|Arlington Park Barn Notes 05/11/03
In today's notes:
Still feeling good following Saturday's neck tally in the second running of the $100,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap, Padua Stables & Fog City Stables Full Mandate was doing well Sunday morning.
"He came back super," said Billy Lopes, the assistant trainer for conditioner Steve Asmussen who will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of Asmussen's Arlington Park string. "He's doing very well this morning. That was a nice way to get the meet started."
Lopes, 23, a native of Rhode Island and the latest generation in a long line of New England horsemen, is one of four Asmussen assistants throughout the nation.
"Steve is still in Texas, enjoying the sun, I imagine," said Lopes as he toured the shedrow in Barn 1A with a veterinarian on a chilly Chicago Sunday. "We'll wait a few days to make sure Full Mandate comes out of Saturday's race and then see what comes up for him.
"This horse is finally starting to figure things out," said Lopes of Full Mandate, who has now won three in a row. "He's definitely going in the right direction his last few races."
Despite its young history, Full Mandate will have big shoes to follow as the second winner of the Black Tie Affair. John C. Oxley's Hero's Tribute, winner of the inaugural running here last fall, came back to win the prestigious Gulfstream Park Handicap in South Florida this winter and is presently poised as one of the primary threats in the handicap division throughout the nation this summer.
"We have a bunch of 2-year-olds here this summer," said Lopes, when asked to assess the local Asmussen contingent. "We're not in a position to vie for training honors or anything like that, but we'll see how these young horses turn out and then hope to have a pretty decent summer here at Arlington."
After prompting the early pace, Robert B. & Beverly J. Lewis' Voladero challenged for command inside the furlong grounds in Saturday's sixth race at Arlington Park and then drew off for a less than fully extended two-length score to provide the D. Wayne Lukas stable with its first score of the 2003 season at the local oval.
Voladero, a 2-year-old by Private Talk out of a Buckaroo mare, was bred by the University of Florida Foundation and purchased by the Lewises for $70,000. He was making the first start of his career on Saturday.
The Lewises, of course, have already posed in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle twice -- with Silver Charm in 1997 and Charismatic in 1999 -- so Voladero has a chance to join some select memories in 2004 on the first Saturday in May.
"We think he's going to be a nice horse," said Greg Falk, in charge of the local Lukas barn for the Hall of Fame trainer. "We think he has a future.
"We also have another 2-year-old named Salt Air, a Kingmambo colt, that we hope to start in the next few days," said Falk, "and he looks like he might be a nice colt as well.
"The majority of our horses here are owned by the Lewises and the Young family of Overbrook Farm," said Falk, "but we also have new owners named Clint and Susan Atkins and we have several nice horses for them. We have 28 horses here at Arlington right now, but another group at Churchill, so we plan on seeing where they fit and running them at both places."
Falk, 36, was born in Minnesota and started working for Lukas when the latter had a barn at Canterbury Downs in 1986. The young horseman has a home in Southern California where his wife and young daughter remain while he runs the Lukas shedrow here at Arlington for the summer. When Lukas assistant Randy Bradshaw went on his own for a couple of years Falk went with him but both eventually came back to the Lukas fold.
"I grew up around horses," Falk said, "but I wasn't really around racehorses until I started working for Wayne. I was here for Lukas in 1989, when Mark Hennig was his assistant here. I was Mark's stable foreman at the time.
"Winning the Arlington Million that summer with Steinlen was a big thrill," Falk said, when asked his memories of that summer of 1989, when Arlington's present modern facility was operating for its first season. "He was a very quiet, kind horse when he won, just as gentle as a lamb after a race. You could lead him back to his stall and do anything with him. But he was a different animal when he got beat. He'd get so mad you couldn't do him up or put bandages on him without him trying to kick you. He really knew what it was all about and knew the difference between winning and losing. It's a pleasure to be around horses like that."
The internationally prominent Godolphin racing operation, presently racing at Arlington Park as Darley Stud Management Inc., got off to a fast start locally when the 3-year-old Absent Friend won the fourth race in impressive fashion on Arlington's first day of racing Friday.
"This horse ran a little green when he made the first start of his career in Dubai this winter," said Dave Duggan, as the horses were being loaded in the gate for Friday's race. Duggan is in charge of the local string for trainer Eoin Harty. Older horses permeate the local barn for the first time this year.
"We're anxious to see how he runs today," Duggan said.
Absent Friend, an entire son of Runaway Groom did not disappoint his tutor. After trailing the field early, the Kentucky-bred out of a Fit to Fight mare rallied boldly when set down for the drive and drew off late for an eight and a quarter-length win.
"It's nice when they develop like that," said a relieved Duggan immediately after the race. "It's nice this year that we have some older horses with us. It's enjoyable to be able to keep some of the horses we started out with."
Defending jockey champion Rene Douglas had a riding triple Saturday, winning the second half of the daily double with Hoof N Feather Stable & Patrick Kelly's Suprem Dream before coming back with Voladero for Lukas and Full Mandate for Asmussen.
Defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano and defending owner champion Frank C. Calabrese had a trainer/owner triple Saturday, using jockey Curt Bourque on all three horses to share top Saturday's top riding honors with Douglas. The Catalano-Calabrese-Bourque triple began with Three Ladies Man in the third race, continued with River Reed in the seventh, and ended with York Air in the finale.
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