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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Barn Notes (9/17/10)

Contact: Graham Ross
graham.ross@arlingtonpark.com

In today's notes:

JOCKEY J. Z. SANTANA SUFFERS BRUISES ONLY IN SCARY SPILL THURSDAY

Veteran jockey J. Z. Santana, riding at Arlington Park for the first time in his 12-year career this season, experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in back-to-back races Thursday at Chicago’s northwest suburban oval.

In Thursday’s sixth race, the 31-year-old native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, rode Judd Becker’s I’ve Heard Rumors. After trailing the field early, I’ve Heard Rumors advanced steadily under the encouragement of Santana, challenged for command in the late stages and got up to be best by a neck at the wire.

I’ve Heard Rumors, trained by Werner Mackert, lit up the tote board with a whopping $66.40 win price.

In the seventh race, Santana was astride the Caryn Vecchio-owned and trained Lovin Sabrina, who fell suddenly nearing the three-eighths pole and unseated Santana in an incident that appeared like it could have had serious consequences. Apparently, it did not. In fact, Santana rode the remaining two races on the program.

“I’m very lucky,” Santana said Friday morning. “God was watching over me and I want to thank God for that. I feel very blessed.

“That horse is a little crazy,” Santana said. “She was running with her head down and when I tried to pick up her head at the three-eighths pole she just threw herself on the floor. I don’t remember falling off. The next thing I remember was standing up on the track and looking around.

“I am sore today (Friday),” said Santana. “I have pain in my shoulder, my foot and my arm, but I guess the only thing I suffered was bruises. What I’ve been doing this morning is getting in the hot tub every 10 or 20 minutes, but I should be able to ride.”

Santana began his riding career in Puerto Rico and first came to this country in 1998 to ride at Gulfstream. He then went to California briefly but has spent the bulk of his career in Maryland.

“My grandfather used to take me to the track (El Comandante) when I was a little boy, but I never had any desire to be a jockey,” Santana said of his early career. “But then I didn’t like school and I quit when I was 14, so I knew I had to do something. Everybody told me because of my size to become a jockey so I started jockey school at 15 and graduated from that at 16. Everybody told me I was a natural and I quickly learned I enjoyed being a jockey.

“I stopped riding for about nine months last year because I wasn’t enjoying it and I didn’t think I was being fair to the horses,” Santana said. “I went back to Miami last winter to work in a restaurant because I knew I had to keep paying the bills. Then I went back to the track at Calder last summer and rode a few horses at Gulfstream before I had the chance to come to Arlington this spring.

“Everything has worked out very well for me since I got here,” Santana said. “This is a tough meet, but I feel I’ve done very well coming here for the first time.

“I enjoy being back on the track again,” Santana concluded, “and I’m more dedicated than I was when I stopped. I know what it is now to get $200 every two weeks and this is better. I can groom or walk horses, or I can ride, but as long as I’m with the horses I’m happy.”

ALVARADO CONTINUES TO CLOSE GAP ON BAZE WITH THURSDAY DOUBLE

Defending jockey champion Junior Alvarado had a riding double Thursday, winning the opener on Silver Wing Stables I’s Stig’s Deputy for trainer Manny Perez and the third race on Peter Mattson’s Common Sense for conditioner Percy Scherbenske. He is now three wins shy of leading rider Michael Baze entering Friday’s program.

CATALANO SADDLES ONE WINNER THURSDAY TO EDGE TOWARD RECORD

Arlington’s perennial leading trainer Wayne Catalano saddled Darrell and Evelyn Yates’ Hydroplane to win Thursday’s fourth race and bring his 2010 Arlington meet record to 71 wins, three wins shy of the 74 winners he saddled during the 2007 season when he established Arlington’s all-time single-season win mark for a trainer.

CASTANON’S COUNTDOWN TO 2,000-CAREER WIN MILESTONE NOW AT 1,993

Panamanian-born jockey Jesus Castanon rode Charlene Gabler’s Hello Jake to victory in Thursday’s featured race at Arlington to bring his lifetime win total aboard Thoroughbreds to 1,993 wins.

Castanon, now a Kentucky resident, has been hanging his tack at Arlington for the entire season this summer, is slated to ride six horses Friday at the local oval, and is expected to ride at Kentucky Downs this Monday when Arlington has a dark day.

- END -

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