Chicago Barn to Wire

SPORTSMAN'S NOTES

Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

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

Monday, March 25, 2002

MC MAHON HAD A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE

While Mc Mahon, who earned a front-stepping victory in Sunday's $104,450 Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, may have benefited from a track that was favoring speed, his connections say that he had a little help from above.

"My uncle Augie died (last) Tuesday," said Nate Ruffolo, whose Cherrywood Stable co-owns Mc Mahon with trainer Michele Boyce. "The wake was Friday and the funeral was Saturday. He was a horseplayer. I had my son (David) come to the track Saturday morning and pick up Sunday's program because I wanted a Ruffolo horse in the program. I made a little note on the program and we put it in his casket. So he was up there watching us.

"My dad, Frank, is at the same cemetery," he continued. "He got me started with horses and he was a horseplayer. He even died at the track. He had a heart attack one day after the last race and didn't even make it to the hospital. After my uncle's funeral, I went and saw my father and told him about 'Mac's' race, so we had all kinds of help."

Boyce said the horse was feeling fine the morning after his biggest victory to date and would be pointed toward either the Grade III $200,000 National Jockey Club Handicap, a mile and an eighth race to be run here on April 20, or the $100,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Handicap in Nebraska one week later.

"We'll see what the weights are and who is coming for the NJC before making a decision," Boyce said.

Last year, Boyce and Ruffolo won the Fonner Park race with Rocky Robyn.

WEIGHTS OUT FOR ILLINOIS CHAMPIONS DAY RACES

Off his strong second-place finish in Sunday's Sportsman's Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, Richard E. Trebat's Chicago Six has been assigned 127 pounds for the $100,000 Milwaukee Avenue Handicap, one of six stakes races that comprise the major portion of Saturday's Illinois Champions Day program.

The 127-pound impost is three more pounds than he carried when winning last year's running of the race and one pound more than he carried to victory in the $75,000 Illinois Coronet Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course last November.

If he starts, he will spot his potential rivals nine to 21 pounds. Eyebrow Raiser, who finished a well-beaten sixth in Sunday's headliner, is next on the weights at 118 pounds.

Defending champion Faccia Bella has been asked to shoulder highweight of 119 pounds, one pound more than Capitol View, for Saturday's $100,000 Peach Of It Handicap. Shemya has been assigned 117 pounds while Puny, who won the Governor's Lady last year, is listed at 116 pounds.

Tic N Tin, the only horse to win a stakes race at each of Illinois' four thoroughbred racetracks last year, has been assigned top weight of 121 pounds for Saturday's $100,000 Chicagoland Handicap. Magic Doe, a former Illinois champion, is next on the list with 120 pounds while Classic Appeal, the race's defending champion, will carry 119 pounds.

The cross-nominated Capitol View received high impost of 121 pounds for Saturday's $100,000 Governor's Lady Handicap, three pounds more than Lil Bobbie Too and four more than Come September.

EARLY LOOK AT ILLINOIS DERBY PROBABLES

Select Stable's Repent, winner of three consecutive graded stakes races after finishing second in last year's Grade I Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park, highlights a list of nine likely starters for the Grade II $500,000 Illinois Derby, the centerpiece of the Sportsman's Park season which will be run for the 45th time on Saturday, April 6.

The Kenneth McPeek-trained son of Louis Quatorze won the Grade II Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds by a nose in his last start. Previously, Repent captured the Grade III Risen Star Stakes in his 3-year-old debut at the New Orleans oval and before that he closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a score in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.

The Churchill and Fair Grounds victories have set up Repent's connections to earn two separate $1 million bonuses if the horse can win Kentucky Derby. A victory in the Illinois Derby would set Repent up for another $1 million bonus if he could win any of the Visa Triple Crown races.

Others listed as likely for the Illinois Derby are: Pin Oak Stable's Changeintheweather, winner of the Grade I Grey Breeders' Cup at Woodbine as a 2-year-old; Guy & Diane Snowden's Peekskill, third in the Grade I Florida Derby last time out; Mercedes Stable's Publication, victor in the Grade II Arlington-Washington Futurity last September; and Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc.'s War Emblem, who captured the Illinois Derby prep race in his last start.

Also, Rick Englander's Boston Common, third in the local Illinois Derby prep; Italo-Erin Stable's One Tuff Fox, victor of an allowance race at the Fair Grounds in his last start; Stiritz & Zander's Robin Zee, who took a second-level allowance race here on March 11; and Mancari & Triffler's Secret Command.

Listed as possible starters are: Abruzzo & Thiriot's U S S Tinosa, second in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 17; and Craig & Halo Farms' Yougottawanna, winner of the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in his last start.

HANDICAPPING CONTEST WINNERS

Tim Watson went a perfect six-for-six to nail down the $3,000 top prize in the March $5,000 Sportsman's Park Handicapping Contest with a $111.10 bankroll based on mythical $2 across-the-board wagers. Pedro Agosto finished second in the contest with a bankroll of $76.20 while Kevin Kerns was third with a bankroll of $74.10.

CHI TOWN CHALLENGE UPDATE

Only three people were eliminated Sunday from the Chi Town Challenge, leaving 18 players left for a chance at winning a $5,000 betting voucher. The contestant known as Kelso47 picked another winner Sunday to be a perfect 13-for-13. A $2 win parlay based on on-track payoffs on his 13 correct selections would be worth in excess of $1 million, though obviously the last few bets would have skewed his win odds downward.

SUNDAY DOUBLES

Trainer Julian Canet broke out of his seconditis with a pair of victories on Sunday, capturing the opener with D J K Storm and the seventh race with Forever Regal. Jeremy Beasley was aboard for both scores. Incidentally, both horses were claimed away from Canet.

Pam Little also earned a training double, scoring with Swamp Monkey in the second race and Grey Cart in the sixth.

Also earning doubles on the card were jockeys Alfredo Juarez Jr. and Randall Meier.

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