|Arlington Park Barn Notes 07/13/03
In today's notes:
A Northern "Light" will be visible in Chicago Saturday when Frank Stronach's Phantom Light invades from Canada to run in the Grade II Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park.
With its $400,000 purse, richest prize of the Arlington meeting to date, the mile and three-sixteenths Washington Park 'Cap has attracted the almost-white Phantom Light, a blurring streak to his Canadian-based rivals in the Grade III Dominion Day Handicap at Woodbine Race Course on the outskirts of Toronto when last sent to the post July 1.
In the Dominion Day, run at a mile and a quarter, Phantom Light broke in full stride to make the pace throughout, drawing off steadily in the stretch for a four-length tally at the wire.
"He's an improving horse," said trainer Daniel Vella Sunday, speaking over the phone from his barn at Woodbine, "and he's pretty fit right now. I'll give him a maintenance breeze at five-eighths tomorrow morning (Monday) and the horse will ship Wednesday. I don't think I'll be coming down, but my assistant Richard Parcel, who trained horses at Arlington years ago, will be coming with the horse."
The only recent blemish on Phantom Light's 2003 season came in his start before the Dominion Day, when the Ontario-bred finished fifth in an allowance affair on June 7 when sent to the post as the choice of the fans.
"He was a little congested that day," said Vella. "There was a 'bug' going around here at the time and he must have picked up on it."
Prior to that disappointing effort, Phantom Light won the Grade III Eclipse Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth at Woodbine May 10 after making or pressing the pace throughout. Does the light gray 4-year-old colt need the lead?
"He will sit off the pace," said Vella. "He's a touch 'racy' at times, but it's not a real problem. He's by a Cozzene sire (Alphabet Soup), so being of the Caro line, I don't think a distance of ground should be any problem for him. He should be able to run all day. Judging by that last race, I would say his best distance is a mile and a quarter."
Vella, who estimates he has sent horses to Arlington a half-dozen times during his career, saddled Stronach's Explosive Red to win the 1993 American Derby at the Northwest suburban Chicago oval.
"I love racing at Arlington because it's a very well run racetrack and they always treat you so well," Vella said.
"Rene Douglas will ride the horse," Vella added. "Personally speaking, I've always felt having the leading rider at any racetrack was a big advantage. They seem to know the shortest way home. As for Rene, I feel he can ride with the best of them anywhere he goes."
Rene Douglas, Arlington's jockey champion for the last two seasons, won four races for the second time this season Saturday to increase his chances for a third straight title at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval.
At the conclusion of Saturday's program, the Panamanian-born reinsman had 55 winners, well in front of second leading jockey Curt Bourque, who had two Saturday trips to the winner's circle for a total of 41 through the conclusion of the day's races.
Douglas won the third race aboard Frank C. Calabrese's True Genius for trainer Wayne Catalano. The veteran then came back to win three straight, taking the seventh with WinStar Farm LLC's Victory Light for trainer Elliott Walden, the eighth with Marc Goldish & Savoy Stable's Mr Mississippi for trainer David Paulus, and the ninth with Lucky M for the Calabrese/Catalano tandem.
Bourque won the fifth on Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s Valiant King for trainer Harvey Vanier and the tenth on WinStar Farm LLC's Kris Star for Walden following a disqualification of the first horse under the wire.
Trainers Catalano and Walden, as well as owner Calabrese, also ended Saturday with two-win afternoons.
Jockey Zoe Cadman, Arlington Park's "Rising Star" award winner two years ago as an apprentice, almost visited the winner's circle as a harness driver at Balmoral Park Saturday night.
"I almost won it," said Cadman at Arlington Sunday morning after driving in tandem with professional harness driver Tim Tetrick in a Celebrity Challenge race at the Crete, Illinois, trotting horse oval late Saturday. "I was on the lead all the way and thought I was going to win it all. I was flying -- or at least I felt like it. It was a lot of fun."
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