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Arlington Park Meet at Halfway Point

Arlington Park.

The first half of Arlington Park’s 86-day summer session in 2011 officially came to a close when KatieRich Stables’ Papa Sid galloped home  3 1/4-lengths in front of his nearest rival in Friday’s final race of the day.


Like the All-Star game earlier this week in major league baseball, where the teams leading their respective divisions begin to get serious consideration as possible World Series contenders, Arlington’s jockey and trainer standings deserve some perusal in an attempt to determine who might eventually be crowned Arlington’s leading rider and leading trainer when the 2011 Arlington season comes to a close on Sunday, Sept. 25.


However, more so than in recent memory, the jockey and trainer standings are both so competitive that predicting their eventual outcomes is still too close to call.


For instance, Arlington’s leading rider at the half-way mark is J. Z. Santana with 40 wins, but he’s only two wins in front of James Graham, who is two wins ahead of Eddie Perez, who has only one more win than E. T. Baird.


Still worthy of consideration for season-ending leading rider honors are Julio Felix and Junior Alvarado, six and seven wins respectively behind Baird at the half-way mark.


Alvarado, Arlington’s 2009 jockey champion and runner-up in the standings last year, is an especially interesting contender.


The 25-year-old native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, enjoyed a five-win lead in the standings when he was sidelined with a broken collarbone suffered in a spill May 27, and when he returned five weeks later July 3, he was only 13 wins off the pace of the leader Santana, and it was assumed he could quickly regain his status as the leader.  However, as of Saturday’s races, Alvarado was still 13 wins behind Santana.


Santana, 32, a native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, is hanging his tack at Arlington for only the second time this season, and tied for 13th in the 2010 standings, but began his surge to local prominence when he finished in a tie for leading rider honors at Hawthorne this spring.





Trainer Larry Rivelli has never won a training title at Arlington Park, but he’s led the 2011 standings since May 6, when he was the only conditioner to saddle two winners on the opening day program.


However, although he’s never lost the lead, which Rivelli held with 20 winners Friday night. he has been closely pursued throughout the first half of the season, first by Arlington’s Russian-born newcomer Gennadi Dorochenko and more recently by Scott Becker.


Becker had saddled 19 winners entering Saturday’s races, but Rivelli has only one horse entered for the day while Becker has three scheduled starters.


Currently poised within easy striking distance of Rivelli and Becker is Arlington’s perennial leading trainer Wayne Catalano, who got off to a much slower start than usual this season but has been steadily advancing into contention in recent days.


Catalano, Arlington’s leading trainer for the last six seasons (and nine of the last 11) celebrated a training double Thursday to reach the 15-win mark and has four horses entered Saturday.







The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (ITHA)’s annual summer picnic will be held on Monday from Noon-6:30 p.m. at Picnic Grove Park on Birch Lane in Fox River Grove, Illinois.


All owners, trainers, assistant trainers, jockeys, agents, blacksmiths, gate crew, racing staff and their immediate families are welcome.


Entertainment at the picnic will include games, Bingo, fishing, Baggo, a boat race, pontoon boat rides, swimming, music and a volleyball tournament.



Sodas and water will be provided, but guests are asked to bring their own beer and wine.


For tickets, call the ITHA at (847) 577-6465.


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