|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
Moyglare Stud's Jazz Beat, who journeyed to Chicago from Ireland earlier this week, got his first view of the Arlington Park racecourse Friday morning when he toured the oval to stretch his legs after clearing quarantine.
The Dermot Weld trainee, eighth in the Budweiser Irish Derby in his last trip to the post June 30, has come to America for Sunday's $225,000 American Derby, Arlington's oldest stakes race and a Grade II event that serves as the second leg of the Mid-America Triple.
The American Derby is at a mile and three-sixteenths, probably more to Jazz Beat's liking than those 12 furlongs at The Curragh. However, the American Derby is also 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 at Arlington on August 17.
Two years ago the globetrotting Weld brought Highland Farms, et al.'s Pine Dance to Arlington for the American Derby and surprised the field with an impressive score although lightly-regarded in the wagering. In fact, four of the last six American Derby winners have been European based prior to their American Derby accomplishments.
Now comes Jazz Beat, who journeyed to France from Ireland Monday and then came to Chicago on an eight-hour flight from Paris.
"Everything was good on the trip," said Irish exercise rider Jeffrey Byrne Friday morning. "The flight was good, and when he got off the van at Arlington, he drank a little water and settled right in. We took him out to the track this morning to let him stretch his legs a bit and he came back bouncing."
Jazz Beat appeared fresh and alert but very relaxed shortly after his introduction to the local course. A dark bay or brown colt with one white right hind sock and only a touch of a white star below his forelock, the sophomore was interested in his surroundings at the Quarantine Barn but hardly overwhelmed by them.
"He's a very professional horse," said Byrne. "He just goes about his business and concentrates on what he's doing. In that last race (Irish Derby), he was right in the midst of it turning for home but the ground was slow, too muddy for him, and it was probably a little too far for him as well."
Following the Grade II Arlington Classic, first leg of the Mid-America Triple run on June 29, Southern California-based trainer Wally Dollase indicated that Richard L. Duchossois' Stonemason would return for the American Derby. However, it is Horizon Stable's Mananan McLir who will go to the post in the second leg of the Triple as Dollase's representative.
What happened to Stonemason? "He's fine," said Dollase, speaking over the phone from the West Coast. "He's just not quite ready to come back that quick. He's going to be a very nice horse, and I don't want to ruin him by rushing him. We lost a little time with him after we bought him, because we thought we'd have him in about three weeks, but three weeks turned into five weeks, and he had started to let down a little bit by the time we got him. Naturally, I couldn't expect them (the European sellers) to train him for me.
"I'll find out when he's ready to run again after I work him a mile," said Dollase. "It takes some time for a horse to get acclimated to our system, and I've found that horses will tell you how to train them. I've also decided he needs blinkers, so I have to get him used to those. He's too good a horse to rush. I've got to feel confident that he's ready for his next step. Right now, I just feel lucky I was able to get that one race into him.
"However, I expect Mananan McLir will give a good account of himself on Sunday," said Dollase. "He arrived at Arlington without incident and I thought he ran well in his last race (the Grade III Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap June 30). He finished fourth that day, but the three horses that were in front of him were the best we've got out here (in Southern California).
"That was a good race for him and I expect him to improve off of it," said Dollase. "He'll get more ground in this race, and I think he'll like the turf at Arlington a little better. Your course has a little more give to it. Out here the course is probably a little too hard for him."
Top turf rider Frankie Lovato Jr. did it again Thursday -- won the last race of the day on the grass!
On Thursday, Lovato came with a bold late rush aboard Patrick Livney & Richard Otto Stables Inc.'s Thomas Crown in the program finale at a mile and a sixteenth over the lawn and drew clear by a length and a half.
Two racing days earlier, also in the last race of the afternoon, Lovato cleverly rated Wertheimer Farm's Attico in a one-mile turf test. Using those same tactics, Lovato closed with a late rush to be best by a neck at the wire.
This keeps happening. Perhaps the most under-publicized top turf rider in the local jockey colony, Lovato has 15 wins at the meeting, and eight of those have come on the turf. That's an impressive figure for horsemen who are considering Arlington's upcoming group of prestigious grass stakes races.
Also, through the first 32 days of the racing season, Lovato has ridden in the last race of the day 17 times, and won eight of those. That translates to a 47 percent win ratio in racing day finales.
Lastly, seven of Lovato's eight last-race wins have come in turf course races, and the eighth was accomplished in a race taken off the turf.
Green Bay Packer great Willie Davis, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981 after a career with the Pack from 1960-69, will be recognized at Arlington Park when he attends the races Saturday at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval.
A 17th-round draft choice, he came to the Packers from the Cleveland Browns in a 1960 trade, and became an All-Pro defensive end one of the premier pass rushers in pro football history.
Sixty-seven years ago tomorrow, on July 20, 1935, Belair Stud Stable's Omaha made his final start in the United States, winning the mile and a quarter Arlington Classic in 2:01 2/5. Earlier that spring Omaha had won the Triple Crown.
Leading rider Rene Douglas scored a riding triple Thursday at Arlington.
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