|Arlington Park Barn Notes 07/10/03
In today's notes:
Starlex Farm's Private Son, somewhat of a disappointment when sixth in the Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park July 5 after finishing second in last year's renewal, came out of the race in good order and may start next in the Grade III Arlington Handicap at a mile and a quarter on the grass July 26, trainer Sally Schu indicated Wednesday.
"Private Son came out of the Stars and Stripes very well," Schu said during morning training hours. "I think the mile and a half is just too far for him. I know he finished second a year ago, but last year's race was run a little differently. Last weekend, he was right in the thick of things until the last part of it but just couldn't keep going for a mile and a half.
"I think he's a little mad at me," said Schu, "like he was saying, 'Look, I ran a good race. Just don't ask me to go that far again.'
"There's a big difference between a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half for a lot of horses," said Schu, "and he's one of them."
The Arlington Handicap is the final local prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, signature race of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season. That showcase event will be run at a mile and a quarter on Arlington's world famous turf course August 16 as part of the International Festival of Racing.
R'n R Breeders' Act of War, who captured Arlington's $86,150 Cardinal Handicap by two lengths June 21 after trailing the field in the early going, will now be pointed toward the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 26, according to trainer Gene Cilio.
"We'll see how the race shapes up," said Cilio Wednesday, just prior to saddling two winners during the afternoon's races, "but Act of War is doing very well right now and we're taking a long look at the Arlington Handicap."
Act of War, by the good turf sire Lord At War, had won an allowance race at Arlington on the main track May 24 prior to his grassy score in the Cardinal.
Cilio, currently second in the Arlington trainer standings behind defending champion Wayne Catalano, is now four wins off Catalano's pace following the conclusion of Wednesday's racing program.
The 74-year-old native Chicagoan saddled Gold Spike, a Steven Holland & Crown's Way Farm-owned juvenile filly making the first start of her career, to win the sixth race of the day with Curt Bourque in the irons, and came back with Crown's Way Farm's Gracility to win the eighth, with Chris Emigh up.
Veteran Illinois-based reinsman Chris Emigh, third leading rider at Arlington Park last season, started off this racing week by riding a "hat trick" on Wednesday's program. It was the second time this season that the 32-year-old Emigh has posted a riding triple on a single card.
Emigh, currently fifth in the local standings, closed the gap for fourth by winning the second half of the opening daily double and both parts of the late daily double.
The native of Portsmouth, Virginia, captured Wednesday's second race aboard K. K. & V. Devi Jayaraman's Turn To The Prince for trainer Steve Hobby, then came back to win the late daily double on Crown's Way Farm's Gracility for conditioner Gene Cilio in the eighth and Columbine Stable's McKee's Gallery for Albert Stall Jr. in the finale.
Jockey Uriel Lopez took advantage of the chance to gain greater recognition on the Illinois circuit by registering a riding double Wednesday that was reinforced by a good runner-up finish on the same program.
"Three wins would have been fun," said Lopez, 36, born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, when speaking of his "almost" first riding triple at Arlington, "but I was happy with both my wins. Things are starting to come around for me."
Lopez won Wednesday's opener with Wexler Stables Inc.'s Alycheq for trainer Charlie Vinci and the seventh on Homola, Portman, Carman & Brueggemann's Timely Ending for conditioner Roger Brueggemann.
"The first winner dragged me to the front," said Lopez. "He was the class of the race, and the second one (winner) will go along good for you if you do things his way and don't try to rush him too much. The filly (West, Mentz & Lothenbach Stable's Shimmering Sea) gets a little nervous, but she's a nice filly. She tried hard and held on for the second spot."
Lopez is quick to credit his agent John Christiano with his improved business this year, and is thankful to his wife Erien and four kids for their constant support.
"When I have a good day, they are there for me, and when I have a bad day they are there for me as well," Lopez said.
Although born in Mexico, Lopez came to this country with his parents in 1975, and credits his brother Francisco, a teacher and weekend exercise rider, with introducing him to the racetrack.
"I didn't much like horses," said Lopez, who is blessed with a self-deprecating sense of humor. "I thought they looked much too big. But I needed a job so I started walking hots for Hondo Ranch. One of the first skills I learned as a rider was how to land when I fell off. Shortly after that I started to learn how to stay on a horse."
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