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Barn Notes: Thurs. June 23
J. R. Smith Jr. Saddles Highest Priced Winner of Arlington Season;Prairie State Festival ‘Big Event’ Chat Friday Evening; Jockey Perez, Trainer Bennett Combine for Wednesday Double; Festival’s All-Time Leading Rider Razo Wins Two Wednesday
J. R. SMITH JR. SADDLES HIGHEST PRICED WINNER OF ARLINGTON SEASON
He may always be known as the son of the late legendary horseman Jere Smith, Sr., but trainer Jere Smith, Jr. made boldfaced headlines of his own Wednesday by saddling a 4-year-old colt named In All Directions to return a straight payoff of $155.20 – highest win price of the 2011 Arlington Park season.
Owned by Michael and Shannan Meehan and Byington Stables, In All Directions came under the care of the younger Smith June 2, and after being far back early, the son of Argentine stallion Seattle Fitz came charging down the stretch under a well-judged ride by Francisco Giles to prove 2 1/2-lengths the best at the wire.
“I thought he’d go off at 30-1 or so,” said Smith Thursday morning during training hours, “but I knew he’d run better than a 30-1 horse. In fact, I told several people to bet on him and they did, but I never thought he’d be the biggest win price of the season. All I did was to make a few changes in his training after he came into my barn.”
Jere Smith Jr. is now 49 years old and has been training on his own for 30 years, and past highlights in his own career include saddling Panic Stable’s Boundlessly to win the 1993 Arlington Classic after finishing as the runner-up in the Arlington-Washington Futurity the previous fall. He is also known for winning four races in one day at Arlington and has saddled more than 800 winners in his career.
However, he left the United States to train in Saudi Arabia for King Abdullah & Sons Stable for more than five years and gradually fell off the public radar at Arlington before returning to the local oval this season.
“I’ve got eight horses in my barn right now, but I’m looking forward to building up my stable as the season continues,” said Smith. “I’ve got two horses entered Friday and two more in Saturday, including (Power Ten Farm’s) At the Finish in the Isaac Murphy Handicap.
“She’s been working good for me (including a half-mile in 47.80 Tuesday),” Smith said of the homebred 6-year-old gray mare, “but she’s coming off a five-month layoff and I’m throwing her in against some heavy hitters. I hope she runs well, but I am a little concerned about the layoff.”
Incidentally, the possibility of remaining in his more famous father’s shadow probably does not bother the younger Smith at all. After all, J.R.Smith Sr. is a member of the Chicago Racing Hall of Fame and may one day have a plaque honoring him in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs.
“Dad was something else,” said Smith, speaking emotionally when remembering his father who died at 68 of pancreatic cancer in January of 2004 while ranked second on Arlington’s all-time leading trainer list. “I worked for him from 1976 to 1981 before going out on my own, and he taught me just about everything I know.”
PRAIRIE STATE FESTIVAL ‘BIG EVENT’ CHAT FRIDAY EVENING
Arlington guests and fans of Saturday’s 11th renewal of the Prairie State Festival at Arlington are reminded that morning line odds-maker Joe Kristufek will host a “Big Event” chat beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. that will preview the six Festival races.
Kristufek has made Team Block’s Shrewd Operator the 5-2 choice in the White Oak Handicap, Carson Spring Farm’s Cruise the 5-2 favorite in the Isaac Murphy Handicap, Last Call Racing Partnership’s Our Lady in Red 5-2 in the Purple Violet Stakes, Team Block’s Mavericking 5-2 in the Springfield Stakes, Dundalk 5’s Dundalk Dust 7-5 in the Lincoln Heritage Handicap and Cherrywood Racing II and Terry Biondo’s Princeville Condo the slight 3-1 choice in the Black Tie Affair Handicap.
JOCKEY PEREZ, TRAINER BENNETT COMBINE FOR WEDNESDAY DOUBLE
Jockey Eddie Perez and trainer Dale Bennett combined their talents to post a pair of victories Wednesday at Arlington.
The jockey-trainer tandem took down winning honors in the third with Dyedra Kademoglu’s Golden Baby Nadine and came back to the winner’s circle after the sixth with Peter Karahalios’ Quick Delivery.
FESTIVAL’S ALL-TIME LEADING RIDER RAZO WINS TWO WEDNESDAY
Veteran Arlington Park jockey Eddie Razo, the Prairie State Festival’s all-time leading jockey with nine wins during previous renewals of the six-race series, tuned up for the 12th running of the Festival on Saturday with two wins on Wednesday’s program.
Razo won the eighth on Mark Meyer’s Santamonicacanyon for conditioner Jeff Lynn and came right back to the winner’s circle after the ninth aboard Robert Zoellner’s Barraaq for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel.