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Baird on top of heap in Chicago

Arlington Park.

Veteran jockey E. T. Baird, born in Chicago 44 years ago and raised in the Windy City, has rocketed to a significant early lead in the 2011 Arlington Park jockey standings based on his back-to-back riding triples Friday and Saturday at the Northwest suburban oval.


Baird’s Friday hat trick moved him into a tie with Junior Alvarado, who had enjoyed a good lead in this season’s standings before being sidelined one week earlier by a broken collarbone suffered in a May 27 spill, and it took Baird that much time to make up the gap.


However, Alvarado, who won the Arlington jockey championship in 2009 and was the runner-up last year, is expected to be out of action at least another five weeks based on an assessment by his orthopedic specialist this week.  That has left this summer’s competition wide open and Baird has been the quickest to take advantage of it.


Alvarado still has a three-win advantage over jockey James Graham, who had a riding double Saturday to move into sole possession of third-place entering Sunday’s races.  However, Baird’s back-to-back triples gave him 22 wins for the season with Graham his nearest active rival with 16 trips to the winner’s circle through Saturday’s races.


Baird won Saturday’s fifth race on Scarlet Stable’s Foxie’s Boy for trainer Roger Brueggemann, the seventh on Richard Ravin’s Top Surprize for leading trainer Larry Rivelli and came right back to the winner’s circle after the eighth on Good Karma Stable’s Enty’s Girl for conditioner Dale Bennett.


Although Baird has never won an Arlington championship, he finished third in 2007, again in 2009 and led at the halfway mark of last summer’s session.


Graham, meanwhile, combined his talents with trainer Mike Stidham to win Saturday’s late daily double, taking the ninth with Stone Farm et al.’s Summer Savory and then felling the finale with Joel Meredith’s Lumberyard Jack.


Veteran jockey Corey Nakatani, who brought his tack to Arlington last Wednesday, enjoyed a double Saturday as did Brueggemann as a trainer.





Thoroughbred owner William Stiritz, also owner of Fairmount Park downstate, was presented with Arlington’s Owner of the Month Award for May in winner’s circle ceremonies last Friday.


Stiritz has had his silks posed in the winner’s circle 11 times this year, five more than his nearest pursuer Richard Ravin entering Sunday’s racing program.  Almost half of his runners have finished in the money, and almost a third of his starters have won their races. His purse earnings are just shy of $200,000 so far, while none of his rivals have approached the $100,000 mark in earnings.


Earning Trainer of the Month honors for May was leading trainer Larry Rivelli, who enjoyed a three-win advantage over fellow conditioner Scott Becker, who serves as leading owner Stiritz’s private trainer.






Former jockey Carlos Silva, who retired from the tack less than two years ago as Arlington’s third all-time leading reinsman, officially embarked on a second career as a trainer by saddling Asiel Stable’s Dazzlin Day to finish sixth in the eighth race Saturday.


Dazzlin Day bumped with a rival leading the gate and had to be steadied but recovered to steadily improve position despite a wide trip.


“(Dazzlin Day) got bounced around coming out of the gate but he ran all right after that,” said Silva Sunday morning.


Was the Chilean-born horseman nervous during his debut as a trainer?


“Oh, yeah, I got a little nervous,” admitted Silva.  “I had butterflies going around in my stomach.  It’s a lot different saddling a horse in the paddock as a trainer than it is getting a leg up as a jockey.”


Silva’s second scheduled starter was Asiel Stable’s Wedgewood in Sunday’s third race of the day.





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