Race of the Week 2017

Arlington: Karlsson Wants to Ride Again

Just over a year ago, Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada won the Grade III Arlington Handicap with jockey Inez Karlsson aboard, and then that horse and rider went on to finish fourth in last summer’s Grade I Arlington Million.


This summer, Rahystrada remains on track for a return engagement in the upcoming Arlington Million on Aug. 13, but because Karlsson became a mother for the first time in her life just over a week ago, the 7-year-old gelding will have jockey Sheldon Russell (aboard for Rahystrada’s Colonial Cup win in his last start June 18) in the irons.


However, it would not be prudent to write off Karlsson’s career as a jockey.  Arlington’s all-time leading female rider plans to begin getting back on horses as soon as October.


“That’s my plan,” said Karlsson this week.  “I feel great right now, but I had to have a C-section the other day – which I hadn’t really planned on – and the doctors told me to take it easy for awhile until the staples come out.


“I just got her (daughter Sophia Rose Calcagno) to sleep,” explained Karlsson midday Wednesday, “so this is my private time.  But I have a hard time sitting still.  I weighed 141 pounds just before I had the baby (July 25) but I’ve already lost more than 20 of those.  I like to stay active and I’ve been able to go swimming for about an hour every day.”


Was a second-generation jockey career a possibility for Karlsson’s newborn daughter?


“I don’t think so,” Karlsson said.  “She eats like a horse and she’s already grown a half-inch since she was born, but she could still end up wanting to work with horses without becoming a jockey.  I want to let her be whatever she wants to be.


“I’m really going to try to come out to Arlington for the Million to watch Rahystrada run,” concluded Karlsson.  “Those people (owner Courtney and trainer Scooter Hughes) have already invited me to join them and I’d love to come out and root for Rahystrada to win it.  I would consider it an honor to be there.”




Just before playing “Boots and Saddles’ for a race midway through Sunday’s Arlington Park program, Arlington bugler Jean Laurenz allowed herself a brief riff from George Gershwin’s “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leaving Soon for New York” from Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess.”


Laurenz’ ostinato musical pattern played prior to the call to the post is proving somewhat prescient, because Arlington’s bugler for the last two and half seasons will be headed up east after Arlington Million weekend – not by boat, and not exactly to New York, but a little ways up the Connecticut Turnpike to New Haven’s Yale University.


Born and raised in Arlington Heights, Illinois, the 24-year-old Laurenz, who graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in music and education, is pursuing more graduate musical studies at Yale, but hopes to resume her duties at Arlington, where she also sings the National Anthem before the races, at the beginning of the 2012 season.


Rachel Serber, who graduated with a master’s degree in trumpet from Northwestern in 2010, and plays for the Chicago Civic Orchestra, will fill in for the remainder of this season as Arlington’s bugler after Laurenz journeys “on her way to a heavenly land.”






Apprentice jockey Constantino Roman, Arlington’s leading “bug” rider so far this season, scored a riding double Sunday at the local oval, winning the second half of the Daily Double astride Carmella DiZeo’s Huckleberry Boy for trainer Dino DiZeo and a $15.60 win mutuel, and coming back to the winner’s circle after taking the fifth on Lucky 8 Stables’ Queen Anna for trainer Daniel Sanner and a $6.80 straight price.


Roman, whose engagements are being handled by Dennis Cooper, was scoring the first Arlington wins of the season for both those conditioners.


Also with two wins on Sunday’s program was leading jockey J. Z. Santana, who resumed his spot as the sole leader in the standings with his double, winning the fourth race with Jason Horner, Edward Seltzer and Mike Wiengarten’s Love This Kitten for trainer Larry Rivelli and the ninth aboard Ron Magers, Roe Conn, Robert Marcocchio and Russell Scurto’s Third Chance for conditioner Jimmy DiVito.


Arlington’s 2009 jockey champion and 2010 runner-up Junior Alvarado also rode two winners on the program, scoring in the third with Mt. Joy Stable’s Wrongful Suit for trainer Eric Reed and returning to the winner’s circle after the eighth on Oak Knoll Farm’s Charging Home for conditioner Brian Williamson.




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