Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/4/12)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
DANNY MILLER READIES ROMACACA FOR UPCOMING BEVERLY D. STAKES
It’s Miller time – or maybe more precisely it’s Romacaca time. At least that’s the way veteran Arlington trainer Danny Miller feels as he prepares Frank Calabrese’s 6-year-old mare for the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes now just two weeks away on August 18.
It was Danny Miller who first claimed Romacaca for $25,000 for Calabrese back in South Florida during the winter of 2009.
“I saw her in the entries for that price and I told her trainer (David Fawkes) that for that price I’d be foolish not to claim her,” said Miller during training hours Saturday morning. “He told me, ‘Go ahead – she’s for sale anyway.’”
It’s been an interesting career for the low-profile, always modest Miller, 59, born in the tiny town of Casey, Illinois, approximately 40 miles west of Terre Haute, Indiana. His father raced horses at the county fairs in central and southern Illinois but after he was killed in an automobile accident when Danny was 12, the younger Miller rode briefly “in the bushes,” kept working with horses at Casey Thoroughbred Farm and eventually came on the racetrack with trainer Francis Ball.
“I came to Chicago with (trainer) Bernie Flint in 1979,” said Miller. “Patti had her own stable at the time, but we got married in 1980 and have worked together ever since. On paper, she’s down as my assistant trainer, but we work together. That’s a better way of putting it.”
Asked to talk a little more about Romacaca, Miller said, “That’s a good subject. I like talking about her. After I claimed her, I brought her up here to Arlington that year and she won three straight races (including the $50,000 Diamond Ring and the $55,000 Hatoof on that summer’s Arlington Million Day) and then finished second in the (Grade III) Pucker Up.”
Following a runner-up finish by a head in Gulfstream’s $100,000 Marshua’s River, a fourth-place run in Gulfstream’s Grade III Honey Fox, and another fourth-place finish at that South Florida oval later during that winter of 2010, Romacaca was transferred to other conditioners before being returned to Miller’s barn this spring.
“I got her back about six weeks ago, right after her race at Monmouth,” Miller said, speaking of Romacaca’s fourth-place effort in the Grade III Violet Stakes at that North Jersey Shore oval. “The only race she’s run for me so far was her win in the (Arlington’s Grade III) Modesty (July 14).
“She’s just such a nice mare to be around,” Miller said. “She’s good around the barn and never gives us any trouble, but when you lead her over she becomes ‘all race horse.’ I’m going to work her tomorrow (Sunday), and then give her one more easy work going into (the Beverly D.).
“She ran a real nice race for us in the Modesty and I think she’ll improve off of that race in the Beverly D.” Miller concluded. “To tell you the truth, the way she’s training right now, I don’t think I’m afraid of anybody in that race coming up.”
JOCKEY EDGAR PEREZ; TRAINERS BERNDT, BENNETT WIN TWICE FRIDAY
Venezuelan-born jockey Edgar Perez, riding at Arlington for the first time in his career this season, veteran Arlington-based trainer Joel Berndt and veteran Arlington-based conditioner Dale Bennett all tallied twice during Friday’s twilight racing program.
Perez won Friday’s sixth aboard Savoy Stable’s Foreign Appeal for trainer Dale Bennett and returned to the winner’s circle after the finale astride the Enebish Ganbat-owned and trained Exotic Wildcat.
Berndt, who won back-to-back training titles at Hawthorne during the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011, saddled Larry Elenz and Janice Krueger’s Prairie Prize to win the fourth with Seth Martinez up and came back to the winner’s circle right after the fifth with Alice Mettler’s Hogy, who had Florent Geroux in the irons.
Bennett, who finished on the cusp of the top 10 in last year’s Arlington standings, saddled The Best Is Yet To Come Stable’s At the Finish to win the second half of Friday’s Daily Double with apprentice Alejandro Contreras aboard and the sixth with Foreign Appeal with Perez up.
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