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Barn Notes: Sunday, May 11, 2014

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/11/2014 #
  • Larry Rivelli

In Today’s Notes:  Rivelli with Solid Start to Arlington Season; First 2-Year-Old Race of Season Sunday; The Pizza Man Works on Arlington Grass toward 2014 Debut; ‘Kaner’ Looking to Score Sunday

RIVELLI WITH SOLID START TO ARLINGTON SEASON
Trainer Larry Rivelli is off to a solid start to the 2014 Arlington International season with seven victories from 12 starters – good for a 58% strike rate and an impressive 83% in-the-money to lead all trainers.  Rivelli’s uncle Jimmy DiVito is second with four victories from 12 starters.  Ten-time and defending champion Wayne Catalano has only started four horses so far in 2014, but has scored with half of those.

While Rivelli has done an admirable job of spreading around the wealth of his stable to different jockeys, as journeymen Tim Thornton and Sheldon Russell each have a victory for the conditioner, it is E. T. Baird who has landed three victories from four Rivelli mounts (and a third-place in the other).

Baird is also off to an auspicious start to his meet.  The Arlington mainstay and one of the best gate riders in the country is tied with newcomer Russell for the lead with six victories each.  While Sheldon has scored such from 21 starters, Baird has done so with only 13 – good for a phenomenal 46% strike rate.  Defending meet champion Emmanuel Esquivel currently is one win behind in third, but leads all riders in purses. 

FIRST 2-YEAR-OLD RACE OF SEASON TODAY
The Arlington International Racecourse babies are off to an early start in 2014, with the first 2-year-old race slated for this afternoon at the Chicagoland oval.  Going 4½ furlongs with a healthy $36,000 purse, the maiden special weight features two Keeneland ship-ins from the eternally precocious Wesley Ward barn, as well as a starter each from leading local conditioner Larry Rivelli and the expansive barn of Mike Maker.         
Owned by Michael Tabor – part of the international powerhouse ownership group Coolmore – Circle the World breaks from the rail and should go off as the favorite.  By Tabor’s swift multiple Grade I-placed sprinter/miler Munnings, Circle the World is a granddaughter of Circle of Life, who won the Grade I Spinaway Stakes as a juvenile for the same owner.  A February foal, she will be making her second start after finishing second in her debut on at Keeneland April 17. 

Circle of Life’s main competition may come Field Houghlin and Skychai Racing’s H’s Cat, a son of dynamite miler Discreet Cat who was purchased in March from the Ocala sale for $65,000.  Discreet Cat, whose past juvenile stock includes last year’s Grade I Chandelier Stakes winner Secret Compass, apparently has infused some pace into the March foal, as the bay has thrown two consecutive bullets for trainer Mike Maker at Trackside Churchill Downs, including an April 27 gate move in :48.80.

THE PIZZA MAN WORKS ON ARLINGTON GRASS TOWARD 2014 DEBUT
Midwest Thoroughbred’s The Pizza Man was one of only two horses allowed to work on the grass course Sunday morning at Arlington International Racecourse.  Running with the dogs considerably wide, the 2012 Illinois Champion 3-Year-Old went five furlongs in a leisurely 1:06 for trainer Roger Brueggemann. 

Also the 2013 Illinois Reserve Champion Turf Colt/Gelding, the son of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner English Channel was recording his second move of the year, following a four-furlong move on April 18 in :49.00 at Hawthorne Race Course.  Possibly on the 5-year-old gelding’s radar could be a return to the Black Tie Affair Handicap – an Illinois-restricted stakes on June 21 in which the homebred finished a solid second to Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Coalport in 2013.  Coalport, under the tutelage of Wayne Catalano, would go on to be crowned Illinois Champion Turf Colt/Gelding.

A winner of five of eight Arlington starts, The Pizza Man was last seen at the Chicagoland oval winning the restricted Illinois Owners Stakes on Sept. 21 by a neck before closing out his year with a victory in the open Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne on Oct. 12 – his fourth career stakes victory.

The other worker on the grass Sunday morning was Lothenbach Stable’s Ry’s the Man, a talented sophomore gelding allowance horse from the Neil Pessin barn looking to make his fourth start of the season – and first at Arlington since his debut – soon.  Possibly on tap for the son of Officer may be a start in the Grade III Arlington Classic on May 24 – the first leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple.

‘KANER’ LOOKING TO SCORE ON SUNDAY
How fitting that the Craig Glander-owned Kaner – named for Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane – be entered to race on today’s Mother’s Day card only hours before “Kaner” the hockey player takes the ice at the United Center in tonight’s crucial Game 5 of the Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild playoff series which is tied at two games apiece.  After winning the first two games at home, the defending Stanley Cup champion Hawks have dropped the last two games to the Wild.  Trained by Patti Miller, the equine Kaner is looking for his first victory in the state-bred maiden special weight after three starts.