Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Wednesday, May 02, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/02/2012 #

In Today’s Notes: Arlington’s International Announcer:  Dooley Noted; Cloudy’s Knight Celebrates 12th Birthday Wednesday

As Chicago’s showcase Thoroughbred racing venue moves towards its second coming as Arlington International Racecourse in time for its 2012 opening Friday, John G. Dooley, the man who has called the Windy City races for the last 12 summers, has continued to expand his own international horizons.

One year ago, during Dooley’s one-month hiatus between his wintertime duties at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans and his Chicago-based summers, the 46-year-old veteran race caller made a spring stop in the historic Ukrainian city of Kiev. 

This spring, following the end of the Fair Grounds season on April 1, Dooley made a seven-day sojourn to Russia where he spent the week taking in his initial tour of Moscow.

“I fell in love with the city as soon as I arrived,” Dooley said of his latest international foray.  “From my hotel room, I looked directly out at Red Square – a place I had always dreamed of visiting.  I had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually there in the shadow of the Kremlin.

“I’ve always been a bit of a World War II buff – previously I’ve visited the beaches at Normandy and I’ve also been to Pearl Harbor,” Dooley said, “but there is a World War II museum in Moscow that is absolutely amazing.  It’s truly incredible to see how much pride Russians show when honoring their World War II veterans and their past.  It doesn’t matter where you are, whether it’s at the World War II Museum or in the stations along the Moscow Metro line.  The Russian people’s sense of honor and respect they have for that portion of their history is truly admirable.

“Ironically, I had just wrapped up the winter season at Fair Grounds by calling Hero of Order’s huge upset victory in last month’s Louisiana Derby, with his win payoff of $288 fresh in my mind,” Dooley said, “and then a couple of days later I’m looking at a display of Russia’s Cross of  Order at their museum.

“Last spring, when I went to Kiev, I visited its Museum of the Great Patriotic War, and two years ago, I got a chance to fly in one of the few B-17s that is still in operating condition,” Dooley said.

“Oddly enough,” Dooley noted when summarizing his recent travels, “I have not yet had the chance to visit the World War II Museum in New Orleans, but I do know that it considered to be the finest World War II museum in the United States, and that its located in New Orleans because that’s the home of the Higgins Boat, which was essential to the successful invasions of Normandy and Omaha Beach.”

Cloudy’s Knight, the S J Stables’ color bearer whose biggest victory came in 2007’s Grade I Canadian International at Woodbine Race Course but who is remembered locally for his numerous courageous performances in Arlington’s Grade III Stars and Stripes, celebrated his 12th birthday Wednesday during a party held in his honor at Country Ridge Stables in nearby Mundelein, Illinois.

“He’s as happy as ever,” reported Christine Gabriel, Arlington’s former television personality who adopted Cloudy’s Knight following his retirement from racing in late 2010.  “He still enjoys his ‘Guiness’ every day.  His trainer Laura Stern has been teaching him to be a jumper for less than a year now and he’s already clearing three-foot jumps.”

Gabriel, wife of former Arlington racing secretary Frank Gabriel, returned from her winter residence in Dubai in mid-April and is enjoying excellent health.