Chicago Barn to Wire

SPORTSMAN'S NOTES

Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

Contact: David Zenner (773) 242-1121 ext. 310
sportsmanspub@aol.com

Sunday, March 10, 2002

SPORTSMAN'S BC NEXT FOR SECRET ROMEO

Trainer Gerald Bennett said Sunday morning that Secret Romeo, winner of Saturday's $100,000 Lost Code Handicap, is in fine fettle after his -length score and that the son of Carson City is likely to make a return appearance at this meet.

"He licked up the bottom of the feed bucket -- not a drop left in it," said the Canadian-born conditioner who is campaigning a string at Sportsman's Park for the first time in 2002. "We're looking at that race for him on March 24, the Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup at a mile."

Bennett, who also has horses at Tampa Bay Downs under the tutelage of his wife Mary, has enjoyed considerable success here over the last two seasons when shipping in.

"I was shipping from Cleveland -- 7 hours up and 7 hours back," he said. "This (being stabled here) is much better."

Bennett certainly knows his way around Sportsman's Park these days, but that wasn't always the case, as jockey agent Tom Morgan explains. "One night a couple of years ago, he calls me because he's shipping Touch of Power to run here and I gave him directions. He calls me a few hours later and tells me he thinks that he is lost. I asked him where he is now and he says that he sees a sign that says Wrigley Field."

"It turns out the exit I needed (to the Stevenson from the Ryan) was closed off so I kept going north," Bennett added.

HOUGHTON MAKES MOST OF DAY TRIP TO WINDY CITY

Jockey Terry Houghton, who guided Secret Romeo to victory in the Lost Code, made the most of his sojourn to Chicago, winning two races on the card for Bennett. In addition to the Lost Code aboard Secret Romeo, Houghton tallied earlier in the program astride Touch of Power in the secondary featured sixth race, a $42,000 allowance race at one mile.

One thing Houghton hadn't bargained for was the extreme cold that hit the area suddenly Saturday afternoon.

"I didn't get the weather report until I was on the plane," said the 32-year-old reinsman. "I was told that it was going to be 58 degrees and pretty nice, so I really wasn't prepared for (bad weather). Good thing I had good horses (to ride) and the two horses that won ran big."

Could Saturday's local appearance be a harbinger of things to come for Houghton, who winters at Tampa Bay Downs and rides the rest of the year at Great Lakes Downs in Muskgeon, Mich.?

"It might be pretty soon the way racing is going in Michigan," he said. "If they don't get something soon, I don't see them making it much longer. They have to get either slot machines or some kind of off-track or phone betting. We don't have any crowds there, and the people don't gamble there. It's too far away from the big cities."

TWO STAKES, TWO THIRDS FOR ROBERTSON

Trainer Hugh Robertson was represented in two stakes races run approximately 30 minutes apart and his runners finished third in both races -- Bet On Joe in the Lost Code and Sarah Jade in the Honeybee Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Robertson said both were doing well Sunday morning.

"He rated nice," Robertson said of Bet On Joe. "We couldn't get him to rate down there at the Fair Grounds but he rated good for Zoe (jockey Cadman) Saturday. I was happy with his race.

"She got away bad," he said of Sarah Jade, who broke in the air according to the Equibase chart of the race. "The horse next to her charged the gate and she was watching her. She got beat a nose for second. We might bring her up here (for the April 20 $100,000 National Jockey Club Oaks). She ran back in 13 days and that might have hurt her a little bit. She could use a little time. The NJC Oaks would work out about right. That would give her six weeks."

FOUR WINS FOR JUAREZ

Jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. posted the best performance of the young meet when he booted home four winners on Saturday's card. The Mexican-born rider scored with My First Roan in the second race, Osprey in the third, Work Hard in the fourth and Storm Bug in the ninth race.

The four bagger boosted his meet total to five, one behind leader Randall Meier.

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