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|Arlington Park Barn Notes (5/10/04)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
Arlington Park is set to get off to a fast start Friday when the 2004 season kicks off with a feature race for 3-year-olds that is named in honor of one of the fastest horses in Thoroughbred racing history.
Among those considered likely for Friday's $38,000 Shecky Greene Handicap, a six furlong sprint that recognizes the Lou Goldfine-trained sprinter named after the noted late comedian are Stonerside Stable LLC's Danieltown, Pin Oak Stable LLC's Intrinsic Worth, Jaguar on The Run Stable's Jaguar Friend, Plaine Enterprises Inc. & Wayne Bessler's Marley's Revenge, and Dare to Dream Stable LLC's Wall Street Afleet.
Danieltown, who may be the starting highweight at 117 pounds, comes up to the Shecky Greene off a front-running length and three-quarters victory in Prairie Meadows' Golden Circle Stakes April 17. The Steve Flint trainee is to be ridden by Rene Douglas, Arlington's defending jockey champion of the last three seasons.
Marley's Revenge, trained by Dale Bennett, has been assigned 116 pounds by Arlington racing secretary Frank Gabriel Jr. for the Shecky Greene, and was most recently fourth in Hawthorne's $100,000 Lost Code Breeders' Cup April 3. The Concorde's Tune gelding had won Turfway's $50,000 Hansel Stakes March 20.
Intrinsic Worth, trained by Mike Stidham with 115 pounds assigned, has won his last two: breaking out of "non-winners of one other than" company at the Fair Grounds Feb. 2 and graduating from the next condition at Keeneland April 2.
Jaguar Friend, conditioned by Bobby Springer and also with 115 pounds, was only beaten a head when second in Hawthorne's $100,000 Land of Lincoln Stakes in his last start April 10 after scoring in state-bred allowance company March 7.
Wall Street Afleet, saddled by Rebecca Maker, broke his maiden April 21 in his fifth career start.
Jockey Rene Douglas, winner of the last three riding titles at Arlington Park, arrived in Chicagoland Sunday night and is looking forward to the chance to capture an unprecedented fourth straight title at the upcoming meeting which opens Friday and will run through Sept. 19.
"I can't wait to get started," said Douglas Monday morning. "Arlington has become like a second home to me over the last three years and I'm happy to be back. After the Gulfstream season this winter, I took a little time off to be with my family and now I'm fresh and ready to go. As soon as the school year is over in South Florida, my family will come up and join me. They like Chicago and Arlington as much as I do and are looking forward to joining me.
"Kids are the future," Douglas said, "and one of the reasons my family and I enjoy Arlington is because you see so many kids there. They are so enthusiastic about horseracing. Their enthusiasm gives me extra energy when I hear them cheering for me."
With three straight riding titles from 2001 to 2003, Douglas has joined Hall of Fame jockeys Steve Brooks and Bill Hartack as the only jockeys to accomplish that feat. Brooks earned three straight Arlington Park titles from 1947 to 1949 while Hartack captured his three straight Arlington riding championships from 1955 to 1957.
"Every year at Arlington, I've been able to do something there I've never done before," said Douglas. "Maybe this year I can become the first jockey to win four straight Arlington Park riding titles."
Another of Douglas's goals, as yet unaccomplished, is to win an Arlington Million, the centerpiece of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season that will be run this summer Aug. 14.
"I had a chance to win it last year (aboard Kaieteur, who eventually was adjudged the second-place finisher in a dead-heat with Paolini), but then Gary Stevens fell in front of me and I had to do everything I could to avoid running over him. I was glad I was able to do that, so I consider the race a success. Someone's life is far more important than winning a race, no matter how big a race it is. I'm so thankful I was able to avoid running over Gary. I believe in God and I always know that it could have been me in that position.
"Two years ago, I thought I was going to win the Million with Falcon Flight," Douglas said, "but I had to take up sharply in the late stages and lost all chance.
"Maybe I'll get my chance to win the Million this year," Douglas concluded. "That race has been my dream race to win since I started riding. Somehow, it just got into my life because of all the international competition involved. One of the first big races I ever won was the Washington D. C. International aboard Caltech in 1989 and a win in the Arlington Million would be the ultimate for me."
Racing fans are reminded that post time for the first race this Friday on Opening Day will be 3 p.m. with the first Miller Lite Party In The Park featuring a remote by WCKG-FM personality Steve Dahl and live music by Voices.
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