|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
The 88th running of the Grade II American Derby -- Arlington Park's oldest stakes race -- is expected to include horses coming from Europe once again this year when contested July 21 on the grass at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval.
Four of the last six American Derby winners have come to America off of European campaigns as the race continues to gain in international stature. Highland Farms et al.'s Pine Dance two years ago, Louie Roussell III's Jaunatxo, Gary Tanaka's Gold And Steel, and Mohammed Al Maktoum's Overbury were all European-based prior to their American Derby victories, and there was good reason for their Atlantic crossings.
As the middle jewel of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, the American Derby is the final local prep for the Grade I Secretariat, to be contested at a mile and a quarter as part of the one-day International Festival of Racing August 17.
Contested on the same day as the Grade I Arlington Million and the Grade I Beverly D., the $400,000 Secretariat is restricted to 3-year-olds of international caliber.
Pine Dance, although a Kentucky-bred bay son of 1992 Preakness winner Pine Bluff, was brought to the American Derby by Irish trainer Dermot Weld after his stakes-winning campaign on the Emerald Isle.
Now Weld is strongly considering another Irish invasion with Moyglare Stud's Jazz Beat, another bay colt who is by the good grass sire Dixieland Band. At this early juncture, Jazz Band's American Derby status has been upgraded from possible to probable.
Preliminary plans have Jazz Beat coming on an equine Air France flight tentatively scheduled for July 16.
Another sophomore likely for the American Derby off a recent European campaign is the French-bred Inesperado, a son of the Irish-bred Zayyani. Inesperado is now owned by Three Plus U Stable and conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. Inesperado was the winner of the Grade III Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park June 30 in his first American start.
American Derby contestants likely from the United States now include Horizon Stable's Mananan McLir from the Wally Dollase barn instead of Richard L. Duchossois' Stonemason, and Mansell Stables LLC's Quest Star from the Elliott Walden barn in lieu of Winstar Farm LLC & Thomas F. Van Meter II's Mr. Mellon. The latter was the victor in the Grade II Arlington Classic, first leg of the Mid-America Triple on June 29.
Others considered likely for the American Derby at this time include Jerry Givens & Jack Gullatt's Seainsky, Lizabeth Gore's Scooter Roach, William P. Stiritz & Brian F. Zander's Robin Zee, Three Kings Stable's Extra Check, and Irish Acres Farm's Afleet Buck.
Martin Martinez, a Spanish-speaking assistant trainer for popular local conditioner Chris Block, will join Arlington Park television personality Christine Gabriel Saturday during the first four races of her paddock show.
Martinez will handicap each of the first four races in Spanish on the air in conjunction with Arlington Park's inaugural "Fiesta In The Park" Saturday.
"Fiesta In The Park" was developed by Arlington Park teaming with Reflejos Direct Media, and is brought to you by Harris Bank and the Daily Herald. The Fiesta is designed to bring some "Salsa" to the Thoroughbred races at Chicago's premier oval, and has been introduced in recognition of the many Latino jockeys, horsemen and Arlington Park employees.
Gates will open at 10:30 a.m. for the "Fiesta" -- billed as fun for the whole "familia" -- and begin with a soccer clinic sponsored by the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer Team and conducted by MLS Camps. Authentic Latino cuisine will be served up to the rhythms of South American music starting at noon. The family event will include a petting zoo, games and assorted children activities.
Last year at this time, trainer Gene Brajczewski announced the retirement of Howard E. Nelson & Dan Johns' Treat Me Doc shortly after the gelding finished a good second in the 2001 Cardinal Handicap at Arlington Park.
However, following Thursday's eighth race, Treat Me Doc posed in the winner's circle following a gutsy last-to-first victory by a neck at the local oval. Why did the 8-year-old Illinois-bred return to the races?
"He's a horse who gets retired and doesn't want to stay retired," said Brajczewski on Friday. "He's just a tough knocking horse and he likes what he's doing when he competes. We tried to send him to the farm last year, but he was wild on the farm. He probably just got bored on the farm, but he was getting hard to handle, so we brought him back.
"In that first race back at Hawthorne, he got boxed in," Brajczewski said, "and then in his next race (the 2002 Cardinal Handicap) he got in trouble early. When he gets in trouble, he's done. But when he gets a clear trip he still wants to compete.
"I'd like to get him ready for that race at Kentucky Downs again," said Brajczewski, speaking of the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Mile in September at the oval formerly known as Dueling Grounds. "The best race of his career was there in 1999 when he won the Kentucky Cup. He had been a good third in the 1998 Kentucky Cup.
"I've always had a special feeling for Treat Me Doc," said Brajczewski. "He's the one who got me started. There are a lot of things around my house that he paid for.
"But the most important thing is that he came out of yesterday's race real good," said Brajczewski, "so we'll continue to move forward with him."
Six years ago tomorrow, on July 13, 1996, more than 34,000 people jammed Arlington Park to witness two-time Horse of the Year Cigar tie the modern day record by winning his 16th consecutive race in the Arlington Citation Challenge.
Veteran Arlington Park jockey Carlos Silva is now three wins away from the coveted 3,000 career win milestone. Silva guided Heather Dreyfuss & Ron Shenofsky's Foxey Jeblar to a score in Thursday's second race for his career victory 2,997.
Jockey Shane Laviolette had a riding double at Arlington Park Thursday, four days after miraculously escaping serious injury in a horrific spill Sunday here.
Frank C. Calabrese's Jaha, bred in France, will make his seasonal bow in Saturday's seventh race, after being away from the races since last year's $75,000 Manila Stakes, when he was third after being fractious in the gate. Also in that race was Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s War Emblem, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this spring. War Emblem finished seventh in the Manila after breaking his maiden at the local oval in his previous start.
Arlington Park will offer simulcast wagering on Calder Race Course's "Summit of Speed All-Stakes Pick Four" on Saturday, which has a $250,000 guaranteed pool.
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