As a single parent with an 8-year-old daughter Tori at home on her farm in downstate Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and a relatively small stable to oversee, you wouldn’t think that trainer Kim Lunsford would have had the time to bring her horses to Arlington for the first time this summer.
Nevertheless, there she was, proudly posing in the winner’s circle during the first week of September along with owner Tom Rinaudo and the 3-year-old filly Lady Haddassah, who had just won a one-mile turf test on Thoroughbred racing’s center stage in Chicago. Lunsford had claimed Lady Haddassah for Rinaudo out of a winning race over Churchill’s Louisville lawn last spring, but her September tally was the first in three starts for her new connections.
As a native of St. Louis, Missouri, Lunsford was in the midst of a successful career in advertising, working for the agency that had the massive Anheuser-Busch account.
“I did office work for several years, but over time I got tired of it,” said Lunsford. “I wanted to try something new. I’d gone to the races at Fairmount a lot, and I really loved horses, and that’s how this all got started.”
Somewhat of a courageous decision, one would think.
“Either a very courageous one, or a very stupid one,” Lunsford said. “I don’t have much free time anymore, and I don’t have any benefits anymore, but I do absolutely love what I do.”
That involves leaving Arlington on its non-racing days and making the weekly drive downstate to the farm where she keeps a couple of broodmares.
“I got my first trainer’s license in 1989,” Lunsford said. “That’s how I first met my ex- husband. In those days he was a jockey but now he trains horses, too. We had three children who are now grown – Dustin, 30; Neil, 27; and Katie, 21 - and two granddaughters as well.”
Although she doesn’t look old enough to have grandchildren, Lunsford admits to being 50 years old.
“Why should I try to keep that a secret?” Lunsford said. “What’s the point in doing that?
“I’ve raced at Tampa, Calder and Hialeah in the past,” Lunsford said, “and I’ve held a trainer’s license in Kentucky for quite awhile, but I didn’t take out my license in Illinois until a little over three months ago.
“I won my first race at Arlington in July with a filly named Remembermealways, who is also owned by Tom,” Lunsford said. “He’s the only owner I have. I’ve known him for 14 years now – but believe me – most of the time he’s like having 20 owners. He calls me seven days a week, multiple times every day and a lot of times we don’t agree on things. It’s almost like we’re a family the way we argue with each other.
“And now,” Lunsford concluded, speaking in perhaps only seemingly frustrated tones, “now he’s learning how to text.”
PAT DAY HAD HIS BIGGEST DAY AT ARLINGTON 23 YEARS AGO
Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, who won the 1994 Arlington Million on Masayuki Nishiyama’s Paradise Creek and also four Arlington jockey championships over the course of his career, celebrated his biggest day at Arlington 23 years ago on September 13, 1989, when he won eight of the afternoon’s nine races and finished second in the only other race of the day during the initial season of Arlington’s rebuilt facility.
REMINDER: FRIDAY’S POST TIME NOW 2 P.M.
Due to September’s waning daylight hours, Arlington guests and fans of Arlington’s simulcast signal are reminded that Friday’s remaining scheduled twilight racing programs will begin with a first race post of 2 p.m.
Arlington’s 2012 racing season comes to a close on Sunday, September 30.