August trainer-of-the-month honors at Arlington were a slam dunk for veteran locally-based conditioner Dale Bennett, who will be presented with that award on Sept. 7.
What he did to earn them was make seven trips to the winner’s circle from the 14 starters he saddled during that time period – an impressive 50 percent win ratio – but the 2012 racing season for Bennett didn’t begin with anything like that kind of success.
“Hawthorne was horrible for me this spring,” Bennett said. “It seemed like all my horses got sick at the same time, probably because the weather was warmer than usual and then suddenly it got cold, and a lot of them were still not doing well when the Arlington meeting got going.”
Statistics back up Bennett’s slow start here. By the end of May, the barn had registered an anemic-looking four wins, and by the end of June he had only posed in the winner’s circle six times, but when July rolled around and Bennett (lordy, lordy) turned 40 – the barn began to get as hot as this summer’s weather – doubling that win total by the end of the month.
August, of course, was trainer-of-the-month time, and by the first day of September, Bennett’s barn was credited with 19 wins – equaling his win total tallied during Arlington’s entire season last summer.
“I’m hoping things continue to go well for us in September,” Bennett said of the Arlington season which ends on the last day of the month. “I’ve got some nice 2-year-olds that haven’t even started yet, and I’ve also still got some horses with conditions, so we should be in good shape the rest of the way. As for the slow start, that’s just the way it is in this business.”
As the son of longtime Michigan-based trainer Gerald Bennett, Dale was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up around horses while spending much of his youth on a farm near Campbellville, Ontario, with horses that were lay-ups. After graduating high school, the younger Bennett went to work for his father, hot-walked for a couple of years and then groomed for another eight before taking out his own license in 1998 in time to saddle his first winner as a 25-year-old.
Finally, although his career is obviously on an upward cycle now, it should be remembered that Bennett’s past successes include a course-record setting win by Marley’s Revenge, racing in the silks of Tom Fedro and Darrell and Sadie Brommer, in the 2004 edition of Arlington’s $42,000 Taylor’s Special Stakes, as well as a victory by Peter Karaholis’s Public Speaker in Arlington’s $100,000 Sea o’ Erin in the summer of 2009.
TORRES TRIPLES TO TAKE SIX-WIN LEAD IN JOCKEY STANDINGS
Veteran Chicago-raised reins master Francisco Torres, in pursuit of his first riding championship at his hometown oval at 43-years-of age, rode three winners Saturday to take a sudden six-win lead in Arlington’s jockey standings at the end of the September 1 race-day.
Highlighting his hat-trick was Torres’ win aboard G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and St. George Farm Racing’s Middie in Saturday’s 79th running of the Grade III Washington Park Handicap for Kentucky-based conditioner Phil Oliver.
Earlier in the afternoon, Torres won the fifth race on Richard Glander’s Specialist for trainer Danny Miller and concluded his three-win afternoon in the eighth race aboard Charles Sigrist and Del Sol Farm’s Chas The Man to give Moises Yanez a training double for the day.