Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Monday, Aug. 8 - AM Edition

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/08/2011 #

In Today's AM Notes: Arlington's Fab Five Favored Over Legends in Jockey Challenge; Longshot General Perfect Stretching Out in Old Age; Two Illinois Owners Stakes Top Friday's Arlington Card

Odds have been set for the second-annual Legends Race at Arlington Park Friday, Aug. 12 pitting five legends of the saddles versus the top five riders in Arlington's jockey standings in the "Arlington Fab Five vs. Legends" Jockey Challenge Wager.

Arlington's Fab Five – Jozbin Santana, James Graham, Eduardo Perez, E. T. Baird and Junior Alvarado – has been pegged as the 2-5 morning line favorite in the special wager buoyed by Baird's mount aboard Charles Sigrist & Del Sol Farm's Lucky Gal, the 7-2 morning line favorite in the one-mile turf race for $15,000 claimers.

The Legends – Hall of Famers Earlie Fires and Chris McCarron; two-time Arlington champion Mark Guidry; Patti Cooksey, at one time the leading female rider in races won; and 1977 Triple Crown winning jockey 72-year-old Jean Cruguet – is 7-5 in the morning line.

The lowest single morning-line odds on a Legends' horse is 4-1 on the Cruguet-ridden Raillery, owned by Gregory Carlevale and trained by Lisa Merritt. Should he win the race, it is believed that Cruguet will become the oldest jockey to win a sanctioned betting race.

The Jockey Challenge Wager is a $2 Win wager on the group the bettor thinks will earn more points based on a scale that awards 12 points for first, 10 points for second, seven points for third, six points for fourth and four points for fifth.

In last year's inaugural jockey challenge, led by Inez Karlsson, who won the race aboard Saint Leon, Team Arlington (called the "Young Guns") outscored the Legends (called the "Cagey Veterans") by a count of 25-14.

Pasquale Vizzoni's General Perfect, likely to be one of longer prices in the race, is slated to arrive at Arlington Park on Wednesday in advance of his start in Saturday's Arlington Million XXIX, one day before his trainer Glenn Thompson.

The son of Perfect comes into the race off a fifth-place finish in the Grade III Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 31, and according to Thompson, the 8-year-old gelding will gallop up to the race.

"He doesn't need a lot in the way of work," said Thompson, who will be saddling his first Arlington Million starter. "He just ran on July 31 so he won't need a breeze. He gallops strong in the morning."

A sprinter for the majority of his career, Thompson has stretched the horse out in his last two starts.

"I get on him myself in the mornings," he explained. "When I first got him (last year), he'd try to run off with me. One morning, he took off and I decided to let him tire himself out. After about a mile and a half, I clucked to him and he re-broke. So, I thought to myself that he wanted to run long. I tried him long once on the dirt in New York in the fall and he didn't like it, so I had to wait for the right time to try again."

He went back to sprinting and won the $82,000 John McSorley Stakes over 5 ½ furlongs in June before his trainer decided to try him long again.

"After he won the sprint stakes race, the owner gave me a little leeway to try him long again," Thompson said. "It was a big step up to run in the (Grade I) United Nations but I was confident he'd run well. He was fanned out way wide in the stretch or I think he could have been closer, maybe only a couple of lengths off the winner had he not lost so much ground on the turn. I was real proud of his effort. He's a pretty special horse."

One day before some of the best horses in the world will do battle in the Grade I Arlington Million, Grade I Secretariat Stakes and Grade I Beverly D., locally owned horses will get their day in the spotlight with $60,000-added divisions of Illinois Owners' Stakes races offered – one for colts and geldings and one for fillies and mares. Each of the two races will be run at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf.

Robert & Kelly Dobbs & Carson Springs Farm's Tazz, winner of the $100,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap on June 25, is the 3-1 favorite in the male division of the Illinois Owners' Stakes. Seth Martinez will ride the Christine Janks-trained son of Roar of the Tiger.

In the distaff division, Askbut I Won'ttell, owned by Rich Ege & Team Block, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice. Trained by Chris Block, the 5-year-old mare is winless this year but has been facing much tougher company. Last out, the daughter of Horse Chestnut ran fourth beaten only 3 ¼ lengths in the Grade III Modesty Handicap, the designated local prep for Saturday's Beverly D.