Michael Aro might not be a name a lot of race fans recognize, but the
55-year-old trainer has been a pretty good sleeper over the years at Saratoga. In the late
1990s, he shipped in to the Spa four years in a row, winning each time with a
tough claimer named Champagne
In 1990, he won the third race on Alabama Day with Keynote Speaker at
Aro is the son of a jockey who rode on the Maryland
small-track circuit before he got too big, and he cut his teeth as a horseman
under the top New England trainer J.J Kelly in the 1980s at Rockingham Park.
He keeps a stable of about 14, including steeplechasers, at Parx Racing, and
has his sights set on Saratoga
again this year.
On Thursday, he plans to run a steeplechaser and then show up for a
bigger challenge August 3 with Winning Image
for the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss, a six-furlong sprint stakes for
3-year-olds and up.
“The only thing I’ve done at Saratoga so far is make a few bucks,”
Aro said Friday morning. “Keynote Speaker, Champagne for Lisa, she was a nice claiming
mare. I’ve had a few winners.”
Winning Image, owned by Martin Scafidi, has won two stakes races this
year, both at Parx, and finished third in her most recent start, the $150,000
Sweet and Sassy Stakes on June 23 at Delaware
As usual that day, Winning Image was on the lead, but gave way to third
in the stretch.
“That jockey tried to fix running water,” joked Aro,
referring to regular rider Jose Caraballo, who retains the mount for the
Honorable Miss. “I think she’ll be on top of her game this time.
She worked awful fast the other day (four furlongs in 47.39 seconds on July
25). She’s very competitive; she gives 110 percent all the time.”
Winning Image has only been off the board in one of her past seven
starts, a seventh-place finish behind Nicole H in the Correction on February 4
on the inner dirt at Aqueduct.
“This past winter she came up with a lung infection and that was
her only bad race,” Aro said.
Four of Winning Image’s seven wins have come at Suffolk Downs and
the other three were in stakes races at Parx.
Aro believes the 5-year-old Southern Image mare is ready to win at her
third track. “She gets up two or three, relaxes, and that’s it,”