Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, May 25, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/25/2013 #
  • Trainer Wayne Catalano shows off four fingers for his four-bagger on Fri., May 24, 2013 at Arlington International.

In Today’s Notes: Catalano Lands Four, Hill Three on Friday Card; International Champion Jockey Moreira Riding Today

Defending meet champion trainer Wayne Catalano had an impressive day on Friday, even for his lofty standards.  Arlington International Racecourse meet champion 10 of the last 13 years, Catalano proved victorious with four of his five entrants, with the fifth finishing a close second.

“It was a great day.  It’s great to be back home at Arlington and back in action,” said the trainer who was visibly jovial after his victory in the nightcap.  After spending the first three weeks of the meet in a battle with 2011 meet champion Larry Rivelli, Catalano put a four win gap between himself and his colleague.

“If there’s one thing about this meet, and I’ve been doing this a long time, is that it’s a long meet and you just have to keep focused and keep going.  You can’t rest on your laurels,” Catalano advised.  “We’re getting settled here and picking our spots and performing well.  You can’t put your eggs in one basket.”  Catalano is now striking at a phenomenal 39%, with 66% in the money, and is on pace to break last year’s 63 wins.

Three of Catalano’s four Friday victories came with Channing Hill in the irons.  “Channing’s always been a talented jockey and he brought what he learned from New York over to here and that has helped him.  He is a good jockey and just needed the (good) horses.”

Hill took his successful day in humble stride.  “It’s pretty easy when you ride those kinds.  I had some great horses today and they made it easier than it looked,” he reflected.  Hill was victorious on Bluegrass VII’s Control Tower in the second race, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s graded stakes-placed Coalport in the fourth and Tim Leary and Wendell Yates’ Warbird in the nightcap.  Hill now pulls into a tie for the lead with apprentice Emmaneual Esquivel, thanks to a meet-leading 27% strike rate.  He also leads in purses earned. 

Today Hill and Catalano team up again in the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Matron on Coffeepot Stable’s 6-1 shot Imposing Grace.  The daughter of synthetic-friendly sire and Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker should move up from her disappointing showing in the Grade II La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.  “Imposing Grace is coming up to the race really well today and I think we have a shot,” Catalano stated.

Manufactured in Brazil, perfected in Southeast Asia and now servicing the American Midwest - and it is not even a smartphone.  It is a he, and he is international superstar jockey Joao Moreira, who is at Arlington International Racecourse to ride three horses on today’s graded stakes-heavy card.

Moreira is a multiple-season champion jockey in Singapore who, previous to 2009, was winning classic races in his native Brazil.  Barely three decades old, Moreira has smashed the wins record twice in Singapore and won such Group I races as the Singapore Guineas, Singapore Derby, Derby Argentino and Grande Premio Diana (Brazilian Oaks).

After catching the eye of American trainer Wesley Ward, Moreira was asked to come to the United States and ride a few horses for the prolific trainer.  Today at Arlington, he rides St. George Stable’s 3-year-old Finura for Ward in the sixth race, a maiden special weight over eight grassy furlongs.  In the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Matron, Moreira rides Ward’s charge Sisterhood (a rare non-‘Kitten’ by Kitten’s Joy) for Ken and Sarah Ramsey. 

“He’s a phenomenal rider,” Ward said. “He is going to ride at Arlington on Saturday and he’ll be (at Churchill Downs) to ride on Sunday and Monday. He wants to be in the United States and hopefully this weekend will open the eyes of other owners and trainers.”

Moreira picked up his final mount today on Glen Hill Farm’s Procurement in the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Classic when Garrett Gomez had to cancel his trip to Arlington because of a spill yesterday at Hollywood Park.  According to HRTV’s Christina Blacker, “Gomez who went down in BHP 1 yesterday is too body sore to make the trip to Arlington today.”