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Barn Notes: Wednesday, Sept. 21

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/21/2011 #

In Today’s Notes:  Rivelli, Becker Continue Training Duel; ‘Cat’ Could Pounce; Junior Scores Riding Triple Sunday to Challenge in Jockey’s Race; Wigmore Hall, Never Retreat Win Sunday Stakes at Woodbine


RIVELLI, BECKER CONTINUE TRAINING DUEL; ‘CAT’ COULD POUNCE      
Arlington conditioners Larry Rivelli and Scott Becker continued their season-long battle for leading trainer honors Sunday, with Rivelli registering a training double and Becker saddling one winner to remain in close pursuit.

With four racing days left in Arlington’s 2011 racing season which comes to a close Sunday, Rivelli still leads with 38 wins, while Becker’s horses have reached the winner’s circle 35 times.  The always dangerous defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano has won 31 races and cannot be eliminated from consideration at this time.

On Sunday, Rivelli saddled Pirates Vow, owned in partnership with Mario Donato, to dead-heat for the win with George Ditola’s Live From Appollo, trained by Ingrid Mason in the third race of the afternoon, and then came back to pose in the winner’s circle with Rivrav, owned in partnership with Richard Ravin, after the fifth race of the day.

In a touching sporting gesture that attracted applause from the fans after the third race dead-heat, Rivelli and Mason posed their horses in the winner’s circle together and then high-fived each other after the photo had been taken.

Becker won Sunday’s fourth race with William Stiritz’s Magic Chapel to stay strongly in the hunt, but Catalano went winless on the program.

On Thursday, Rivelli has seven horses entered, with two of those in the ninth race of the day, but has no horses entered for Friday’s 11-race card.

Becker has only two horses entered Thursday, but comes back with three more chances on Friday.

Intriguingly, Catalano, who has been Arlington’s trainer champion for the last six seasons, has 10 horses entered over that same two-day period.

This Saturday’s and Sunday’s cards had not been drawn as of Wednesday morning.


JUNIOR SCORES RIDING TRIPLE SUNDAY TO CHALLENGE IN JOCKEY’S RACE
Jockey Junior Alvarado, who was Arlington’s leading rider in 2009 and runner-up last season, remained in contention for leading rider honors at the current session by riding three winners Sunday.

The 25-year old native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, rode George Ditola’s Live From Appollo to dead-heat for the win with Larry Rivelli and Marco Donato’s Pirates Vow in the third race Sunday, came right back to the winner’s circle after the fourth aboard William Stiritz’s Magic Chapel and then completed his hat trick astride Rodney Miller’s Magic Bullet after the sixth race of the afternoon.

Alvarado, who missed five weeks of Arlington’s 2011 season after suffering a broken collarbone in May, went over the 70-win mark Sunday, has 71 wins entering Thursday’s racing day and is named on eight horses that day and 10 more Friday.

Jockey J. Z. Santana, currently the runner-up in the jockey standings, remained in leading rider contention Sunday by visiting the winner’s circle after the seventh on Michael Bojarski, Auglyn Stable and Cherrywood Racing Stable’s Peso for trainer Michele Boyce.

Santana had 75 wins at the meeting at the end of Sunday’s races while current leading rider James Graham had 78.

Santana is listed aboard eight mounts Thursday and seven more Friday, while Graham is slated for eight mounts Thursday and 11 more Friday, although two of those are in Friday’s sixth race.      


WIGMORE HALL, NEVER RETREAT WIN SUNDAY STAKES AT WOODBINE        
Mark Hawtin’s British-based Wigmore Hall, who crossed the Atlantic last summer to finish second in Arlington’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes and again this season to run fourth in the Grade I Arlington Million, made a third transatlantic journey in September to win Woodbine’s Grade I Northern Dancer Turf Stakes last Sunday.

Three races earlier on that Woodbine Sunday program, Team Block’s Arlington-based Never Retreat took down winning honors in the Grade II Canadian Stakes for Arlington trainer Chris Block.

Earlier this summer, Never Retreat captured Woodbine’s Grade II Dance Smartly Stakes before returning to Chicago to run seventh in Arlington’s Grade I Beverly D. as the sister race to the Arlington Million.