|Arlington Park Barn Notes 8/30/03
In today's notes:
One year ago, Jim Tafel LLC's Lakenheath was somewhat overlooked in the Grade III Arlington Matron Handicap, but the homebred daughter of Colonial Affair challenged for command in the late stages of the nine-furlong affair and was up to tally by a head at the wire.
Now, as a 5-year-old mare, Lakenheath is set to defend her Matron championship in Monday's Labor Day feature at Arlington Park, and once again she will not be the post time choice in the wagering.
That honor will go to Select Stable's Take Charge Lady, considered one of the best older members of the distaff set currently in training. That 4-year-old filly invades Arlington Park as the star attraction of the extended holiday weekend, and among her accomplishments this year is a loss by a head to Horse of the Year Azeri in Oaklawn's Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap.
"Whether we can beat that other filly (Take Charge Lady) I don't know," said Lakenheath's trainer Gene Cilio, when asked about his competition on Monday, "but I know Lakenheath will run her race."
Lakenheath breezed three furlongs in :35 Friday morning during training hours, a bullet move that underlined Cilio's assessment of her present form.
"Lakenheath is at the top of her game right now," said Cilio. "I know (Take Charge Lady) is a tough filly, but she hasn't run in a while and is shipping to a track where she didn't run that well last year. My horse has been here and always run well here."
Take Charge Lady and Lakenheath met in last year's Grade I Spinster at Keeneland, a race which Take Charge Lady won by two and a half lengths with Lakenheath finishing a distant seventh.
"She didn't handle that (Keeneland) track at all," said Cilio of Lakenheath, who is named after an Air Force base in England where Tafel was stationed during the war, "but she's always loved the surface at Arlington."
Another highlight in addition to the 67th running of the Grade III Arlington Matron during Monday's Labor Day festivities is a free Arlington Park umbrella to the first 5,000 paid admissions through the gates.
Guests who arrive in time to qualify will be given a coupon to redeem their umbrellas before they leave so that won't be encumbered with their gift throughout the race day.
Also included at Arlington Park Monday will be Family Day activities for the holiday crowd, featuring pony rides, a petting zoo, a face painter and a caricature artist for the younger fans, as well free crafts events in the Park area.
There will also be an American Airlines Sweepstakes for two round trip tickets to go anywhere in the continental United States.
Two former members of the 1986 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears -- Tom Thayer and Roland Harper -- will have an autograph session from 3 to 4 p.m. at the foot of Arlington Park's Grand Staircase on Monday.
Members of Arlington Park's Junior Jockey Club will enjoy one of their favorite days Sunday of Labor Day weekend when they learn about Thoroughbred nutrition. Activities include a contest in which Junior Jockey Club members are blindfolded and asked to identify different types of horse food through touch and smell.
Jockey Curt Bourque enjoyed a riding double on Friday at Arlington Park, winning the sixth race on Sauganash Stable's Liberation for trainer Jere R. Smith Sr. and the finale on Virginia Tarra Trust's Lady Dealer for conditioner Gene Cilio. The latter win moved Cilio into second position by himself in the Arlington trainer standings after sharing that spot with Chris Block and Christine Janks the previous day.
Jockey Shane Laviolette also rode two winners on Friday's program, winning the opener on Barry Schumer's High Diva for trainer Paul McGee and the fifth aboard Louis Clarizio III's Jay'n Jeff for conditioner Tommy Tomillo.
Trainer Tony Granitz, who saddled four winners from five starters during a week that included winning three photo finishes, will bypass Monday's Grade III Pennsylvania Derby with Pacella, Schwed and Rizza's Wiggins, and point that Illinois Champion 2-year-old of last season to the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Derby on Sept. 13 at that Iowa oval.
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