|Arlington Park Barn Notes 5/9/03
In today's notes:
A well-spoken, extremely personable young reinsman named Chris DeCarlo is "one to watch" during the upcoming 2003 season at Arlington Park.
DeCarlo, born and raised in Edison, N.J., knows something about fast starts. Eighteen years ago, he won with the first mount of his career when he guided Romeo's Mistress to the winner's circle at Aqueduct. Maybe that wasn't so surprising when you consider that he began galloping horses when he was 14 and 15 years old for trainer Allen Jerkens, at the time the youngest conditioner ever inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga.
Even before that, it was Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. that was responsible for getting him started on the racetrack.
"Years ago, my mother's father, who was a singer in Puerto Rico, got to be good friends with Cordero when he was still riding there," DeCarlo said. "My grandfather had wanted to be a jockey, and the two of them continued their friendship in the United States. They noticed my small size as a youngster and began guiding me toward a career as jockey from an early age. I got on my first horse when I was five years old, and it was Cordero and Jorge Velasquez who taught me the most when I first started working on the New York circuit."
Despite a few untimely gaps in his career caused by injuries, DeCarlo has managed to establish himself as one of the better riders on the East Coast, winning such major stakes as the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga, The Garden State at Garden State Park, and the Pan American at Gulfstream.
"My biggest win, however, was in the 1986 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park," said DeCarlo. "That came aboard Wise Times for Mr. (Russell) Reineman, and was one of my biggest thrills."
Ironically, DeCarlo, who will ride the initial Arlington Park race of his career on Arlington's 2003 first day of racing, was supposed to come here last season, but broke his back in a spill on April 11, 2002, at Gulfstream and was out of action for most of the summer before returning in New Jersey to ride late in the Monmouth Park meeting.
"I was looking forward to riding here at Arlington in 2002," DeCarlo said, "and was set to come here with (agent) Dennis Cooper."
Cooper, of course, has been responsible for the career upturn of Rene Douglas, leading rider at Arlington Park the last two summers as well as the 2000 title garnered by his former employer Mark Guidry.
"But I wanted to get off to a good start," said DeCarlo, "and if I'd come in late your season last year, where no one knew me and I was coming off an injury, I would have compromised my chances of making a good first impression. Coop and I talked it over, and we decided to wait until this summer."
Fortunately, DeCarlo's wife Jenny, who works in the marketing department at Gulfstream during the winter, will be fulfilling similar duties in Arlington's marketing department for the 2003 season.
"Naturally, we're very glad to be at Arlington this summer," said DeCarlo. "It is one of the most beautiful facilities I have ever seen, and with Coop getting my mounts for me, my wife and I are looking forward to enjoying our summer in Chicago."
Who would be among the conditioners most likely to challenge defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano for the 2003 Arlington Park training title?
Veteran Illinois horseman Michael Reavis would have to be on the short list. Reavis, who was born in Fairbury, Illinois, is presently on a roll, coming off the latest of many training titles at Hawthorne Race Course, and was asked to assess his chances for a possible first title at Arlington Park.
"For the first 30 days of this meeting, I'll be regrouping," Reavis said on the morning of Arlington's first day of racing in 2003. "I'll be reorganizing and trying to sort things out. I lost some horses through claims at the Hawthorne meeting, and, of course, I also lost some conditions there. Also, I can't keep the same kind of stock here at Arlington that I ran there, so I've also sold some of the horses I ran there.
"So, as for my chances of winning the training title here, I just can't tell right now. Let me sort my stock out for the next six or seven weeks and then come see me and ask me again. Maybe by then I'll be able to tell you," Reavis smiled. "Maybe by then I'll be able to tell you if I'm leaving or staying."
It's the first day of racing for Arlington Park's 2003 meeting on May 9, but it's also an anniversary for Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval. Thirteen years ago, on May 9, 1990, Arlington's opening day that season, it was Arlington and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas that pioneered co-mingled wagering across state lines. That day served as the birth of the simulcast era.
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