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Curtain Falls on 2011 Arlington Meet
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Sept. 25, 2011) – The 86-day meeting at Arlington Park ended Sunday, Sept. 25, with track management upbeat and looking ahead to the 2012 season.
"We faced some early season challenges with cool and wet weather during May and the first part of June," said Arlington Park General Manager Tony Petrillo, in his first season at the helm of the suburban Chicago race course. "But our team believed in the plan we laid out and stuck with it allowing us to finish strong to have a great season."
The visibility of this year's Arlington Million, won by Cape Blanco, was greatly increased as the race was televised nationally by WGN-America, which is available in more than 72 million homes, and was broadcast overseas by Racing UK.
In addition, Arlington boasted an aggressive promotional calendar in 2011 that included a post-race concert by American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart; special days saluting Northwestern University, the Chicago Bears and Chicago Blackhawks; fireworks on July 2 which were enjoyed by a crowd in excess of 36,000; and new events Military Appreciation Day, Girls Day Out and Binny's Taste of the Track which helped expose Arlington to a wider audience.
The meet saw first-time Arlington Park titles for leading jockey, trainer and owner by James Graham, Larry Rivelli and William Stiritz respectively. The jockey race came down to the final day with just one win separating the top three riders entering the closing day card.
Graham, who finished second in the 2009 standings and third last year, earned his first ever riding title by bringing home 82 winners, three more than runner-ups Jozbin Santana and Junior Alvarado, Arlington's 2009 leading jockey. The 32-year-old Graham, a native of Finglas, Ireland, also led all riders in purses earned with $1,913,805.
With five wins during the first weekend of racing in May, Rivelli led the trainer standings from start to finish, concluding the season with 39 wins, two more than runner-up Scott Becker. Nine-time leading trainer Wayne Catalano finished third in the standings with 34 victories. Chris Block was leading trainer in purses earned with $977,588.
Stiritz's green and red silks appeared in the winner's circle 37 times, more than double his nearest competitor Midwest Thoroughbreds of Richard & Karen Papiese. This is the first title at Arlington for St. Louis, Missouri businessman Stiritz, who is also the owner of downstate Fairmount Park. Stiritz also led the owner standings in purses earned with $773,548.
On the track, Irish-bred Cape Blanco, owned by Mrs. Fitriani Hay, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, defeated Castleton Lyons' 2009 Arlington Million champion Gio Ponti in Arlington Million XXIX on Saturday, August 13 before a crowd of 31,069. The son of Irish champion Galileo is trained by Aidan O'Brien and was ridden by Jamie Spencer.
The Million victory by Cape Blanco gave O'Brien (Powerscourt, 2005) and co-owners Tabor (Marlin, 1997) and Magnier (Powerscourt, 2005) each a second score in the race while Spencer visited the Million winner's circle for the first time after being disqualified from the win in 2004 aboard Powerscourt.
Two races before the Million, O'Brien scored with Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor's Treasure Beach in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes. Colm O'Donoghue rode the son of Galileo who earlier this year won the Irish Derby just as Cape Blanco had done the previous year.
O'Brien had previously won the Secretariat in 2000 with Ciro while co-owner Tabor was the sole owner of 1996 victor Marlin.
Owner Martin Schwartz earned his third Beverly D. title when his neon orange silks were carried to victory by Stacelita in the 2011 edition of the Grade I race, with trainer Chad Brown and jockey Ramon Dominguez each winning the race for the first time. Schwartz had previously won the 2005 running with Angara and the following year's renewal with Gorella, both of which were trained by Christophe Clement.
Other impressive on-track performances were turned in by All In Stable's Willcox Inn, who captured the first two legs of the Mid-America Triple – the Arlington Classic and the Grade II American Derby – before being defeated by Treasure Beach in the Secretariat; Michael Deegan's Pachattack in the Grade III Arlington Matron; Jerry Namy's Shared Property in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity; Frank Fletcher's Rocket Twentyone in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie; and Glen Hill Farm's Marketing Mix in the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes.