|Arlington Park Barn Notes 5/8/03
In today's notes:
Wayne Catalano is Arlington Park's defending trainer champion for the second time in three seasons, coming off a 2002 meeting when he saddled 64 winners from 180 starters to establish a single season record at the local facility.
During the 2000 season, Catalano won the Arlington trainer championship for the first time in his conditioning career, and in 2001 the former reinsman was in the hunt until the final day before falling two winners short to California invader Jerry Hollendorfer.
Nevertheless, two titles out of three ain't bad. Can it be three out of four?
"We're not as strong as we'd like to be," said the 46-year old Catalano when asked to assess his chances at the 2003 Arlington training championship, "but we should do okay. It's always a fight. Reavis (trainer Michael, who just won the Hawthorne title) is pretty strong, and I don't see him slowing down at this meeting. He does a great job.
"Steve Asmussen will be tough," Catalano said. "He always has a lot of horses here and they are coming from everywhere.
"And you can never forget about Harvey Vanier," Catalano said. "He's got a few (Arlington Park) crowns under his belt."
Asked about the best horses in his barn, Catalano began by talking about Fight For Ally, Frank Calabrese's 6-year-old who will shoulder the high weight of 117 pounds in Saturday's $100,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap.
"We're trying for six in a row with him," said Catalano of Fight For Ally, "but it is going to be a tough race. It's certainly no walkover.
"I also have a 2-year-old filly out of Silver Maiden," said Catalano. "We're looking for a bright future from her later in the season."
Silver Maiden, as all Arlington aficionados remember, won the Grade II Arlington-Washington Lassie for Calabrese here in 1997 when saddled by Britt McGehee and ridden by Shane Laviolette.
But it is a threesome of 4-year-olds bred in The Argentine that may prove to be the brightest stars from the Calabrese-Catalano tandem. Catalano has had them about a month since they cleared quarantine, and he is hopeful that they will fulfill their potential.
Ajedrez was unplaced in the Group I Joaquin de Anchorena in December when making his last South American start, but had finished second, beaten only a half-length in Argentina's Group I Joaquin Gonzalez International in November.
My Countess is a 4-year-old filly by 1996 Preakness winner Louis Quatorze who was two-for-two as a sophomore in Argentina.
Un Galito is a colt who broke his maiden in October last year while in South America and won the second race of his Southern Hemisphere season in November.
"All three look very promising," said Catalano, "so I'm hopeful that we're going to have a good season at Arlington Park in 2003."
Arlington Park jockey champion Rene Douglas, who successfully defended his 2001 title last season, has arrived at Arlington from his South Florida headquarters and shoot for his third straight title this summer at Chicago's premier oval.
"It's great to be back at Arlington," said Douglas mid-week during training hours. "It's a little chillier than it was in Florida but I don't mind. I've been very fortunate during my career at Arlington and this track has a lot of good memories for me."
Following a successful Gulfstream meeting this winter, Douglas arrived in Chicagoland in time to ride Bare Necessities in the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne on April 26. He then won a race Sunday at the Southside oval.
"My family is still in South Florida until the end of the school year," said Douglas, "but they will be joining me for the summer once that is finished."
Douglas, a 36-year-old native of Panama, has enjoyed an invigorated career since hooking up with agent Dennis Cooper at Arlington two years ago. The son of a jockey, Douglas won the 1996 Belmont Stakes aboard Editor's Note and the 1989 Washington D.C. International at Laurel astride Caltech.
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