|Arlington Park Barn Notes
In today's notes:
Eleven years ago, on September 14, 1991, Jeffrey Sullivan's Black Tie Affair won the Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park.
Trainer Ernie Poulos, who died in 1997, used the Grade II Washington Park as a final prep for the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic, a race Black Tie Affair won by a length and a quarter on his way to 1991 Horse of the Year honors. The Irish-bred won an additional Eclipse Award as Older Male that season.
But it was the Washington Park that started the award bandwagon rolling, and although Poulos is gone, his widow Dee, who now oversees the stable based at Arlington, fondly recalls the day Black Tie Affair won the Washington Park.
"It was the final stepping stone to the Breeders' Cup," said Poulos in her Arlington Park tackroom on the 11th anniversary of Black Tie Affair's local win. "We had a lot of confidence, but it was a very tough field, including Summer Squall and Go And Go, who had won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes respectively the previous year.
"Black Tie Affair was so used to shipping, that when we led him out, he started looking around for the van," Poulos said. "Ernie joked that we should call Drexler (Horse Transportation) and van him around the barn area a few times to wake him up.
"It was very humid and the track was muddy that day," said Poulos, "but it didn't affect him at all. He won the race by a large margin and that instilled even more confidence to go into the Breeders' Cup Classic with him.
"It's great to win any race," said Poulos, "but when you can win in your hometown, it's always extra special. Needless to say, this was a very inspirational race to win and gave us the confidence builder we needed.
"My sister Dianna Caramico came into town for the Washington Park and the three of us went out to dinner at the Wellington," Poulos said. "We always liked to go there after we won a big race. Her husband (the late Robert Caramico) couldn't come because he was the director of photography for the television show 'Dallas' and they were filming at that time. He was 'doing Dallas.'"
Was there any concern that Black Tie Affair would prefer a muddy track when he raced in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs?
"No, not really," said Poulos. "He was one of those horses that ran over everything. We never tried him on turf but that was because he ran so well on dirt. The only track he didn't seem to care for was Belmont when it was a little cuppy. He was multi-faceted, and could adapt and handle almost any kind of surface. You hope for that kind, and occasionally you get one."
Black Tie Affair isn't the only horse to have used the Washington Park Handicap as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Last year, another Chicago owner, Morton Fink, had his silks posed in the Arlington Park winner's circle following Guided Tour's win in the 2001 edition of the Grade II event. Guided Tour went on to finish a creditable fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont after challenging for command at the top of the stretch.
This year, the Grade II Washington Park Handicap will be run on Sunday, September 29 as the final local prep for the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic October 26, when the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships come to Arlington Park for the first time in their 19-year history. Also contested here on September 29 will be the $150,000 Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup Mile on the turf course as the final local prep for the Grade I Breeders' Cup Mile.
On Saturday, September 28 at Arlington Park, 2-year-olds will share the spotlight. The Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie will be run as the final local prep for the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies October 26.
Also, the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity will be contested. That will serve as the final local tune-up event for the Grade I Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile. If the 2-year-old who wins the Arlington-Washington Futurity goes on to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in conjunction with Bessemer Trust will award an additional $250,000 bonus to the owner of that youngster as part of the Bessemer Trust Two-Year-Old Challenge.
Together, the four stakes races run on September 28-29 as preps for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are being billed as "Preview Weekend At The Park" by Arlington Park.
Veteran reinsman Duane Salvino, a Chicago native riding on his hometown circuit for the first time in 17 years this summer, won both halves of Friday's daily double at Arlington Park to continue gathering momentum at the local oval.
Salvino scored with Lothenbach Stables Inc.'s Sparky Diamond in the opener and came right back astride Joni Koertgen's Redstar Dancer in the second.
"I've been sticking it out and working hard, and it's been paying off for me," said Salvino, 39, who had been riding in America's Heartland in recent years. "Things started off a little slow, but business has been picking up lately.
"I love Chicago," said Salvino. "They've got great fans here."
Unfortunately, for the time being at least, Salvino's wife Bridget; and children Devene, 10; Taylor, 8; Dominic, 6: and Tatum, 5; remain back in Kansas while Salvino reintroduces himself to local horsemen. He hopes to bring them to the Windy City shortly.
"That's the plan," Salvino said. "Hopefully, I can do good at Hawthorne after the Arlington season is over, and then at the meeting after that, and then I'll bring my wife and kids back here. This is where I started and this is where I'd like to stay."
Michele Salvino, Duane's sister, is a member of Arlington racing secretary and handicapper David Bailey's staff, and Terry Salvino, Duane's father and a veteran trainer and clocker on the Chicago circuit, is currently booking mounts for his son.
Ray Sibille, leading rider at Arlington Park in 1980, celebrated his 50th birthday Friday by riding Marc Goldish & Savoy Stable's Eccentric Type to victory in the third race.
Twenty-four years ago Monday, on September 16, 1978, Dotsam Stable's John Henry, the only two-time winner of the Grade I Arlington Million, made his Arlington Park debut by winning the Grade III Round Table Handicap by 12 lengths under jockey Jose Amy.
Twenty years ago Monday, on September 16, 1982, veteran Arlington Park jockey Randall Meier rode his first Arlington winner.
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