Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Thurs. May 19

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/19/2011 #

Trainers Dorochenko, Kirby Make Up Mutual Admiration Society; Arlington Offers $17, 563 Pick-5 Carryover Pool for Friday; Season High Win Payoff Posted Wednesday at Arlington

At first glance they appeared as somewhat of an odd couple as they met for the first time and engaged in conversation Wednesday morning on the Arlington apron during training hours.

There was the diminutive Russian-born former rider Gennadi Dorochenko, conceived while Russia still stifled under the umbrella of the Soviet Union, talking intently with the burly cowboy Frank Kirby, raised the son of a rancher in America’s heartland, originally the ground zero in the land of the free.

Dorochenko, retired as a rider but red-hot as an Arlington-based trainer and second in the local standings mid-week, is housed in an angular frame that still looks as if riding weight is in its potential.

Kirby, on the other hand, built beefy like an Omaha steak but assuredly a lot tougher, probably passed a jockey’s weight parameters prior to puberty, but as a conditioner he holds the unprecedented distinction of winning two Arlington trainer championships 30 years apart.

However, what Dorochenko and Kirby have in common is that they both grew up around horses:  Dorochenko in the equine community that surrounds Krasnodar in southern Russia, and Kirby in heavily-horse populated states like New Mexico, Arizona and Nebraska.  More important, since both were raised in the old school traditions of horsemanship, they both respect all horses first as living beings and only secondarily for their athletic potential.

How does the newcomer Dorochenko, a self-admitted enigma only two weeks ago with most of his horses coming off of races in Poland and Russia, feel about his early success at Chicago’s northwest oval?

“I thank God for this fast start I have had here,” said Dorochenko.  “This is a very nice track with a lot of good horses on the grounds.  But I also like to talk with the good horsemen they have here – guys like Frank Kirby.  He won two training titles here 30 years apart.  That tells you he’s a good horseman because it shows you the kind of dedication that you have to have to be a good horseman.”

Kirby, asked later for his first impressions of Dorochenko, was quick to reciprocate.  

“(Dorochenko) is a very interesting guy,” said Kirby, “and he’s a very smart guy.  I can tell he’s a good horseman just by the way his horses look when they come out on the track.  I admire these foreign horsemen because to them this whole game is all about conditioning.  All you have to do is take a look at any of their horses.  None of them have an ounce of fat on them.”

When Arlington offers its third Friday twilight racing program with its special 3 p.m. post time this weekend, a Pick-5 carryover pool of $17,563 will give Arlington guests and fans of Arlington’s simulcast schedule something special to shoot for.  That’s because the pool is expected to swell to an estimated $50,000 before it closes prior to Friday’s fifth race.

The Pick-5 is now in its second season on Arlington’s wagering menu but is being offered for the first time this year as a 50-cent wager.

Should any lucky fan be the only person to correctly pick all five winners in the fifth through ninth races Friday on the same ticket, that person would take home the entire pool.

When Michael Milkes’ Rivershire withstood a late challenge to win Wednesday’s seventh race at Arlington by a neck, the sophomore colt returned a win price of $73.80, highest straight mutuel recorded through the first eight days of Arlington’s 2011 season.

Rivershire, trained by Steve Manley, is a son of Chicago Six and was ridden by jockey Seth Martinez, who along with jockeys Junior Alvarado and Tim Thornton recorded riding doubles Wednesday afternoon.