|Arlington Park Barn Notes
In today's notes:
Michael Tabor's Zavata, one of the top 2-year-olds in training last summer at Saratoga, breezed a half-mile in :50 2/5 at Arlington Park Sunday morning in preparation for his upcoming engagement in the Grade I Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile October 26.
The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships come to Arlington Park and Chicago for the first time in their 19-history on that last Saturday in October and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is traditionally an important barometer toward the eventual 2-year-old Eclipse Award honors.
Zavata, who won the Grade III Tremont at Belmont Park last June 29, and the Grade II Saratoga Special in upstate New York August 14, finished third, beaten three and three-quarter lengths in the Grade I Hopeful at the Spa August 31. The Phone Trick colt has been away from the races since that outing, but arrived at Arlington along with internationally renowned trainer Patrick Biancone last Monday to prepare for the Juvenile.
In his Sunday morning outing, accomplished in company with a Biancone-trained maiden 2-year-old named Murray's D. J., Zavata recorded splits of :13 3/5, :26 and :37 4/5 on his way to his four-furlong time. The bay youngster galloped out five-eighths in 1:03 3/5.
Zavata's move was recorded one day after the Biancone-trained Whywhywhy worked a bullet move of :59 3/5 going five-eighths while also pointing toward the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. That Fabien Ouaki and Biancone-owned youngster won the Grade I Futurity at Belmont Park in his last start September 15.
"Both horses worked very well," said Biancone Sunday morning when summarizing his youngsters' weekend activities. "Zavata and Whywhywhy both seem to like this beautiful weather here in Chicago, and the weather, when it's like it is today, is also very good for our training schedule.
"Both horses came out of their workouts very well," Biancone said, "and I'm very pleased with the way they are progressing.
"I will probably work Whywhywhy again on Thursday and Zavata the next time this coming Friday," Biancone said.
Stronach Stables Inc.'s Macho Uno, an Eclipse Award winner two years ago presently in the midst of comeback, continues to move forward in his preparations for a possible start in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic at Arlington Park October 26.
The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships come to Arlington Park and Chicago for the first time in their 19-year history on that last Saturday in October, and the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic highlights the afternoon as the richest race currently run in North America.
On Sunday morning during training hours at Arlington, Macho Uno galloped a mile and a half for the second straight day under exercise rider Tim McCanick as well as the watchful eye of trainer Joe Orseno. The 47-year-old Orseno, a native of Philadelphia, arrived back in Chicago from his New York headquarters Friday night.
"I'm very pleased with him today," said Orseno when speaking of Macho Uno on Sunday. "I couldn't be happier with the way he's really starting to move forward. I think I will probably do something a little more serious tomorrow (Monday).
"Right now, I'm planning on starting him off at the mile pole in an open gallop, and then pick it up a little bit for the last half," Orseno said. "Tim will be aboard once again. He knows this horse like the back of his hand. I thought about bringing Gary Stevens (regular rider) in for the move, but it's really not necessary. Tim and Gary have known each other a long time and they communicate very well."
Macho Uno, a son of 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull, has been very inconsistent this season but still shows flashes of the brilliance that he demonstrated when winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2000 at Churchill Downs.
He finished an unimpressive fifth in his last start in the Grade II Washington Park Handicap here September 29. That $400,000 mile and three-eighths affair served as the final local prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic, which will be run at a mile and a quarter.
"He didn't run very well, but I still feel he got a lot out of that race," said Orseno Sunday.
James Tafel LLC's Softly, fourth in the Grade III Turfway Park Breeders' Cup in her last start September 14, finds a softer spot when she heads a field of seven named to Monday's $48,500 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Arlington Park on Columbus Day.
The featured event of the rare Monday racing program at Arlington is for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward and will be run at a mile and an eighth.
In that last start in Northern Kentucky, Softly was unhurried early, improved position in the late stages but was never a serious threat. Previously, however, the daughter of Binalong, bred by her owner, was a good third in the Grade III Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park August 10.
Earlier in the year, Softly won four straight races, two at Gulfstream last winter and one each at Keeneland and Churchill Downs during the spring. Jockey Eddie Razo Jr. is named to handle the reins aboard the Carl Nafzger trainee.
WinStar Farm LLC's Giving Noreen, who won a Saratoga allowance race in her last start August 30, could provide strong competition for Softly. The Florida-bred daughter of Valid Wager, trained by Elliott Walden, has Arlington leading rider Rene Douglas listed for the irons.
Facing the top two are George D. Michalson's Magic Motel, Chris Emigh; Paul Tonderum's Sharky's Review, Luis Quinonez; Nelson Bunker Hunt's McKinney, Corey Lanerie; Stonerside Stable LLC's Beck Virtue, Elvis Trujillo; and Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s Pretty Gale, Larry Sterling Jr.
A moving Memorial Service -- garnished with positive thoughts and pleasant remembrances -- was held Sunday morning on the backstretch of the local oval on behalf of Arlington Park outrider Conrad Rountree.
Rountree, 64, a native of Hamilton, Texas, died early Saturday morning at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights after suffering an apparent heart attack here shortly before Friday's races.
Sunday's service, conducted under a tent near Arlington Park's backstretch track kitchen, began with bagpipes, included a eulogy from Deacon Ed Kaczmarek, and a moving memorial tribute from Rountree's son Mike, who accompanied his sisters Liz and Jenny to the service. Rountree's pony "Dancer" stood a short distance away in a posture of dignity and respect.
"My father would want to be remembered with a smile," Mike Rountree said. "He didn't want to ever grow old emotionally, and he never did. He went as he would have wanted to go, getting ready for the races on a beautiful day at the most beautiful racetrack in the nation."
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