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Arlington Park Barn Notes 06/7/03

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In today's notes:


Native Chicagoans of an artistic bent might mostly know Richard Otto as the president of the American Academy of Art, but lovers of the Thoroughbred might also know him as the owner and breeder of his own increasingly successful stable.

"Breeding begins with getting the right pedigree that looks good on paper," said Otto, "but it is when that good foal arrives: that's the kick."

Not only have the good foals arrived for Otto but in recent years those foals have gone on to be successful on the racetrack. It is in that last capacity that the art of Thoroughbred breeding as taught by Otto will be on display at Arlington Park Saturday, June 14 and again the following Saturday when the Prairie State Festival races are conducted at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval June 21.

Richard Otto Stable Inc.'s Summer Mis, three-length winner of an allowance feature at Arlington May 25, remains on track for a start in the Grade III Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap June 14. Last year, she captured the $86,750 Purple Violet Stakes on Prairie State Festival Day at Arlington.

This year, one week after Summer Mis goes in the Chicago Breeders' Cup 'Cap for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs, her little half-sister Julie's Prize will attempt to keep the Purple Violet Stakes trophy in the family by taking up the challenge in that one-mile test restricted to 3-year-old fillies registered in the Illinois program. Julie's Prize is also likely to have company when Otto's Natural Image, a four and three-quarter-length victress at last asking here May 16, will run with Julie's Prize as part of an entry.

Also a possible Otto color bearer on Prairie State Festival Day, when Arlington offers six straight stakes races for Illinois foals as part of an Illinois celebration of its heritage, is King Magic, a potential starter in the $75,000 Springfield Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile. That colt was second by a neck in his last trip to the post at Hawthorne April 25.

How does the president of the American Academy of Art, known for such diverse graduates as Haddon Sunblom (creator of the current image of Santa Claus) and Alex Ross (illustrator of Batman and Superman) get into such a different form of expression as breeding and owning race horses?

"I'm a big Chicago Bears fan," said Otto, born in Chicago and now with residences on Lake Shore Drive and Barrington. "Ed McCaskey (late Bears chairman) was a dear friend of mine, and one night he invited me to a dinner which also included the horse trainer Jack Weipert. We got talking, I got interested, and that's how it all began. I met Dick Duchossois (Arlington chairman) in 1984 and have gotten to know him rather well. In fact, I board my horses at Hill 'n Dale Farm."

Currently, Otto owns 25 horses, including babies, broodmares and horses in training. The horses in training are conditioned by Tony Mitchell.

"We work together as a team," said Otto of his association with Mitchell. "Everything we do is a team effort. He was a young guy who had worked hard and wanted to strike out on his own, and I wanted to give him a chance. I think we have a great future together."

Speaking of the future, Summer Mis and Julie's Prize have a younger sibling at the farm out of their dam Julie Mis. He is a yearling by Charismatic, winner of the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Summer Mis, incidentally, is by Summer Squall, who won the 1990 Preakness.

Julie Mis is currently in foal to Touch Gold, winner of the 1997 Belmont Stakes.


WinStar Farm LLC's Awesome Humor, heroine of Saratoga's Grade I Spinaway and Grade II Adirondack as well as Churchill's Grade III Debutante last year, returned from her winning effort in Friday's allowance feature at Arlington in good order and returned to Louisville early Saturday morning according to Shannon Ritter, Arlington assistant to trainer Elliott Walden.

Jim Tafel LLC's Lakenheath, winner of the Grade III Arlington Matron last year, also came out of Friday's feature at Arlington in fine fettle after her runner-up effort behind Awesome Humor said trainer Gene Cilio Saturday morning. Cilio plans on turning her out for a couple of weeks at Hill 'n Dale Farm in Barrington Hills before gearing her up for the Grade III Gardenia at Ellis Park Aug. 9 and a return engagement in the Arlington Matron Sep. 1.

Barry Golden's Bannock Burner, who broke his maiden by four and three-quarter lengths on opening day at Arlington this year, kept his undefeated string intact with a head tally in a mile and a sixteenth test over the Arlington lawn. Trainer Mike Stidham, on his way to Texas Saturday morning to start a 2-year-old Valid Expectations colt in a stakes race at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, indicated over the phone that he was keeping his options open with Bannock Burner and would consider races on both surfaces for the Alphabet Soup gelding's next start.


  Defending jockey champion Rene Douglas had a riding double Friday at Arlington, winning the late double with Awesome Humor in the eighth and Jerrold Schwartz & Hondo Ranch Inc.'s Cat On the Grass in the finale for trainer Frank Kirby. He enjoyed a two-race lead over Curt Bourque entering Saturday's program.

  Veteran Carlos Silva, celebrating his 47th birthday on Saturday, gave himself an early birthday present by winning the early double Friday, taking the opener with Ben Barnow's Starsoverparadise for trainer Richard Hazelton and the second with Earl Silver's Cuban Leaf for trainer Charlie Bettis.

  Jockey Chris Emigh also rode two winners Friday, winning the sixth on Arthur I. Appleton's Brightstone for conditioner Mickey Goldfine and the seventh astride Nancy A. Vanier & Lyda Williamson's Beret for trainer Harvey Vanier.

  Jockey Tommy Molina, injured in the paddock prior to Arlington's ninth race Friday, reported some soreness later in the evening but planned to fulfill his engagements Saturday.

  Lamont Nienast's Chantz, in apparent distress following the final race Friday, quickly recovered and was doing well as soon as he got back to the barn, trainer Percy Scherbenske reported Saturday morning.

  Kudos to Arlington jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. for applying a water hose to Chantz and staying with that horse throughout his brief moments of discomfort. Marquez is having an excellent season while tied for third place in the local standings through Friday.

  Juddmonte Farms' Chiselling, winner of last year's Grade I Secretariat at Arlington and a half-brother of to Belmont Stakes contender Empire Maker, finished fourth in Belmont's eighth race on the main track Friday.

  Veteran jockey agent Harry "The Hat" Hacek has taken the book of apprentice jockey Cruz Contreras at Arlington effective immediately.

  Congratulations to owner Frank C. Calabrese, trainer Wayne Catalano and jockey Curt Bourque for winning Arlington's owner, trainer and jockey of the month awards for May.

- END -



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