|Arlington Park Barn Notes 05/16/03
In today's notes:
Saturday is shaping up as an exciting day at Arlington Park for people of all ages wanting an introduction to Thoroughbred racing.
As fans come through the gates they will have the chance to shake hands with a jockey dressed in racing silks even before they watch the first race run at Arlington that afternoon.
And since Saturday is also Preakness Day, middle jewel of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, those new to the sport can watch and wager on a simulcast of the Grade I Preakness from Baltimore where Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide will try to extend his chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years since Affirmed pulled off the sweep in 1978.
Also, Saturday is Armed Forces Day throughout the nation, and all members of the Armed Services will receive free admission for themselves and their families by presenting their military identification at the track. As part of the Arlington Park ceremonies, a military Color Guard will present the Colors during a midday ceremony.
But it is the opportunity to meet a jockey upon arrival at Arlington that is the most recent innovation at the suburban Chicago oval, and jockeys Ray Sibille, Michael Doyle, Jesse Campbell and Mary Jo Brennen will make up Saturday's group.
"Jockeys are like movie stars for the kids and some of the adults, too," said Cliff Goodrich, president of Arlington Park. "I doubt many people have been given the opportunity to meet them as they walk through the gates. I think it's a nice touch, and it's nice of the jockeys to agree to do it. It should be fun for everybody.
"Arlington's 'Meet and Greet Program,' where employees welcome our guests as they pass through the gates has been in effect before this season," Goodrich said, "but Joy Spindler, our guest services manager, came up with the idea of the expanding the group of greeters this year. As a result, jockeys, chefs and mutuel clerks in their working uniforms and others have been added to the mix. The additional members of the Arlington family will be equally split between the clubhouse and grandstand gates from 1 to 1:30 p.m. as our guest arrive."
Just how good is Fifteen Rounds, the Christine Janks-trained undefeated 3-year-old who won Sunday's third race while less than fully extended?
"I think he's going to be a really good horse," said Janks, "very probably the best horse I've had since Cycylya Zee."
That's high praise. Cycylya Zee won the prestigious Arlington Matron in 1976 as a 3-year-old filly running against older mares, an accomplishment not repeated until Megan's Bluff upset her older rivals 24 years later.
"But Cycylya Zee was a very hard horse to train," said Janks. "She was extremely temperamental and needed to have things her own way. This horse (Fifteen Rounds) lets you do whatever you want with him however you want to do it. He's always been a very gentle horse since the day we started him in training and we've always had high hopes for him because he's so professional in his approach to the whole learning process."
Living up to expectations, Fifteen Rounds, owned by Janks' Emerald Ridge Farm and Orlando-based Justice Department attorney Ken Meeker, broke his maiden at first asking April 1 at Hawthorne, making the pace and drawing off steadily in the lane under a hand ride for a 10½-length tally.
By the sire Fit to Fight, Fifteen Rounds is out of the late Fast Play mare Star of the Dance, who died recently while foaling an Elusive Quality filly who was also unable to be saved.
"My husband Barry named Fifteen Rounds based on his sire's name," said Janks. "He was thinking that a true champion had to be able to go the championship distance of 15 rounds in a prizefight, and after he won that first race at Hawthorne, he said 'Well, we got through Round One okay.'
"Sunday was Round Two," Janks said of her Florida-bred gelding's second straight score, "and now we have to point him toward Round Three."
When might that be?
"Probably not for about three or four weeks," said Janks. "We'll see how he comes out of that race over the next few days and then start looking for another opportunity for him."
Jockey Tommy Molina, who had a riding double on the first day of racing during the young Arlington season, continues to win consistently and is currently fourth in the standings.
Molina, 25, born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, added to his opening day double by winning aboard Orion Stables' Morning Merry in Sunday's ninth race and added a fourth score to his local total in Thursday's opening event astride Old Gold and Purple Racing Stables LLC's Lord Bon.
"I've been lucky so far this year," said Molina. "I work hard in the mornings here every day, seven days a week, so maybe it's all beginning to pay off.
Molina, whose engagements are being handled by former Arlington Park jockey Abner Sorrows Jr., began his riding career in 1999. He came to the United States the next year and rode at Gulfstream and Calder before coming to Illinois.
My Sweet Heart, a 3-year-old filly who is a half-sister to 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem, makes her racing debut in Friday's ninth race at Arlington Park. The daughter of You and I is owned by Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc. and was bred in Illinois by Charles Nuckols Jr. and Sons.
In Saturday's sixth race at Arlington, restricted to 3- and 4-year-old maidens, three horses who were expensive sales purchases face each other when making their racing debuts. Bob & Beverly Lewis's Grand Chance, a Grand Slam colt trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was a $700,000 purchase as a yearling. He faces Darley Stud Management Inc.'s Ya Lajwaad, a Deputy Minister colt who passed under the hammer for $600,000 and is now in the hands of conditioner Eoin Harty, as well as Louie J. Roussel III's Sports Hero, who was bought for a $400,000 tag two years ago and is trained by his owner.
Defending Arlington Park jockey champion Rene Douglas once again is the leader at the fledgling 2003 session with seven winners. The Panamanian reinsman had a riding double Thursday, scoring with Reed & Lewis's Valida in the fifth and Albert M. Stall Jr.'s Fine Stormy in the eighth.
Jockey Curt Bourque, who rides first call for defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano and defending owner champion Frank C. Calabrese, is second in the jockey standings with six wins.
Jockey Eduardo Perez, third in the current local standings with five winners, had his second successive riding double Thursday, winning aboard Burt Culver & Nancy A. Vanier's Pine Valley in the seventh and coming back with Richard Perkins & Edward Stewart's Iota in the finale on the program.
Jockey Larry Sterling Jr., coming off a jockey championship at the recently concluded Hawthorne meeting, also had a riding double at Arlington Thursday, winning the second half of the daily double with Lamont Nienast's Synco Peach and coming right back to the winner's circle with Richard A. Englander's Prado Wells in the third.
Trainer Spanky Broussard saddled a training double Thursday at Arlington, saddling Lord Bon in the opener and Richard F. Rudolph's Castlewood in the sixth.
Arlington Park will offer family day activities this Sunday with pony rides, a petting zoo and face painting for the kids as well arts and crafts.
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