Barn Notes: Thursday, August 23, 2012
In Today's Notes: Upperline, 'Willcox' Exit Beverly D., Million 'In Good Shape'; Catalano, Stidham Stay One-Two in Trainer Standings; Torres, Graham Continue Duel for Leading Rider Honors; Maywood's Joe Mazzone Arlington's Announcer for Thursday
UPPERLINE, 'WILLCOX' EXIT BEVERLY D., MILLION 'IN GOOD SHAPE'
Trainer Mike Stidham was back in Chicago August 23 following a quick trip to California to celebrate his mother Anita's 80th birthday one day earlier. However, during the International Festival of Racing August 18, he was in full force at Arlington, saddling Stone Farm et al.'s Upperline to run fifth in the Grade I Beverly D. and All In Stable's Willcox Inn to prompt the pace of Priscilla Vaccarezza's front-running Arlington Million winner Little Mike.
"They both came out of their races in good shape," Stidham said just hours after his return to the Windy City. "Upperline ran her typical race. She tried hard, gave it her best but unfortunately we didn't quite get the Grade I stakes-placing we were hoping for. We're not sure what might be next for her – possibly it will be the (Grade I) Spinster at Keeneland (Oct. 7) or maybe that race in California they used to call the Yellow Ribbon – now it's called the (Grade I) Rodeo Drive (Sept. 29).
"As for Willcox Inn, I was worried about his ability to get the mile and quarter going into the Million, and I think that distance is just a little too far for him," Stidham said. "I think we'll look around for something no farther than a mile and an eighth the next time."
CATALANO, STIDHAM STAY ONE-TWO IN TRAINER STANDINGS
Arlington's nine-time trainer champion Wayne Catalano had drawn off to a comfortable nine-win lead in the local trainer standings at the conclusion of Arlington Million week and is presumably on his way to his 10th Arlington title.
However, Catalano also added a further feather in his cap by taking down winning honors in Saratoga's Grade II Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga Sunday with Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Stephanie's Kitten.
August 23, 2012
According to Catalano, Stephanie's Kitten, heroine of last year's Grade II Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, will now be pointed to Keeneland's Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Oct. 13 prior to the Breeders' Cup.
Trainer Mike Stidham had a one-win advantage over Chris Block for the runner-up spot in the trainer standings at the conclusion of the August 19 card, although Block had tied for second briefly at the end of Arlington Million Day.
Defending Arlington trainer champion Larry Rivelli held down the fourth spot, two wins in arrears of Block.
TORRES, GRAHAM CONTINUE DUEL FOR LEADING RIDER HONORS
Veteran Chicago-raised reins master Francisco Torres, in pursuit of his first Arlington jockey championship, enjoyed a three-win lead over Arlington's defending jockey champion James Graham at the conclusion of Arlington Million week.
The Mexican-born Torres and the Irish-born Graham have been in an extremely competitive duel through Arlington's 2012 session which entered its 66th day of a 90-day meeting on Thursday.
Rosemary Homeister Jr., racing's runner-up all-time leading female rider who is riding at Arlington for the first time this summer, held down the third position comfortably entering Thursday's races but jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, who also brought his tack to Arlington for the first time this summer, had a red-hot Arlington Million week headed by a hat trick on August 16.
Seth Martinez, solidly in fifth position in the jockey standings, joins the top four with at least $1 million in purse earnings thus far in the season.
MAYWOOD'S JOE MAZZONE ARLINGTON'S ANNOUNCER FOR THURSDAY
Maywood announcer Joe Mazzone, a Chicago native who has manned the microphones at that Chicago oval for many years, filled in for Arlington announcer John G. Dooley for Thursday's races while Dooley took a scheduled day off.
Mazzone also filled in for one day at Arlington two summers ago on the only other race day Dooley has missed since taking over Arlington's horns at the beginning of the 2000 season.