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Barn Notes: Thurs., Sept. 1
In Today's Notes: Hoosier Kingdom Returns to Arlington for Washington Park 'Cap; Nine 'Live' Mounts for Trainer Charlie Livesay This Season
HOOSIER KINGDOM RETURNS TO ARLINGTON FOR WASHINGTON PARK 'CAP
Two years ago, trainer Ron Herrell brought his horse Hoosier Kingdom – who he co-owns along with partners Dr. Keith Wexler and Brian Reed – to Arlington for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes. The Indiana-bred made the pace, still had the lead at the quarter pole but then quickly dropped out of contention to finish last in the 10-horse field.
"I liked the way Dr. Wexler described the way he felt about the way our horse ran right after the race," Herrell said shortly after the 2009 Secretariat. "He said: 'We just enjoyed 140 seconds of heaven and 25 seconds of hell.'
"However, I've said all along that the whole idea of running this horse was a way for all of our families to enjoy themselves at the races," Herrell concluded at the time, "and let me tell you, spending the day with your family at the races on Arlington Million Day is priceless."
This Saturday, Herrell, his partners, their families and Hoosier Kingdom will be back at Arlington to run in the 77th renewal of the Grade III Washington Park Handicap.
"We're all still back home in Indiana," Herrell said Thursday morning, speaking by phone from Hoosier Park. "We'll all be coming down along with the horse tomorrow (Friday) morning. We're ready to roll.
"He's never run on Polytrack before," said Herrell, "but they tell me it's a lot like turf so we're hoping that's the way it plays for us."
Actually, Hoosier Kingdom does have one race over synthetic going on his record when he finished sixth in the $75,000 OBS Sprint at the Ocala Training Center in February of 2009, but Herrell discounted that run.
"I'd forgotten all about that," the trainer admitted, "but I don't think that one should count. He was green as a gourd back then."
In his most recent trip to the post, Hoosier Kingdom finished ninth in an allowance race at Hoosier Park on Aug. 4, but Herrell said his horse has never run well over that surface. "He ran right through his rundown bandages that day," the trainer explained.
However, in his start before that in the $84,000 A. J. Foyt Stakes at Indiana Downs, Hoosier Kingdom was always well placed and got through along the inside to win the 1 1/16-mile grass test by a half length.
"That was a good race for him," said Herrell of the A. J. Foyt. "He's going to have to step it up a little to win this race on Saturday, but we feel he's capable of doing that."
NINE 'LIVE' MOUNTS FOR TRAINER CHARLIE LIVESAY THIS SEASON
It's time to give a "shout out" to trainer Charlie Livesay, who is in the midst of a very successful season at Arlington Park this summer.
Last Saturday, the Livesay-trained Striver, owned by Flying I Ranch and Millard L. Seidin Revocable Trust, found running room in the late stages of the seventh race of the afternoon and drew off late for a 2 1/2-length tally under jockey Julio Felix.
The homebred sophomore lit up the tote board with a $129 win mutuel – registering the third highest straight price of Arlington's 2011 season.
It also put a garnish on Livesay's Arlington season, giving him nine wins already through an Arlington session that still has 19 racing days remaining before bringing down the curtain for 2011 on Sept. 25.
Last year, Livesay posed in the winner's circle locally only once, and that was when Millard R. Seldin Revocable Trust and the Estate of Hoss Inman's Cherokee Lord broke his maiden on April 30, 2010.
Cherokee Lord went on to run a very creditable fourth in the 2010 Grade I Secretariat Stakes, finished fourth again in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby last fall and has accounted for two of Livesay's nine wins this season.
Like Hall of Fame trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert, Livesay, 77, who was born in southwest Kansas but raised in Colorado, began his career as a horseman with Quarter Horses.
However, before he began his career as a horseman, Livesay was a jockey, beginning that career as a 7-year-old and concluding it at the ripe old age of 14.
"I got to be 140 pounds at 14 so I had to quit," Livesay explained. "Still, I did win my last race riding a Quarter Horse going 220 yards."