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Barn Notes: Thursday, August 02, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/02/2012 #

In Today's Notes: Jockey Brandon Meier Ready for Return to Riding Friday; Hall of Fame Jockey Earlie Fires Preparing for Retired Riders' Race; Arlington's Eighth Race Saturday to Benefit 'Galloping Out'

JOCKEY BRANDON MEIER READY FOR RETURN TO RIDING FRIDAY
Jockey Brandon Meier, who broke his collarbone in a spill at Arlington May 12, returns to riding Friday and is scheduled for two mounts during the afternoon.

"I've been getting on horses in the morning for about two weeks now and (trainer Wayne) Catalano named me on a couple for (Friday)," Meier said Thursday morning shortly after training hours. "I feel super – absolutely great.

"I got hurt on a Saturday and I had surgery the following Tuesday," Meier said. "I started physical therapy as soon as I could and have been coming along really great the last couple of weeks. My doctor cleared me to get back riding the other day and I'm really looking forward to it. I've really missed being out here."

Meier is named aboard Darrell and Evelyn Yates' Sea Lion in Friday's third race and returns in Friday's seventh on Polivka Equine Holdings and Room I Corporation's Sing It Out. The former has been installed as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite in the field while the latter is pegged at 8-1.

As the son of longtime Chicago reinsman Randy Meier, Brandon was born in nearby Elk Grove Village, Illinois. He turned 24 on July 9 while still undergoing physical therapy. He began working for Catalano in 2007 and became an exercise rider later that summer.

On May 11, 2008, Meier won with the first live mount of his apprentice career despite getting banged in the face by his mount in the starting gate. Subsequently, he was named Arlington's Rising Star at the end of the 2008 summer session.

Meier scored his first Arlington stakes victory aboard Asiel Stable's Heavenly Lass for trainer Rusty Hellman in the 2010 Purple Violet on Prairie State Festival Day.

Although often hampered by injuries in his brief career, Meier has recorded 253 wins from 2,220 mounts and amassed career earnings of $4,937,587.

HALL OF FAME JOCKEY FIRES PREPARING FOR RETIRED RIDERS' RACE
Arlington's all-time leading jockey Earlie Fires, inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga in 2001, retired as an active rider at Arlington on Sept. 21, 2008, but he began galloping horses Wednesday to prepare for Arlington's upcoming race matching active riders against retired riders.

The race is scheduled one day before the 30th anniversary edition of the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 18.

"I galloped one horse for Wayne Catalano yesterday and galloped another one for him today," said Fires, speaking on the Arlington apron during training hours Thursday morning. "I felt pretty good out there. I'll be ready for that race by the time it gets here."

Fires, 65, retired with 6,470 career wins with 2,886 of those coming at Arlington. The Arkansas native won riding titles at Arlington in 1966, '69, '75, '79, '83 and '84.

In 1991, Fires was voted the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, given to a jockey who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct on and off the track.

"The last time I rode in a race was during last year's retired riders' race right here at Arlington," Fires said. "The only time I've been on a horse since then until yesterday was during a pony trail ride a couple of months ago back in Arkansas."

ARLINGTON'S EIGHTH RACE SATURDAY TO BENEFIT 'GALLOPING OUT'
In addition to two $65,000 stakes for 2-year-olds at Arlington Saturday, there will be a specially designated race on the card to benefit the Galloping Out Foundation for the rescue and care of retired Thoroughbred race horses. As a result, there will be a 12-race program for the day at the northwestern suburban Chicago oval.

Arlington will donate the purse money and commissions earned on Saturday's eighth race to the Galloping Out Foundation, a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization to provide for the care of retired Thoroughbred race horses which was founded in 2010 as a cooperative effort between the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Chicagoland Thoroughbred race courses.