Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, September 29, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/29/2012 #
  • Francisco Torres

In Today's Notes: Chicago-Raised Jockey 'Cisco' Torres Title-Bound at Arlington; Significant Work Tab Activity at Arlington Saturday Morning

Veteran Chicago-raised jockey Francisco Torres, who remembers running up and down the stairs of the old Arlington Park as kid in the early '70s, now appears certain to secure his first riding championship at Chicago's northwest suburban oval at 43 years of age.

With two racing days left before Arlington brings down the curtain of its 2012 season on Sunday, Torres led the local rider standings by eight wins, a comfortable enough advantage that allowed him to talk about his lifelong quest although it had not yet been mathematically accomplished.

"I always say if the good Lord wants it to happen, it will happen," Torres said between races during Friday's last twilight racing program of the current session. "I'd like to say that the fat lady hasn't sung yet, but as someone told me this morning, she's been busy warming up her vocal chords.

"I'm going to be honest with you, if I win the Arlington title it will be a dream coming true for me," Torres said. "I remember running around the old building as a kid and watching riders like Ray Sibille, Pat Day, Juvenal Diaz and Earlie Fires every day. They were my idols and I can remember telling my Dad, 'You know, someday I'm going to win a lot of races here.'

"My agent Allan Plever and I have worked very hard to accomplish this dream," Torres said. "We've worked well together ever since I got back to Chicago this spring. I know you have to take these things one day at a time, but if I win the title I can only say it wouldn't have been possible without the trainers who have used me all summer long – guys like Danny Miller and even smaller outfits like the one Ida Spagnola has. It's the little outfits that owe the thanks to. I don't ride that much for the bigger guys.

"If I win this title, I will have covered a big milestone in my career," Torres said. "I came close in 2006, but it got away from me in the last few days that season. Chris Emigh and I alternated for the lead all summer long that year, but in the last few days he kept winning races while I tailed off a little bit. So close, but so far away. I'm just tickled pink that this time it looks like I'm going to get it done. This will be the icing on the cake.

"What's next for me?" Torres asked rhetorically. "I want to go on to Hawthorne and be the rider who wins the most races in Illinois for the year of 2012. No more going on to Fair Grounds or Oaklawn for me. I want to ride in Chicago all year long from now on. If I'm really lucky, I might be able to ride another 10 years or so. I still feel young.

"I've been blessed with a lot of talent, and I'm doing something I love to do," Torres concluded. "If I stay focused, I can still end my career on a high note."

On the penultimate day of Arlington's 2012 season, several Arlington-based stakes horses worked during training hours toward upcoming stakes.

Team Block's Leading Astray, heroine of Arlington's Grade III Pucker Up Stakes on Sept. 15, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40 and galloped out three-quarters of a mile in 1:14.40 in probable preparation for either Keeneland's Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Oct. 13 or the Grade III Pin Oak Valley View Stakes at that same central Kentucky oval on Oct. 19.

All In Stable et al.'s Willcox Inn, who won the first two legs of Arlington's Mid-America Triple last year, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.40 in preparation for Keeneland's Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile Oct. 6.

Stone Farm et al.'s Upperline, winner of this year's Grade III Arlington Matron, accomplished five-eighths in a minute flat and galloped out three-quarters in 1:13 flat in advance of Keeneland's Grade I Juddmonte Spinster Stakes Oct. 7.

Tri Star Racing and Joe Denson's Brown Almighty, winner of the $50,000 Sunny's Halo Stakes at Louisiana Downs, breezed five furlongs in 59.60 and galloped out three-quarters in 1:14.60 in preparation for Keeneland's Grade III Bourbon Stakes Oct. 7.