|Arlington Park Barn Notes 05/18/03
In today's notes:
Ronnie Lamarque's Bright Valour, who won Saturday's featured Arlington Park event with an exciting nose victory in the final jump before the wire, kept a perfect two-for-two record intact for the day for the barn of trainer Louie Roussel III.
One race earlier, Roussel's own Sports Hero, a 4-year-old maiden making his first lifetime start after being purchased for $400,000 as a yearling, made his own debut a winning one after a much delayed beginning to his own career.
"It was a big day for us," said Lara Van Deren, Roussel's Canadian-born Arlington assistant as she prepared to take her father to the Field Museum for a well-deserved afternoon off in town. "I didn't talk to Louie until after the races were over but he was very pleased.
"Both horses came back very well, ate up everything last night and were doing well this morning, so that makes me think we're on the right track with both of them.
"I thought Bright Valour's race yesterday was just as impressive as his one before that at Hawthorne," said Van Deren. "The only difference was that he got eight lengths clear in the other race. Yesterday, he had some trouble at the break and had to come from way back. I really didn't think he was going to get there, but he exploded and then jumped forward at just the right time at the wire. I don't think he ever saw that horse coming at him on the outside."
Bright Valour, winless in 10 starts since a tally last July at Arlington, has now won two in a row as a 7-year-old, so Van Deren was asked what was in his immediate future.
"I haven't looked that far ahead," said the 30-something former body builder. "We like to give them three or four weeks between races so we'll be looking around in about a month."
Van Deren, who trained her own horses at Arlington when she came here for the first time in 1996 under her maiden name of Garbig, also talked about the career bow of Sports Hero, who won Saturday's sixth race by a half-length after a much delayed beginning.
"He has been plagued with problems," Van Deren said. "When Louie bought him out of the sale (Fasig Tipton Saratoga in 2000) he had bucked shins, and then when he recovered from that he bucked again. We brought him back again after that but he came down with more shin problems.
"In all, he's had shin problems four different times," Van Deren said of the son of Mr. Prospector out of an Alydar mare, "so he's been a fragile horse, but now it appears he is fixed and on his way. He just didn't want to start as a youngster, but he worked early this week (:47 4/5 breezing on Monday) and told us he was ready to go. It just took him a long time to mature, but we're happy to get through that first race with him. It makes you feel good to know you did the right thing by taking so much time with him."
After breaking alertly, Bob & Beverly Lewis' Grand Chance, a 3-year-old Grand Slam colt who was purchased for $700,000 as a yearling, dueled for the lead throughout but could not stay with Sports Hero in the last strides when making his first start Saturday.
However, the Kentucky-bred sophomore from the barn of Hall Of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was easily second best, finishing two and a half lengths to the good of the third-place finisher.
"I was real pleased with the way he ran," said Greg Falk, in charge of Lukas' Arlington Park contingent this season, when speaking of Grand Chance. "He got a little tired at about the sixteenth pole, but I was very impressed with the horse that won it (Sports Hero). I thought that horse put on a tremendous performance.
"I talked to Wayne after the race and he was very pleased with the way he (Grand Chance) ran," said Falk of his boss, who was in Baltimore to saddle Ten Cents A Shine and Scrimshaw in the Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday. "Wayne has liked this horse all along. Grand Chance has just been delayed by the normal baby things like shin problems, so we've always wanted to take our time with him."
Falk worked another Lukas maiden, the highly regarded 2-year-old Saltire, early Sunday morning. Saltire got a half-mile in :50 breezing from the gate while working in company with the Lukas-trained Stormy Sea.
"That work was okay, but he didn't break as sharp as I would have liked," said Falk. "Nevertheless, he's ready to go and we'll look for a race later this week for him."
Leading owner Frank C. Calabrese, leading trainer Wayne Catalano and leading jockey Curt Bourque all celebrated two-win days at Arlington Park Saturday afternoon. Their doubles came as a team when together they combined to win the second half of Saturday's daily double with Spark Setter and came back to pose in the winner's circle with Calm Waters after the fifth.
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