Early Season Hints

By Joe Kristufek

The 2010 Arlington Park racing season has just begun, but it's not too early to talk about some angles that might help us cash some tickets.

The Track
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a bias, but speed did hold up well over Arlington's Polytrack in week one. Thirteen of the 31 winners (42%) led at every call, while only six closed from more than five lengths off the pace to score (19.4%).

The Trainers
Larry Rivelli - Was one of the first trainers to arrive on the grounds, so it was obvious that he was intent on getting off to a good start. He's done just that, winning with four of his first 12 starters.

Wayne Catalano - Arlington's perennial leading trainer also has live bullets to fire early on. He won with three of his first 12 starters, and only two of his runners have failed to light the toteboard.

Nick Canani - The son of top California conditioner Julio Canani, his stable houses the majority of the horses for top owner Frank Calabrese. He won with 15 of his 46 starters at the super tough Gulfstream Park meet, where Calabrese was leading owner. Opening week at Arlington Canani posted three wins and two seconds from five starters, all of which were post time favorites. Calabrese also has a few horses with Ron Faucheux, who won with his only runner last week, an even-money favorite.

Dan Peitz - Arlington newcomer has quickly made a positive impression, winning with two of his first three starters at an average mutuel of $10.

Moises Yanez - He won with just one of his 14 starters last week but that lone winner, Sunday turf upsetter Sam Owen, paid $44.60. Wagering success is not measured by how many winners you bet, but by how much money you make. If you bet $2 on all the Yanez horses you'd have tossed 13 tickets, but the one you cashed would have more than made up for it. The moral of the story is to be aware off all the Yanez runners early in the meet, particularly on the grass. He points his horses to take that next step at this point of the year.

Chris Block - He won only one race opening week, but it came with the promising turfer Mourette for owner Dick Otto. Team Block points for Arlington. You can't ignore the barn in any races, but they're most dangerous with Illinois-breds and grass horses.

Christine Janks - Although she failed to win from nine starts opening week, six of her horses hit the board. She got off to a slow start last Arlington season too, but warmed up as spring turned to summer.

The Jockeys
Junior Alvarado - Arlington's defending champ had off-season surgery on a shoulder that bothered him quite a bit the second half of last season. The 23-year-old warmed up at Tampa Bay Downs and Keeneland with great success and enters this Arlington meet healthier and more experienced. He rode four winners opening week, and was three for five for Canani/Calabrese. If he rides first call for that powerful stable all meet, and that's a big if, he's a safe bet to successfully defend his Arlington crown.

James Graham - With graded stakes mounts lined up for Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs, the "Lucky Charm" was a non-factor opening week at Arlington, failing to win from just one mount. Look for the bobblehead jig to return to Arlington's winner's circle dance floor this week.

Michael Baze - The California invader made his presence felt opening week, winning three races (2 for 7 for Catalano) and lighting the tote with 75% of his 16 mounts.

Jesus Castanon - Has gotten off to a slow start, winning with just two of his first 28 mounts, but with super agent Dennis Cooper in his corner, you can expect him to compete for the title while riding several stakes winners along the way.

Inez Karlsson - Arlington's leading jockey week one with five scores from 24 mounts, there isn't a jock in the room who works harder. After wintering at Tampa, she dropped her stake at Hawthorne a few weeks into the meet and won with 42 of her 169 mounts (25%).

Tanner Riggs - Put himself on the map as leading rider at Hawthorne last fall and again in the spring. He bagged four winners opening week and should be steady all season.

Brandon Meier - The son of Chicago riding legend Randy Meier, the next generation bagged a riding triple on Sunday.

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Monday Facebook Q&A
Every Monday on the Arlington Park Facebook page, HorseplayerNOW.com's Brian W. Spencer and I will field questions in the morning, and provide answers in the evening. No matter how simple or how complex, every question is a good question. We look forward to your participation.

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My complete Arlington Park selections can be found in the Daily Herald, but let's face it, things change. Even though I have an opinion going into each race, there are several factors that can alter my thinking. Scratches can alter expected pace scenarios. I also pay close attention to the way the track is playing, the action on the toteboard, and how the horses look in the post parade. Following the introduction of the horses on the track, I will "tweet" my final thoughts and selections at twitter.com/arlingtonracing. You can follow on Twitter or via the arlingtonpark.com website.