Off in pursuit of the filly went Arlington outrider Vicki Vise and her trusted pony “L. S.” Along with local fellow outriders Juan Francisco “Pancho” Lopez, Alan Love Jr. and Roberto Martinez, the foursome serve something like traffic cops for any errant equines before and after each race during Arlington’s racing afternoons.
“I have no idea what spooked her,” said Vise between the races the next day, “but with fillies you have to be careful. You have to try and keep them from panicking and hurting themselves seriously. Fortunately, that filly came back fine.
“I owe it all to him,” Vise said, with a nod in the direction of L. S., who had performed like a kind of equine big brother to young filly throughout her ordeal. “I’ll give the filly some credit. She stayed right there with us and he’s very good at his job. We make a good team.”
That’s for sure, to which anyone who witnessed Vise’s display of horsemanship would be able to attest.
“The outriders we have here at Arlington right now are all very good,” said Arlington clocker Bobby Belpedio, who has been observing horses and outriders during morning training hours for more than four decades. “I think this particular group might be the best we’ve ever had at Arlington.”
However, what still remains an unexplained rarity is a female in the under-appreciated and often dangerous outrider profession.
“I’m from central Kentucky, just north of Lexington, and I grew up riding horses,” said Vise. “I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but I was training horses at Turfway when my mentor Joe Riggs, who was an outrider at Keeneland for 37 years, starting teaching me how to do what I do now. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. He wanted to see a female get into the business. Up until then, I think the only female who was an outrider might have been Joe’s wife, and she just helped him out occasionally. There are still not that many of us.
“I’ve been doing this since 2001, Vise concluded. “When Arlington ends, I go home to Lexington and turn my horses out for awhile, then I go on to Gulfstream and serve as an outrider down there during the winter. When that season ends, I come back up here. It’s certainly not an easy life – it’s tough – but I love it.”
TRAINING TRIPLE FOR ‘CAT’ FRIDAY AS MENA SCORES RIDING HAT TRICK
With a training triple Friday at Arlington, Wayne Catalano led his closest pursuer by 17 wins as he closes in on his 10th training title at the Chicago Thoroughbred oval that brings down the curtain of its 2012 season on Sept. 30.
Catalano, who ranks second behind Richard Hazelton among Arlington’s all-time leading conditioners, saddled Tom McCrocklin and Wella Ye’s I Got Rhythm to win Friday’s second race, Joseph Allen’s State to capture the sixth and then posed in the winner’s circle with Half Hollow Racing’s Piratesinparadise after the eighth event.
Jockey Miguel Mena scored a riding triple Friday, piloting both State and Piratesinparadise to victory for Catalano and then returned to the winner’s circle as the adjudged winner of Friday’s finale with Dennis Foster and Rawleigh Rails’ Temparnillo for conditioner Randy Martin.