Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, May 6

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/06/2011 #
  • Arlington Million Preview at Churchill on Kentucky Derby Day; Apprentice Jockey Josh Molitor One to Watch at Arlington; Chicago Native Selected to Place $100,000 Kentucky Derby Wager

The 137th running of the Kentucky Derby – America’s most famous Thoroughbred horse race – captures the attention of the nation this Saturday, but also slated for Saturday’s Churchill Downs program is the 25th anniversary edition of the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

That nine-furlong event for 3-year-olds and up over the Louisville lawn annually serves as the first step on the road to the Grade I Arlington Million – centerpiece event of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season.

However, as opposed to the Kentucky Derby – still almost exclusively for North American runners despite the presence of Mrs. John Magnier’s Master of Hounds this year –  the Arlington Million, to be run this summer on Aug. 13, annually attracts horses from Great Britain, France, Ireland and other exotic points of call.

Three Woodford Reserve winners – Masayuki Nishiyama’s Paradise Creek in 1994, James Lewis Jr.’s Mecke in 1996,  and Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s Beat Hollow in 2002 – went on to win the Arlington Million later in those seasons.

Columbine Stable’s Manndar in 2002 and Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s Cacique in 2006 won the Woodford Reserve in the spring and were both runner-ups in the Arlington Million later those summers.

Sky Conquerer, hero of the 2007 Woodford Reserve, was a 2007 Million candidate until days before the Chicago classic, but Kingfields’ Jambalaya, third to Sky Conqueror in Woodbine’s Northern Dancer but winner of Gulfstream’s Grade II Pan American Handicap the previous winter, regained his best form in time to win the 2008 Arlington Million.

Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, winner of last year’s Woodford Reserve, was making a strong move approaching the lane in last summer’s Arlington Million before stopping suddenly due to injuries suffered in the race.

Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada, fourth in last year’s Million, is one of 14 in the body of Saturday’s Woodford Reserve, to be contested as the race prior to the Kentucky Derby.

APPRENTICE JOCKEY JOSH MOLITOR ONE TO WATCH AT ARLINGTON         Listed astride eight mounts during Arlington’s three-day opening weekend is apprentice jockey Josh Molitor, who officially began his riding career at Grand Island, Nebraska, during the Nebraska State Fair.

After riding eight winners at Grand Island, Molitor brought his tack to Chicago where he rode five more winners during Hawthorne’s recently completed spring session.

The 19-year-old Minnesota native was born in St. Paul but grew up on a cattle farm not far from Duluth.  His first exposure to Thoroughbred racing came at Canterbury Park four years ago, but he went to high school with jockey Jordan Olesiak, a leading rider at Grand Island who convinced Molitor to follow him out to Nebraska.

Chicagoan Dave Flores had his name randomly drawn to place a free $100,000 on any horse he chooses in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.  The wager is being offered for the second consecutive year through a partnership between Churchill Downs and NBC Sports.

During last year’s Kentucky Derby, Glen Fullerton of Houston, Texas, won $900,000 when WinStar Farm’s Super Saver won the race at odds of 8-1.

Flores, who works in a metal manufacturing shop on the Southside and estimates he has attended at least 20 Kentucky Derbys, met his fiancé, a Louisville native, at the Kentucky Oaks four years ago.