|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
English language lessons for the largely Hispanic population on the Arlington Park backstretch have mushroomed in popularity this season - so much so that Arlington's Chaplain Luis Peralta is appealing to the public for help.
"We need more teachers, and we need more books," said Peralta, an enthusiastic native of Guatemala who has been energized by the surge in popularity of the classes this season. The classes are held twice a week for the Spanish-speaking jockeys, exercise riders, grooms, hotwalkers and their families that inhabit the Arlington community. The English lessons, conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 p.m. for about an hour, have become more structured and improved this season as Peralta enters his second year as Arlington's chaplain under the auspices of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA).
"The first night we held classes this season was on June 6 and we had 28 people attend," said Peralta. "The second night, the following Tuesday, we had 42. Last Thursday we had 77 people show up, so I don't know how many to expect this coming Tuesday.
"Now, we have already run out of books and have ordered some more," Peralta said. "In the meantime, we are using photo copies, but we like to give word books to each student so they can take them home and always have something to study. We work with student books, picture books and dictionaries.
"We could also use more teachers," said Peralta. "We have 25 volunteers at the present time. They are people who live in Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Palatine and other places in the surrounding community, but those 25 people are split between Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our goal is to have one teacher for each four students."
"All the help we can get, we appreciate," Peralta said. "I'm very encouraged by the increased response to our language program this year. People are more interested in learning English, because people realize that without learning English they are not going anywhere.
"One of our goals at RTCA is the advancement of the social, educational, spiritual and physical wellbeing of industry employees." Peralta said. "We've come a long way since our classes last year, when we had about 25 people attending, and had no books to give out. People just took notes. I'm very encouraged by the response to our program this year. The more help we get - the more we can help these people. That's my main concern - to help these people."
Javier Torres, who still doubles as an exercise rider and was a former assistant trainer in the mornings, has been named Arlington Park's new assistant clerk of scales, effective last Friday.
Torres, 31, born in San Luis Pottosi, Mexico, is one of eight siblings, two of whom were jockeys on the Arlington circuit. However, as the largest of the three brothers, Torres was not able to pursue a riding career in the afternoons.
Employed by Arlington as an assistant in the paddock during the races since the mid-90s, Torres has drawn constant praise from horsemen for his attention to detail while their horses were under his jurisdiction on race days.
"What I'm doing now is a little different from being out there," said Torres in the Arlington Park Jockeys' Room, "but it's another step up the ladder. I'm very pleased to have the opportunity. It makes me feel like the sky's the limit for me here."
For the past three years, Torres has served as an exercise rider for trainer Albert Stall Jr., but was also an assistant to trainer Bettye Gabriel for the previous 10 years.
While in the paddock during the races in past seasons, Torres was recognized for saving a number of horses from injury over the years in various paddock situations. His knowledge and horsemanship have been a constant asset during his tenure at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval.
Patricia Miessler & Cliff Raber's Fan Club's Mister, hero of the Grade II American Derby here last season as the middle jewel in Arlington Park's Mid-America Triple, has been assigned the top impost of 121 pounds in Saturday's 23rd running of the Cardinal Handicap.
The handicap for 3-year-olds and upward at a mile and a sixteenth over the grass course is one of six $75,000 stakes races restricted to Illinois-breds that will be contested Saturday as part of the Prairie State Festival at Arlington Park, now in its third year here.
The Prairie State Festival is part of a celebration of tourism that showcases Illinois attractions and offers visitors the opportunity to discover statewide destinations.
As part of the Festival, Arlington will also again host the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation Annual Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age following the races.
Team Block's Ioya Two, heroine of the last two renewals of the Lincoln Heritage Handicap, has been highweighted at 122 pounds by Arlington racing secretary David Bailey in this year's 25th running of that test for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass.
Other highweights in Saturday's Prairie State Festival handicap races include John Conforti's Capitol View in the 23rd running of the Isaac Murphy Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares at six furlongs. Also sharing a top impost is William Cortesi's Magic Doe and Ron L. Brandenburg's Tic N Tin in the fifth running of the $75,000 White Oak Handicap for 3-year-olds and upward at six furlongs.
In Saturday's 13th running of the $75,000 Springfield Stakes for 3-year-old Illinois-breds and the 25th running of the $75,000 Purple Violet Stakes, weights are not assigned by the racing secretary's office.
The Arlington Heights Post Office will remain functional internally this Sunday while processing ticket requests for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on the deadline day for ticket application requests.
Ben Gulino, of Franklin Park, Illinois, was the winner of Saturday's Grand Slam of Chicago Sports Ultimate Sports Package. Gulino will receive four tickets to each of the following events: the Grade I Arlington Million on August 17, the Advil Western Open, a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field, a Chicago Blackhawks game at the United Center, and a Chicago Bulls game, also at that venue.
Leading rider Rene Douglas scored an almost routine riding double Saturday, scoring in the sixth with Patrick Livney & Richard Otto Stables Inc.'s Thomas Crown and returning to the winner's circle in the finale astride John Franks' Gold Ruckus.
Seventy-six years ago tomorrow, on June 17, 1926, the American National Jockey Club purchased 1,001 acres of land in Arlington Heights for the purpose of building a racecourse.
Fifty-six years ago tomorrow, on June 17, 1946, racing returned to Arlington Park after a three-year war-induced absence. The 1943, 1944 and 1945 meets were held at Washington Park.
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