|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
Wayne Catalano, who was Arlington's trainer champion in 2000, put up a valiant battle to repeat for the Arlington Park title in 2001 before surrendering his lead to Jerry Hollendorfer during the final races of last season at Chicago's showcase Thoroughbred meeting. At the end of the 2001 meeting, Catalano missed the championship by only two wins, saddling 39 winners to Hollendorfer's 41.
Will Catalano be a contender this year?
"It's always a fight," said Catalano in Arlington's racing secretary's office earlier this week. "We'll get started okay, but it's a fight. It's really a marathon season and a lot of things can happen. Last year, for instance, we won with 17 horses that we had claimed during the season. Over the course of the year we claimed 107 horses but lost 88 of them.
"It helps to have a guy like Mr. (Frank) Calabrese behind you," said Catalano of his owner. "He lets you run them where they belong."
Asked about some of the best horses he has for the upcoming Arlington sesssion, Catalano is quick to mention Calabrese's Jaha as well as Golden Antigua.
Born in New Orleans, the "Cat Man" won 1,792 races as a jockey before chronic knee problems forced him to hang up his tack. He was the nation's second-leading rider in 1977, before becoming an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg and eventually going out on his own as a trainer in 1983.
Catalano's best horse to date as a conditioner was Evelyn and Darrell Yates' Crypto Star, who won the 1997 Louisiana Derby and Arkansas Derby and was then fifth in the Kentucky Derby later that spring. The 46-year-old Louisiana native also conditioned Little Sucker, who captured eight stakes over four seasons, and Cuzzy Bear, winner of the 1990 Hawthorne Breeders' Cup Handicap.
Veteran jockey Randy Meier, who had an outstanding 2001 at Arlington Park, finished the meeting with 63 winners, easily third best in the standings. The 47-year-old native of West Point, Nebraska, missed the second spot by only three trips to the winner's circle.
The first horse he rides to victory at Arlington Park this season will be Meier's 500th career victory at the local oval.
"Last year was such a good year for us," said agent Penny Fitch-Hayes, who was enjoying her first association with Meier during the 2001 season here. "I had limited expectations but it turned out wonderfully for us. The success we had will be hard to live up to."
Meier recently returned from injuries suffered in a race spill April 11, which kept him out of action five weeks as he recovered from two broken ribs, a deflated lung and a broken toe. He rode 10 winners during the last two weeks of the Hawthorne meeting.
"A lot depends on how well we start off here," said Fitch-Hayes, when asked to assess Meier's chances for another good season at Arlington. "He's coming off that layoff, but we've picked up a lot of newer clients, like Carl Nafzger, Catalano, Jerry Hollendorfer and David Vance, so if we start off on a roll that will really help our chances for a good meeting.
"He's a pleasure to work for," said Fitch-Hayes, of her asssociation with Meier. "He gives every horse everything he's got. He doesn't shortchange anybody."
An expanded Junior Jockey Club at Arlington Park will have the first of 11 scheduled sessions for younger racing fans this Sunday, the first full weekend of Arlington's 107-day season that concludes October 27.
The function of the Junior Jockey Club is to educate children about Arlington Park and Thoroughbred horse racing. Junior Jockey Club members get to participate in educational activities, special events and giveaways. The club is open to all children under 12 and is free to join. Younger racing fans can be registered at any information booth, or at the Twin Spires Club booth on any racing day. A parent's signature is required.
With Father's Day following one week from Sunday, on June 16, the June 9 Junior Jockey Club activity will have a Father's Day Craft theme, so younger fans can make a place mat for Dad that he can keep forever.
On June 23, the second Junior Jockey Club activity, registered members will meet several members of the Arlington Park jockey colony.
Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye rode his first winner at Arlington Park 25 years ago tomorrow, posing in the winner's circle aboard Jack Van Berg's Holme Shoes on June 6, 1977. Delahoussaye will break from post position 6 astride Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift in Saturday's 134th running of the Belmont Stakes. Perfect Drift finished third in the Kentucky Derby five weeks ago with Delahoussaye up.
Advance wagering for the Belmont Stakes will be available beginning Friday at Arlington Park. On Saturday, fans will be able to bet either directly into the Belmont pool or into a separate Illinois pool. Wagering on a special Acorn-Belmont Stakes double will be available Friday as part of the Belmont Park card.
Veteran Illinois-based reinsman Carlos Silva, on the cusp of 3,000-career wins, celebrates his 46th birthday on Friday. Silva currently has 2,988 wins as he enters the Arlington Park season.
- END -