Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, July 29

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/29/2011 #

In Today’s Notes:   Rivelli Full of ‘Surprize’ Wins This Season at Arlington; Dorochenko Doubles Thursday Along with Riders Baird, Geroux; Two Thursday Longshots Make for Early Pick-4 Carryover Friday

Chicago-born conditioner Larry Rivelli led Arlington’s trainer standings from opening day until a week ago when upstaged by Scott Becker, but after saddling two winners Thursday, he regained a one-win lead in the standings going into Friday’s twilight racing program.

“King for a Day,” said Rivelli Friday morning in reference to regaining the top spot.  “We’re running out of bullets, but at least we’re making a lot of ‘em count.”

Nowhere is that more evident than in the record of Richard Ravin’s Top Surprize, the Rivelli-trained 3-year-old who is the only horse on the grounds who is four-for-four at the meeting.  Without that son of Pure Prize in his barn, who he claimed from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott last spring at Gulfstream, Rivelli would be three wins in arrears of Becker, who trains exclusively for Arlington’s leading owner William Stiritz.

After bringing Top Surprize to Chicago from South Florida, the colt out of an Irish-bred Sadler’s Wells mare named Well At the Top has been perfect, breaking his maiden at first asking over Arlington’s world famous turf course May 13, returning to the winner’s circle twice more with clear cut victories in starter allowance company on the grass June 4 and July 3, and winning once more over the local lawn July 21 by 1 1/4-lengths in conditioned allowance company.

What’s next for the rapidly improving grass runner who has top-level turf breeding on both the top and bottom sides of his pedigree?

"We’re going to give him a shot in the (Grade I) Secretariat (Stakes on Aug. 13),” said Rivelli shortly after training hours Friday morning.  “He’s been nothing but good for us so we’re like to see exactly how far he can take us.”

The $400,000 Secretariat Stakes, which annually attracts 3-year-olds of international turf caliber, is one of three Grade I Stakes, along with the Arlington Million and the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mare, that will make up Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing on that second Saturday in August.

“The ‘sheet’ numbers give (Top Surprize) a big shot in the Secretariat,” said Rivelli.  “I’m not strictly a ‘sheets guy’, but I do like to take everything into consideration.

“I would say that this horse is probably one of the better claims I’ve made in my career,” said Rivelli, “but I’ve had some go the other way, too.  There’s a lot of luck involved in the claiming game.  This horse has turned out real nice for me, but I’m certainly not going to take anything away from Bill Mott.  He’s in the Hall of Fame.  I think what happened with this horse is that he just started maturing rapidly on his own right after I was fortunate enough to get him.”

Rivelli’s two wins Thursday came with Richard Ravin’s Richie’s Hot Girl in the opener and Richard Ravin and Larry Rivelli’s appropriately-named Rivrav in the fourth race of the day.

Russian-born conditioner Gennadi Dorochenko, enjoying a successful debut season at Arlington Park, moved into a tie for fifth in the trainer standings entering Friday’s program after posting two wins Thursday, capturing the seventh race with Raut LLC’s L’Aiglon and coming right back to the winner’s circle in the eighth with Raut’s Anearlybreeze.

Jockey E. T. Baird rode a bookend double Thursday, winning the opener on Richard Ravin’s Richie’s Hot Girl for Larry Rivelli and the finale astride Anthony Granitz and Jerry Gryczewski’s Pirates Vow, who was saddled by trainer Granitz.

French-born reinsman Florent Geroux also rode two winners Thursday, taking the third race with Dennis Becker’s Minnie Sunshine for trainer Danny Miller and then winning the seventh with Raut LLC’s L’Aiglon for trainer Gennadi Dorochenko.

An Early Pick-4 carryover pool of almost $12,000 was available in Friday’s Early Pick-4, beginning in the second race, after two 25-1 longshots tallied in Thursday’s second and fifth races.  That pool was expected to grow to an estimated $30,000 before Friday’s second race.

Doneshaw Farm’s Carl’s C Note, trained by Joe Griffitt and ridden by Brandon Meier, won the second half of Thursday’s Daily Double and paid $58.20 to win; while Nancy Vanier’s Heavenly Soul, trained by Brian Williamson and ridden by apprentice jockey Constantino Roman, took the fifth Thursday and returned $52.20 straight.

Arlington’s Pick-4 is a 50-cent wager in which guests try to pick the winners of the second through fifth races on the same ticket.