Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Sunday, Sept. 4

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/04/2011 #

In Today's Notes: Block, Butler Balance Arlington, Saratoga Stakes Saturday; Jockey Junior Alvarado Hits Saturday Hat Trick at Arlington; DiVito Works Twelve Hundred for Arlington-Washington Futurity

Arlington-based trainer Chris Block won Saturday's Grade III Washington Park Handicap at Arlington with Lothenbach Stables' Mister Marti Gras, but Block was at Saratoga to saddle Virginia Tarra's Giant Oak in the Grade I Woodward Stakes, where that horse finished fifth.

Newmarket-based conditioner Gerard Butler was at Arlington Park Saturday to saddle Michael Deegan's Maristar and Asaad Al Banwan's Burj Alzain to third and fourth-place finishes respectively in the Washington Park Handicap. That race came less than an hour after Deegan's Pachattack, also trained by Butler, finished second in Saratoga's Grade I Personal Ensign Invitational.

So while Butler had a comfortable amount of time to watch the simulcast of the Personal Ensign while at Arlington and then saddle Maristar and Burj Alzain in the Washington Park, Block was hard-pressed to saddle Giant Oak at Saratoga and then get to a television monitor to watch the simulcast of the Washington Park.

Butler's Pachattack was well-placed early in the Personal Ensign, lost some position on the first turn and was then forced wide the rest of the way. She made up some ground on the winning, weaving front-runner in the lane to be clearly second but could not catch that one despite her own meandering ways.

Shortly thereafter, while observing the Washington Park from the Arlington Park stands, Butler watched Maristar trail the field early, make a bold late run when set down for the drive but then get pinched back in the last strides behind the first two horses under the wire. E. T. Baird, the jockey aboard Maristar, lodged an objection against both Mister Marti Gras and Estrorace's Workin for Hops, second under the wire.

The objection against Workin for Hops was allowed but the one against Mister Marti Gras was not, so Maristar was subsequently placed second in the Washington Park.

"Certainly, this last hour or so has been an eventful one for me," said the dry, understated Butler as he walked through the tunnel after the Washington Park.

Meanwhile, back at Saratoga, Block was budgeting his time as best he could.

"I saddled Giant Oak, and then when all the (Woodward) horses were going out on the track, I ducked back through the tunnel to watch the Washington Park," said Block Sunday morning while speaking from the apron at Arlington during training hours. "I saw that we won the race at Arlington and then I watched the Woodward.

"But after I watched the Woodward, I came back glanced up at one of the Arlington monitors and saw our number flashing along with the others," Block said. "I wondered what we could have done wrong, but after I watched the head-on replay, I got fairly confident that we would not be involved in any changes in the order of finish. Nevertheless, I had to keep watching the Arlington monitors until the numbers stopped flashing and they made the race official.

"I haven't been to my barn yet," concluded Block Sunday. "I just got back to town from Saratoga but understand Mister Marti Gras came back really good, ate up everything last night and was in good shape this morning."

Jockey Junior Alvarado, Arlington's 2009 jockey champion and runner-up last season, was still 10 wins behind current leading rider James Graham entering Sunday's races but can't be counted out of the jockeys' race just yet despite missing five weeks of the season with a broken collarbone.

The 25-year-old native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, scored a riding triple Saturday, winning the third race on Pin Oak Stable's Another World for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, the fifth aboard AJM Racing's Magic Man for conditioner Tammy Domenosky and then concluded his hat trick with a win on Louie Roussel III's Tight Grip for that owner-trainer.

Trainer Jimmy DiVito worked B Jock LLC's Twelve Hundred three-quarters of a mile in 1:13 Sunday morning at Arlington in preparation for this Saturday's Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity.

"He went good and he finished up good," said DiVito shortly after Twelve Hundred's breeze. "We're ready to go. Hopefully, we'll get a good trip Saturday."