Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Sat. June 11

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/11/2011 #

General Quarters May Go Back on Grass for Next Start; Monsters of the Midway Shuffle to Arlington Park Sunday; Nakatani Wins Two Friday at Arlington, Takes Off for Belmont

Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, who loomed a threatening third entering the lane during last summer’s Grade I Arlington Million before stopping suddenly, returned to competition for the first time since that outing on Friday over Churchill Downs’ main track and finished second by a neck in a seven-furlong allowance $100,000 optional claiming event.

“I had him ready for yesterday, I know that much,” said McCarthy, who doubles as General Quarters’ trainer and was speaking over the phone from Louisville Saturday morning during training hours.  “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t win, but we were kept wide the whole way and never could get in.  The one time we had a chance to get inside another horse drifted out and we had to stay on the outside.  But he ran a good race and he came back fine.  He ate up all his supper last night and was right back looking for his breakfast when I got to the barn this morning.

“I think I’d like to put him back on the grass for his next start,” said McCarthy, a longtime Louisville resident, “maybe in the (Churchill’s Grade II) Firecracker (Handicap) here on July 4.  Then we’ll look around and see what else is out there over the summer.”

General Quarters has the rare distinction of having won Grade I races over synthetic going as well as grass, taking Keeneland’s 2009 Blue Grass Stakes over Polytrack as well as Churchill’s 2010 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic over the Louisville lawn. 

Wear orange and blue and let muscle memory recall and refine the steps of the Super Bowl Shuffle at Arlington Park on Sunday when Chicago’s northwest suburban oval hosts its inaugural Chicago Bears Day.

That’s when  Steve “Mongo” McMichael, Jay Hilgenberg, James “Big Cat” Williams and Tom Thayer will be on hand at Arlington to give their hometown fans a chance to get an autograph or photograph taken with those Bears stars of yesteryear who dominated not only the black and blue division but the entire National Football League in 1985.  "Big Cat" of course is from Bears teams of more recent vintage. 

Youngsters of the 21st century, born a decade or two later but well qualified as the Bears fans of more recent seasons, can get in on the spirit of Bears Day by heading to the Park Area.  There they will get a chance to run through the giant inflatable helmet that the players run through when they take the field at Soldier Field for home games.

Bears fans young and old can test their football skills, getting a chance to toss a football, hit tackling dummies and participate in many of the same drills that the professionals do during training camps.

Seventy-nine Thoroughbred horses interspersed throughout nine races are scheduled to join the Bears Sunday afternoon.

Staley the Mascot and several Bears coaches of the present day will be on hand at Arlington Sunday for Chicago Bears Day and there will be a special race named in honor of the Bears that will include a winner’s circle ceremony where Bears officials will be presented with a special gift.

Veteran California-based jockey Corey Nakatani, hanging his tack at Arlington Park on a regular basis for the first time this summer, posted a riding double early on Friday’s Arlington program before taking off early to travel to New York for his mount aboard Zayat Stables’ Nehro in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

Earlier this spring, Nakatani rode Nehro to finish second by a neck in Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby and then returned aboard the Steve Asmussen trainee to finish second in the Kentucky Derby to Team Valor’s Animal Kingdom.

On Friday at Arlington, Nakatani rode Richard Ravin’s Richie’s Hot Girl to win the fifth race for trainer Larry Rivelli and then came right back to the winner’s circle after the sixth aboard William Stiritz’ Pimm’s O’Clock for conditioner Scott Becker.

Rivelli and Becker were tied atop the trainers’ standings with 15 wins apiece entering Saturday’s Arlington program.