Chicago Barn to Wire


Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

Contact: David Zenner (773) 242-1121 ext. 310

Saturday, March 16, 2002


Graded stakes winner Associate, unraced since running third in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park 13 months ago, may return to action in next Sunday's $100,000 Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup Handicap at one mile.

"He fractured a sesamoid and we had to operate on his ankle," explained Bob Irwin, who trains the son of Shotiche for owner James W. Orr Jr. "We laid him up for six months and I brought him back to the track last August. I didn't rush with him and he really didn't get into serious training until recently."

Irwin had planned to bring him back last weekend, in a money allowance/optional claiming race last Saturday that would have served as a prep for the Sportsman's BC but he scratched the now 7-year-old gelding when the track came up sloppy. Despite not being able to get a prep under his horse and Associate not being Breeders' Cup eligible, Irwin still plans to take a shot at Sunday's headliner.

"I think we're still going to run him in the race," said the veteran conditioner. "He's 100 per cent now. He's doing great. The Sportsman's Breeders' Cup will be a tough test for him, going a mile the first time out. It's a tough spot."

If all goes well for Associate, Irwin plans to take him to Keeneland for a grass race there and point him toward a summer-long turf campaign.

"That's the game plan," he acknowledged, "but he runs all right on the dirt, too. We're hoping we can keep him together and have a great season with him."

With seven victories from 23 starts including a score in the Grade II Appleton Handicap at Gulfstream in 2001, Associate has earned $280,554.


Through Friday's races, 129 contestants from the original field of 1,736 remain in the $5,000 Chi Town Challenge with four players going a perfect six-for-six in victories thus far. To remain in the Chi Town Challenge, a player must have his daily selection finish either first, second or third.


Racing secretary Allan Plever and stakes coordinator Christian Polzin released a list of 17 older horses nominated to the March 24 Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, a one-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward carrying a purse of $100,000 ($50,000 added from Sportsman's Park plus $50,000 from the Breeders' Cup fund for eligible horses).

Prominent on the list is defending champion Chicago Six, who could make his seasonal bow in this race or in the $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap six days later. Last year, the Jere R. Smith Sr. won both races, which were held one week apart. The son of Wild Again breezed six furlongs in 1:13.80 Saturday morning.

Trainer Gerald Bennett previously said that Lost Code Handicap hero Secret Romeo would be pointed toward the Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup.

Others on the list with an eye toward starting in the race include Barr H. Inman's Apalachee Special, second in a March 9 allowance race here; Howard E. Nelson's Eyebrow Raiser, winner of three of his last four starts including two straight allowance races at Oaklawn Park; Boyce & Cherrywood Stable's McMahon, winner of a second-level allowance race at Hawthorne in December and fourth in a three-other-than at Santa Anita in February; and Centaur Farms, Inc.'s Valid Prime, a recent Fair Grounds allowance race victor.

Trainer Niall O'Callaghan has three nominated to the Sportsman's BC -- Voss & Grimm's Frazee's Folly, Tim Bulwer-Long's Generous Rosi and Peter Crane's Hail The Chief. Of this trio, he is likely to start either Generous Rosi or Hail The Chief. The former, by Generous, won the Grade III Turfway Park Fall Championship last September and later ran a well-beaten second to Aptitude in the Grade I $1,000,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The latter, a Be My Chief horse, was a wire-to-wire victor in a Gulfstream Park allowance race last month.

Weights for the Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup will be announced Monday with entries slated to be taken on Thursday.


Sportsman's Park has petitioned the Illinois Racing Board to race on three Thursdays in April (11, 18 and 25) to make up for the three programs lost to inclement weather during the meet's first week. The Board will rule on the request at its next meeting, Tuesday, April 9.


Longtime trainer-jockey combination Richard Hazelton and Carlos Silva combined for three wins on Friday's card scoring in the third race with Indian Hula, the seventh with Haunted Forest and the eighth with Cauy.




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