|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
Veteran jockey Ray Sibille, Arlington Park's leading rider in 1980 and currently fourth in the standings of Arlington's all-time leaders, will switch horse breeds in mid-season Saturday night when he drives in a celebrity harness competition at Balmoral Park in Crete, Illinois.
"It'll be a lot of fun," said Sibille Sunday morning at Arlington. "I'm really looking forward to it. The winner of the race gets $5,000, and if it's me I'll donate half of my earnings to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund and the other half to the Disabled Riders' Fund. Naturally, I'm hoping to win the race.
"This will be the fourth time I've driven in one of these events," said Sibille, who as a jockey surpassed the 4,000 career win milestone in Chicago more than two years ago. "A long time ago I drove in a harness race at Maywood, which I won, and then in another one at Washington Park. And when I rode out on the Southern California circuit, I drove in a harness race at Hollywood Park."
As a somewhat experienced driver, Sibille was asked if he had a particular strategy that had proved successful.
"Yes, it seems that the horse that comes from way back always wins," said Sibille. "The ones that are out front early never seem to stay up there at the end."
There will be two heats in Saturday night's event, and the celebrities will drive in tandem with professional harness drivers. Sibille will be teamed with Harness Hall of Fame driver Dave Magee.
Participating celebrities will also include former Chicago Blackhawk Ed Olcyyk, who was also a member of the New York Rangers Stanley Cup winning team in 1994, and Mike Adamle, the Channel 2 sports director and former member of the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.
Radio hosts Dan McNeill of ESPN 1000, David Kaplan of WGN-AM and Fred Huebner of The Score (WSCR) are also expected as celebrity drivers, as is former Chicago Bear wide receiver Wendell Davis.
As a jockey, Sibille is also noted for his perfect record in Breeders' Cup competition, with a winning ride aboard Class Act Stable's Great Communicator the Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in 1988. It was his only Breeders' Cup mount to date.
However, that perfect record may be in jeopardy. The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships come to Arlington Park for the first time in its history this fall, when Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval hosts the event on October 26.
Three longshots returned win payoffs of $40 or better on Saturday at Arlington Park on the same day that the local oval surpassed the $5 million mark in total handle for the first time this season.
It was also the day of Arlington Park's inaugural Hispanic "Fiesta In The Park" celebration, which attracted an estimated 1,000 fans.
The Fiesta was designed to bring some "Salsa" to the Thoroughbred races at Chicago's premier oval, and was introduced in recognition of the many Latino jockeys, horsemen, and Arlington Park employees.
However, it has also been a good weekend for wagering at Arlington. The combined Friday and Saturday total handle exceeded $10 million. A previous meet high of $4,671,690 was set Friday. Saturday's total commingled figure of $5,406,306 established a new season standard and was more than $2 million higher than the corresponding day in 2001.
Arlington Park guests on and off track that live for longshots have also been rewarded increasingly throughout the week.
On Saturday those players saw Greg Derybowski & Hat Trick Racing Stable's Six Straight Trics light up the tote board with a $40.60 win price in the third race. In the seventh event of the afternoon, S. & D. Holland & Curt Franson's The General's Bank paid $40, and Orion Stables' Last Tag recorded the highest straight price of all with a $61.40 mutuel in the eighth race.
The average win payoff Saturday afternoon was $20.80 for the 10-race program, an increase for the fourth straight racing day. The week began with an average win payoff of $8.04 Wednesday, was up to $13.88 Thursday, and increased once again to $17.84 Friday before breaking the $20 barrier Saturday.
A new 50-inch plasma television screen in the restaurant heads a list of continuing recent improvements at Trackside Arlington Park.
"The new plasma TV is an infusion of fresh blood into Trackside," quipped Jim Stumpf, Arlington Park's vice president OTB/ITW. "Actually, it is just one part of our on-going effort to improve television coverage at all five of our Trackside locations."
In addition to the Panasonic plasma television, recent upgrades at Trackside Arlington Park include the installation of approximately 60 nine-inch television monitors into the new individual desk carrels on the second floor as well as the adding of additional larger screens on both levels of the two-floor facility.
A total of 215 new televisions have been purchased for installation at all five Trackside OTBs. This is part of the over $400,000 capital expenditure initiative for 2002 for the Arlington Trackside facilities, which is designed to improve the customer conveniences and television viewing for our racing fans.
Fifteen years ago tomorrow, on July 15, 1987, Jack Van Berg made racing history at Arlington Park by becoming the first Thoroughbred trainer to win 5,000 races. The milestone victory came with a horse named Art's Chandelle.
Arlington Park race caller John G. Dooley infused Friday's program with some audio excitement early in the afternoon when he called a "forest of front-runners fighting for the lead." That's some awesome alliteration -- even from an advanced announcer.
Abel Melendez, from the barn of trainer Gene Cilio, will be honored as "Groom of the Week" at Arlington Park in a winner's circle ceremony prior to the fourth race Sunday. Arlington Park racing secretary and handicapper David Bailey will be the presenter.
Trainer Dee Poulos recorded her first victory of the season when she saddled Six Straight Trics to win the third race of the day.
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