|Arlington Park Barn Notes
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In today's notes:
James and Dennis Richard's Bonapaw, exceedingly impressive when winning the Grade I Vosburgh last Saturday at Belmont Park, will now be returning to Arlington Park -- the scene of two summer triumphs that vaulted him to national prominence -- to compete in the Grade I NAPA Breeders' Cup Sprint on October 26.
The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships come to Chicago and Arlington Park for the first time in their 19-year history on that last Saturday in October.
Bonapaw won the Grade III Hanshin Cup at Arlington by two and a quarter lengths July 20, and then improved off that performance to win the $100,000 Arlington Sprint by four and a half August 24. During that time frame, the 6-year-old altered son of Sabona was adopted by many Chicago Thoroughbred racing fans and members of the Windy City media as a "local" horse, and had a legion of admirers watching his winning Vosburgh performance on television last weekend.
"We kind of feel like the homeboy in Chicago," said trainer Norman Miller III from New York Tuesday morning. "We spent the whole summer at Arlington, and my dad was a racetracker around Chicago all his life. We love Arlington and we feel honored and happy that we'll be the local interest."
The change of plans to include the Breeders' Cup Sprint in Bonapaw's future came suddenly on Monday morning, when owner Dennis Richard took a call from the Breeders' Cup people informing him that supplementary nomination would be "only" $90,000. Originally, the owners had thought the supplementary Breeders' Cup nomination for Bonapaw was going to be $200,000 and not financially feasible.
"Dennis called me after that call from the Breeders' Cup and said: 'Ninety thousand! I can go into my own pocket for that,'" said Miller, recalling what the New Orleans-based owner told him about the impending change in plans.
"Then he called me right back," said Miller, who was still in New York Tuesday morning. "He said: 'Norman, don't ship the horse south (to New Orleans). I want you to ship west (to Chicago).'
"So now, I've got to get him back on track to train him up to the Breeders' Cup Sprint," said Miller. "I'll call David Bailey (Arlington racing secretary and handicapper) Wednesday morning and talk to him about coming back. Hopefully, we can van Bonapaw out of here Thursday morning and be back in Chicago at Arlington Thursday night."
Miller was asked about the trip to New York. Was it an extra thrill after shipping to New York to win a Grade I race at Belmont and lead the winner up the path to the winner's circle?
"I don't think it's really hit me yet," said Miller. "The late trainer Woody Stephens once said that the horses of out-of-town trainers shipping to New York sometimes didn't run as well after looking up and seeing all the tall buildings.
"Well, heck, I didn't have time to look at the buildings," Miller said. "I just kept my head down working on my horse, both before and after Saturday's race. I started rubbing on him again as soon as he got back to the barn."
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