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Arlington Park: Helicopter Takes Flight

Arlington Park.

In 2009, Richard Ravin and Christine Wagner’s Helicopter won nine races during the course of his sophomore season.  Only three horses in North America had more, and only three others as many. 


However, Typical Design, who led the continent with 11 wins that year, only had six more in 2010 and did not run this year, whereas Helicopter added seven more wins to his record in 2010 and recorded his third win this season in Thursday’s seventh race at Arlington.


Two other horses – Calm and Collected and Iberico – who each had 10 wins in 2009, did not win any races in 2010 or 2011.   


Newport Lulu, who along with Helicopter visited the winner’s circle nine times in 2009, only had three in 2010 and none this year, while Beware of the Bop and Stoneyer, who also had nine wins in 2009, only had one apiece in 2010.


Is it possible that Helicopter, with his total of 19 wins from the beginning of 2009 through Thursday, has posted more wins than any other horse in North America over that time frame?


It’s certainly probable, but even if he isn’t, Helicopter continues to be an amazing story at Arlington this year, which he began by winning the first race on opening day of Arlington’s 2011 season May 6.  On Thursday, he won the first race of his career on the grass, adding a new dimension to his admitted preference as a Polytrack horse. 


Helicopter has posted an 11-for-16 win record over Arlington’s Polytrack, but has also won over the Polytrack ovals at Woodbine, Keeneland and Presque Isle Downs.  Since going winless in his first 18 starts in 2008, he has posted his 19 wins in his 31 starts since, and has won at distances from seven furlongs to 2 1/4-miles. 


“Distance is the key for (Helicopter),” said trainer Larry Rivelli on Friday morning, “but they only write so many races going a mile and a half.  He doesn’t like dirt (although he’s won on it), and obviously Polytrack is his favorite surface, but if he can win on grass the way he did yesterday, that will definitely give us another option.” 





Casual horseplayers who like to wager on horses’ names could have had some fun with two exactas Thursday at Arlington Park.


Finishing second to Richard Ravin and Christine Wagner’s Helicopter was a horse named Navy Wings, owned by William Stiritz and trained by Scott Becker.


Then, in Thursday’s finale, Anthony Granitz and Derrick Miller’s Candyonmymind was the winner with a horse named Too Much Sugar, owned by Patricia and Ralph Esposito, as the runner-up.


Granitz, who also trains Candyonmymind, also saddled Captain Jack Racing Stable’s Hoist the Colors to win Thursday’s ninth race and sweep both halves of the late daily double.





When Arlington’s guests open their Arlington Park live racing programs beginning this Sunday, they will notice the addition of a QR barcode embedded in the header of each race courtesy of Equibase.


What will that do?


By scanning that barcode with a smartphone, Arlington’s more technologically advanced guests will be able to get instant scratches and changes before each race on their mobile device.  Also, if the guests scan the barcode after each race has been run, their smartphones will link to the official results page that has additional links for charts and video replays.


QR code readers can be downloaded to smartphones for free, and Equibase recommends the I-nigma reader for iPhone users and Google Goggles for Android-based smartphones.





Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington’s all-time leading rider, became the 11th jockey in Thoroughbred racing history to register 5,000 victories when he guided Loretta Clark’s Tex’s Zing to victory 21 years ago today at Arlington Park.





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