Chicago-born trainer Tony Granitz, 48, who saddled Captain Jack Racing Stable’s Mr. Mischief to win the $114,625 Black Tie Affair Handicap on Prairie State Festival Day, may still be a relatively young man but he has three decades of professional experience at Arlington behind him already and approximately 10 additional years as an Arlington guest before that.
“My brother (Chris) and I started working with horses as kids,” said Granitz a couple of weeks after Mr. Mischief’s win. “We had a neighbor who had horses. We’d get up at 4 a.m. in the morning to go work for him and then he’d take us out to Arlington to watch the races in the afternoon. I didn’t realize he was going to pay us $50 a week for helping him – we’d have done it for free – and he didn’t for several weeks. When I got my first check it was for $200. I thought I’d hit the Lotto.”
“I started as an assistant trainer for my brother when I was 18, and I took over the training of all the horses at 21,” Granitz said.
Twenty years ago Granitz won the 1991 Hawthorne Breeders’ Cup with a horse named Lord Joe, and he won eight races over a five-day span at Sportsman’s Park in 1993 to finish third in the Sportsman’s standings that year. Among his others scores away from Arlington was a victory in Aqueduct’s 1995 Count Fleet with Michael’s Star.
Here at Chicago’s northwest oval Granitz trained the eventual 1992 Illinois Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Coni Bug, and that filly went on to become Illinois Three-Year-Old Filly the following year.
In 2003 Granitz finished in the top 10 in Arlington’s trainer standings, due in some measure to victories by Wiggins in that year’s Springfield Stakes against Illinois-breds but also that colt’s win in the Round Table Stakes when facing open company.
“I suppose Wiggins’ victory in the Round Table is my biggest Arlington win so far in my career,” Granitz said, “but Mr. Mischief’s win in the Black Tie Affair was pretty special, too.
“Mr. Mischief ran a great race and it was a very exciting day for my owner John Loven (of Captain Jack Racing) because he was here to see it,” Granitz said. “Mr. Loven lives in Rockford, but he bought a box here for the first time this season and he’s been coming out to the races a lot. That’s a good thing. I’ve got eight horses for him so he’s my biggest owner and he’s really starting to enjoy all this.
“Actually, it’s been a couple of good weeks for me,” Granitz said. “I won a race down at Churchill last Sunday with (Kendal Standlee and Richard Schultz’s) North of Never and I’m sending my mare (World Thoroughbreds Racing’s) Yournotthebossofme up to Iowa this weekend for a stakes up at Prairie Meadows. She was third in the Prairie Rose there last month and third in the Minaret Stakes down in Tampa last winter.
“I’ve been going down to Florida for about the last five winters now to race at Tampa and that’s worked out well for me because I bring them back fresh and ready to go at Arlington,” Granitz said. “Also, I keep about eight to ten horses at the tracks in Indiana because they are Indiana-breds and I like to cover all my bases.”
Among the other bases Granitz covers with singular dedication is as president of the Arlington chapter of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.
“A lot of people on the racetrack need some help,” Granitz said. “We’ve had a lot of success pointing them in the right direction and I’m very gratified when we are able to do that. I also served as a prison minister at the Cook County Jail for five years and I think we helped a lot of people there, too. They needed help as well and were always very thankful to see us come.
“I had to give that up recently because of family obligations” concluded Granitz. “My wife Joy and I have three daughters. Tiffany is 22 and she just graduated from school is now a registered nurse. Taylor is 20 and she’s in nursing school, and our youngest daughter Marcela is a 7-year-old about to start in second grade, so we’ve got a lot of things going on right now.”
HERE COMES FRAZIER SETTLING IN AT HEART OF TUCSON
Magdalena Racing’s Here Comes Frazier is settling in nicely at Heart of Tucson after arriving at the Arizona retirement home for Thoroughbreds last weekend, according to Donna Frazier.
Here Comes Frazier, renamed for the late longtime Arlington horse owner Bruce Frazier just days after his owner’s death, scored his maiden win at first asking last Labor Day at Arlington with his suddenly widowed wife Donna on hand for the emotional event. However, the horse suffered a life-threatening fractured rear hock in his second start last fall and has spent most of the last year in recovery.
Videos of Here Comes Frazier’s arrival in Arizona and his introduction to his new friend Domino can be accessed through http://www.heartoftucson.org/blog.