk Dust, slated at 6-1 in the Pucker Up over the green grass of Arlington, is an Illinois-bred filly who is named in honor of Dundalk, the county seat of County Louth on the Emerald Isle. The town is close to the border with Northern Ireland, equi-distant from Dublin and Belfast.
Jockey James Graham, born in Finglas, Dublin, Ireland, 31 years ago, will ride Sisco Racing’s Maddie’s Odyssey in the Pucker Up, also 6-1 in the morning line. Graham won the Pucker Up last year aboard Nelson McMakin’s Hot Cha Cha.
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