|Arlington Park Barn Notes 9/13/03
In today's notes:
Even people who don't know country music might know singing star Toby Keith from his long distance telephone commercials with the NFL's Terry Bradshaw.
But Keith is also a Thoroughbred horse owner who races in the nom-de-course of Dream Walkin Farms Inc., and it is in that capacity that he may come to Chicago for the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity on Arlington's 2003 season closing day Sept. 27.
The undefeated 2-year-old Cactus Ridge is owned by Keith's Dream Walkin Farms, and breezed six furlongs for trainer Bret Calhoun Saturday morning at Arlington Park with jockey Randy Meier aboard. Cactus Ridge accomplished the three-quarters of a mile in 1:15 2/5 after getting the half in :50 and five-eighths in 1:02 2/5. The Hennessy colt then galloped out seven-eighths in 1:29 4/5.
"Everything went well," said Calhoun of the Saturday morning breeze. "I was kind of hoping the track would get better but it kept raining and we decided to go ahead since the forecast wasn't that encouraging. As it turned out, we got exactly what we wanted from him in the work. Randy said he felt great under him."
Cactus Ridge, who won the $98,750 James C. Ellis Juvenile by six and a half lengths in Western Kentucky on Aug. 17, is now three-for-three in his career. Before that the youngster captured the $35,000 Canterbury Park Juvenile Stakes by 15 lengths July 12, after breaking his maiden at Arlington Park June 12.
"I would have to say to say he looks like he might be the best horse I've ever had," said Calhoun. "He's done everything so easily so far."
In his outings to date, Cactus Ridge raced on the front end, but Calhoun thinks he will get a longer distance such as the one-turn mile of the Arlington-Washington Futurity.
"He's not a speed freak," said Calhoun. "He's not rank when he runs, he's just outrun all his competition so far.
"We're optimistic that he'll get at least a mile and a sixteenth, but we'll know more as we go along," Calhoun said. "We feel pretty good about his getting a distance because on the bottom side, he has European breeding (out of the French-bred Lycius mare Double Park) that shows distance.
"When Cactus Ridge ran at Ellis Park, Toby Keith and his family all came down to the winner's circle," said Calhoun. "They were all there having a good time. I really don't know how I got the horse. A few month ago his people just called me."
Stonecrest Farm's Wudantunoit, a winner of his last two, may be the speed in Sunday's main event at Arlington Park, and may forget to stop.
The 5-year old grass specialist, owned and trained by the connections of 2003 Grade II Washington Park Handicap winner Perfect Drift, faces 11 rivals in Sunday's featured $45,000-added Golden Pheasant Stakes for 3-year-olds and upward that will be contested at one mile over Arlington Park's grass course. If the full field remains intact, the race will have a gross value of $48,600, with a $29,160 share of that sum going to the owners of the winner.
Wudantunoit comes to the Golden Pheasant off a speed sharpener at five and a half furlongs over the Ellis Park lawn Aug. 9, but before that, on June 18, the altered son of Dumaani was a five and a half-length victor at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie in a one-mile turf test.
Randy Meier rides the Murray Johnson-trained Wudantunoit, who is slated to carry 118 pounds in the Golden Pheasant.
Named to oppose the Kentucky-bred chestnut out of a Cozzene mare are River Ridge Ranch's Take Me Up, 122, Jason Eads up; Sterling Stud's Sterling Gold, 118, Joe Johnson; Team Victory Stable's Naraingang, 116, Frank Lovato Jr.; Millard R. Seldin Revocable Trust & Est. of Hoss Inman's Lacer, 116, Uriel Lopez; James M. Messineo's Major Rhythm, 116, Earlie Fires; and J. S. Cubed Stable's Holy Conflict, 116, Eddie Razo Jr.
Also, Darley's Ya Lajwaad, 114, Ray Sibille; Gainsborough Farm LLC's Sweet Band, 118, Brice Blanc; Coast To Coast Racing Fund LLC's Mercenary, 116, Shane Laviolette; Richard H. Glander's Generals Sword, 116, Chris Emigh; and John Castro's Al's Dearly Bred, 118, Rene Douglas.
The last named is the morning line choice in the Golden Pheasant after coming from off the pace to win the $40,000 John Bullitt Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth in Minnesota by two and a half lengths on Aug. 2.
After jockey Chris Emigh won Friday's third race at Arlington Park by a length and three-quarters aboard Justin & Stefanie Carroll's Journey Fever for trainer Harvey Vanier, he donated his share of the winner's purse to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.
"Í've got two kids of my own," Emigh said as he returned to the Arlington Park jockey's room following his victory, "and in my family we've been very lucky. It makes me feel great to win this race and be able to donate to a good cause like this."
Other members of the Arlington jockeys' colony also contributed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Friday, bringing the total of jockey's room contributions to $2,885.
Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington Park's all-time leading reinsman, scored his second successive riding double Friday, winning the fourth race aboard Fink, Harris, Raby, Schwan & WKB Stable's Rose of Savannah for trainer Emmagene K. Schwan, and the sixth astride the Dee Poulos-conditioned J & J Racing Inc.'s Rach Three.
Jockey Carlos H. Marquez Jr. rode a Friday "bookend" double, capturing Friday's opener with Narta & Stevenson's Valid Oaks for trainer Gary Delong and the finale on Post Time LLC's Favorite of Mine for conditioner Chris Block.
Jockey Curt Bourque also rode two winners Friday -- in back-to-back races -- taking the seventh with The Edward's Group's Tour Japan for conditioner Pam Little and the eighth with WinStar Farm LLC's Desert Dancer for trainer Elliott Walden.
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