|Arlington Park Barn Notes 07/30/03
In today's notes:
John & Kris Richter's Bien Nicole, who weakened late to finish second by a length in Saturday's Grade III Modesty Handicap, remains a possibility for the Grade I Beverly D.
"She's still here and doing very well in this cooler weather we're having," said conditioner Don Von Hemel Wednesday morning, while watching one of his own horses breeze at Arlington Park's training track. "Donnie (Von Hemel's son and the trainer of record for Bien Nicole) is on vacation now, going to Sea World in San Antonio and then on to Padre Island, but he should be back at work next week, and he and Mr. Richter will make a definite decision then.
"The way that race was run Saturday was a little unexpected," said the senior Von Hemel. "I thought that #5 horse (Stony Oak Farm's Flager) would take back the way she did in her previous race, but she pressed us and Bien Nicole never got a chance to relax. But we thought she ran well Saturday and I think the fact that she is still here is a good sign. I think we'll know something a little more definite by the first part of next week."
Bien Nicole, a 5-year-old daughter of Bien Bien out of a Flying Paster mare, made the pace in the Modesty and gave way grudgingly to the favored Owsley, owned by Arthur B. Hancock III, in the final furlong. However, Bien Nicole proved easily best of the others in the final local prep for the Beverly D., finishing four lengths to the good of the third-place finisher.
Stony Oak Farm's Flager, who finished fourth in Saturday's Grade III Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park in her second start in the United States, appears unlikely at this time for a return in the Grade I Beverly D., sister race to the Arlington Million also run Aug. 16 as part of the International Festival of Racing.
"She seemed to come out of the race okay," said Flager's trainer Bobby Barnett, speaking over the phone from his Churchill Downs headquarters, "but I think the mile and a three-sixteenths (distance) is just a little out of her range. I think she'll probably be best at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth."
Flager, bred and raced in The Argentine prior to her American debut at Churchill Downs June 28, won that mile and a sixteenth Twin Spires turf test by 10 lengths. She has been under Barnett's tutelage since arriving in the United States two months ago.
"There's a race for her Aug. 17 at Monmouth (Grade III Matchmaker at a mile and an eighth)," said Barnett. "That's a little shorter than the Beverly D., so I think we'll probably shoot for that."
Ken Spraggins, breeder of William Pacella, Ronald T. Schwed & Joe Rizza's Wiggins as well as his original owner-trainer, is singing the praises of Wiggins' current conditioner Tony Granitz, who prepared the 2002 Illinois Two-Year-Old Champion for his victory last Saturday in Arlington's $100,000 Round Table Stakes.
"Tony has done an excellent job with him," said Spraggins following the Round Table. "I'm happy as I can be for him. Wiggins is the real deal, and the fact that I win a breeders' award every time he runs in Illinois doesn't hurt either."
Bret Barickman, a seasonal employee in Arlington Park's TV department for the last seven years, and Tommy Sroor, a member of Arlington's program department since 1989, both recently received Arlington's Aspire Award for responding and resolving situations to exceed expectations as Arlington employees.
While working in an Arlington camera tower last month, Barickman observed a man stealing items from cars in the parking lot, and alerted another cameraman to start video taping the man. That quickly led to the apprehension of the suspect, and the return of property to the car owners.
Sroor, a valued employee who has received multiple Aspire Award nominations throughout his Arlington career, went above and beyond the call of duty to assist customers through the gate during Arlington's well-attended Father's Day program while also fulfilling his many normal duties on that special celebratory program.
Groom of the Week at Arlington Park is Mauricio "Moe" Espinosa, a native of Pueblo, Mexico, who has been a valued groom at the stable of Arlington Park trainer Gene Cilio for the last eight years.
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