trainer Leigh Bentley has saddled horses in more stakes at Arlington
than she can remember, and a lot of them went on to victory.
In 2008 Bentley saddled Fab
Oak Stable et al.’s Stream Cat to win the Grade III Arlington Handicap and G.
Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Communique to take the Grade III Modesty Handicap on the
same day – Million Preview Day. Later that summer she saddled D. R. Mason’s
Karelian to capture the $100,000 Sea o’ Erin,
and one year earlier she saddled Ashbrook Farm’s Wicked Style to win the Grade
III Arlington-Washington Futurity.
However, those horses were
saddled by Bentley on behalf of conditioner Rusty Arnold who has been her
Kentucky-based mentor for a number of years. Also in 2008 Bentley saddled
Chrysalis Stable’s Silverfoot to win the Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap,
but that was on behalf of Dallas Stewart, another Kentucky-based mentor who she
originally knew back when they both served as assistants for Hall of Fame
trainer Wayne Lukas.
This Saturday, Bentley will
saddle Green Lantern Stable’s Sea
Level Drive in Arlington’s
Grade III Pucker Up Stakes, and that filly will become the first stakes horse
Bentley will saddle in her own name. Although the daughter of Malibu Moon
has been summarily dismissed at 30-1 in the morning line, Bentley thinks the
sky’s the limit for the future of Sea
“I’m very excited to have this
first chance to saddle a horse in a stakes race that is listed in my name,”
Bentley said, “especially a filly like this one. She does everything I’ve
asked her to do very easily, and I’m very lucky (owner) Richard Masson and
Rusty are allowing me keep her to run her in my name. Hopefully, I’ll do
them proud. The owners and Rusty are super people and great for the
Level Drive) obviously likes Polytrack,” said
Bentley of the filly who won her most recent start by almost 13 lengths on July
30 over Arlington’s
synthetic surface, “but when I worked her on the grass here the other day (five
furlongs in 1:04.80 on Sept. 7) she did it easily. Whenever I get on her
in the mornings, she’s very, very nice to ride.
“It’s always been nice to saddle a horse in a
stakes race but it’s even nicer to have one of your own to saddle,” said
Bentley, who has been training on her own for about four years.
“I’ve been around horses all
my life,” added Bentley, who was born and grew up in the Steeplechase-saturated
horse country around Middleburg,
Va. “I rode jumpers as a
little girl and I’ve wanted to become a trainer ever since I got too big to
“My cousin was Henry Forrest,”
Bentley said, speaking of the legendary trainer who concluded his career as
Calumet Farm’s conditioner. “I hate to admit this because it shows my
age, but I was born on the day my cousin saddled (Michael Ford’s) Kauai
King to win the Kentucky Derby. Surely that must mean I’m meant to win
the Kentucky Derby, too. But let’s take it one race at a time.
Right now, I’d just like to win the Pucker Up on Saturday.”
LEADING JOCKEY JAMES GRAHAM RIDES THURSDAY TRIPLE
Jockey James Graham rode three
winners Thursday to expand his current leading rider margin to five victories
over current runner-up reinsman J. Z. Santana.
The Irish-born Graham won
Thursday’s third on Ronnie Edmondson and Linda and Keith Miller’s Prime Speed
for trainer Tim Ice, the sixth on Danny Peitz and Tom McCrocklin’s Mawaaqef for
conditioner Peitz and the seventh on Hugh Robertson and Barry Butzow’s Ensorcel
for trainer Robertson.
On the same program the Puerto
Rico-born Santana kept the race close with a riding double, taking the fifth
with Ron Magers, Roe Conn, Robert Marcocchio and Russell Scurto’s Third Chance
for trainer Jimmy DiVito and then reached the 70-wins-at-the-meeting mark
astride Starlight Racing’s Achamenes for conditioner Doug Matthews.
Venezuelan-born jockey Junior
2009 jockey champion, remains in third position this year with 65 wins through
Thursday. Alvarado was the runner-up in Arlington’s
JOCKEY FLORENT GEROUX BECOMES A FATHER FOR THE FIRST
Jockey Florent Geroux, now in
his fourth season of riding at Arlington,
became a father for the first time Thursday.
The French-born Geroux is now
the proud father of Olivia Matilde Geroux, who measured 19 inches at
Geroux, who won the Grade III
Pucker Up Stakes last season at Arlington
aboard Lawrence Peifer’s Dade Baby for trainer Danny Miller, is slated to ride
Herman Van Den Broeck’s Angelica Zapata in Saturday’s 47th renewal of the
Pucker Up for trainer Ronald Pelligrini.