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Barn Notes: Thurs., August 11 - AM Edition
In Today's Notes: International Festival Horses Out In Force Thursday MorningFormer Rider Patti Cooksey Back for Friday's Jockey Challenge'Breakfast at Arlington' Returns Friday Morning
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL HORSES OUT IN FORCE THURSDAY MORNING
Horses for Saturday's 29th running of the Arlington Million, 21st renewal of the $750,000 Beverly D. and 35th edition of the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes went through tune-ups of varying intensity Thursday morning during training hours at Chicago's suburban oval.
Most impressive among them was the South African-bred Beverly D. runner River Jetez, owned by Barbara and Cedrick Amm and Marsh Shirtliff, who appeared on the turf course shortly after 8 a.m. under Trevor Brown, went five furlongs in 51 flat and got the last eighth in 12 seconds. The ground was listed as "yielding" and the "dogs" were well out from the rail.
"She looked to me like the best one out there today," said Arlington Park clocker Bobby Belpedio. "She was all business and seemed to know exactly what she was doing."
The Beverly D. is restricted to fillies and mares and has become known as the Arlington Million's sister race since its inception. Along with the Secretariat Stakes, the trio of Saturday's International Festival of turf races are the only three Grade I events run in Illinois each year.
Mark Hawtin's Irish-bred Wigmore Hall, who will run in Saturday's Arlington Million and is familiar to American racing fans for finishing second in last summer's Secretariat Stakes, went five furlongs over the local lawn in 54.80 with exercise rider Gillian Dolman astride.
Naipaul and Terikchand Chatterpaul's Mission Approved, third choice in the morning line for the Million and the winner of the Grade I Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day June 11, went for a gallop on the grass Thursday morning.
Castleton Lyons' Gio Ponti, winner of the 2009 Arlington Million, runner-up last year and in a position to become the first two-time Million winner on Saturday, went out on the Polytrack Thursday morning, backed up to the starting gate and then stood in the gate for several minutes.
French-bred Zack Hall, owned by Matthieu Offenstadt, Sylvain Fargeon, Patrick Offenstadt and Mikel Delzangles, breezed three furlongs on the Polytrack in 40.80. Zack Hall will be making his first start outside of France in Saturday's Arlington Million.
Michael Deegan's Pachattack, sixth in last summer's Beverly D. despite dwelling at the start and winner of this summer's Grade III Arlington Matron over the Polytrack, cantered on the grass Thursday morning prior to Saturday's Beverly D. with jockey Florent Geroux in the irons.
FORMER RIDER PATTI COOKSEY BACK FOR FRIDAY'S JOCKEY CHALLENGE
Patti Cooksey, the first female jockey to win 2,000 races, the first female jockey to ride in the Preakness (in 1984) and at one time the leading female jockey of all time, will return to riding briefly for the second straight year to accept a mount in Friday's Jockey Challenge at Arlington – one day prior to the 29th running of the Grade I Arlington Million.
The Jockey Challenge race, now in its second year, will be part of Friday's third "Dining with the Dynasty" program during Arlington Million week, and will feature five legendary retired riders against the top five jockeys in Arlington's current standings.
Cooksey, who retired with 2,137 career wins, has been director of public relations for the Kentucky Racing Commission since September of 2005. She most recently rode competitively last spring in an exhibition race at Pimlico during Preakness week and also rode in Arlington's Jockey Challenge race last summer.
"My horse kept up for a little ways," Cooksey recalled of her mount last summer at Arlington. "He was running underneath me. He just wasn't running fast enough."
While in Baltimore last spring for Preakness week, Cooksey met Great Britain's top female rider Hayley Turner, who will be coming to Chicago to ride Mark Hawtin's Irish-bred Wigmore Hall in Saturday's Arlington Million.
"These girls these days are really making a mark for themselves," Cooksey said. "She's pretty, she's smart, she's a good rider and she has a nice personality."
Cooksey, who also became only the second woman to rider in a Kentucky Derby in 1984, still holds down the top spot as Churchill Downs' all time leading female rider with 213 career victories at the Twin Spires oval.
'BREAKFAST AT ARLINGTON' RETURNS FRIDAY MORNING
Thoroughbred racing fans throughout the world who are in Chicago for Saturday's International Festival of Racing are reminded that the Arlington Park will host an internationally flavored "Breakfast at Arlington" program Friday morning from 7:30-9:30, featuring interviews with top racing celebrities while also allowing fans to watch morning training exercises.