Jockey Inez Karlsson bulled her way to Arlington’s leading apprentice honors last year with a determined closing drive during the waning days of September. Then she continued that rally on the south of town to capture Hawthorne’s leading rider honors last winter.
But could she keep that pace going after losing the benefit of the weight allowance? Turned out not to be a problem at all. The newly-turned 26-year-old Swedish native battled veteran journeyman Tim Thornton for leading jockey honors at the recently-completed Hawthorne spring session before being narrowly bested on the last day of the season.
“However, being nominated for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading apprentice and getting invited to the Eclipse Awards dinner was very exciting,” said Karlsson. “Even though I finished second in the voting for the award I really enjoyed myself.
“I had 10 less than wins than (Eclipse Award Winner Pascacio Lopez) but I made more money in purses,” Karlsson said. “It didn’t matter that I didn’t win. I still had a wonderful time going to the dinner.
“But the best thing about my time in Florida this winter was being around all those really top riders,” Karlsson said. “Guys like Edgar Prado go out of their way to help you become a better rider and I really appreciated getting to meet people like that and getting advice from them. I think I’d like to go back down there to ride next winter.
“Naturally, I’m really looking forward to getting off to a fast start at Arlington this season,” Karlsson said. “Riding a lot for Mr. (Frank) Kirby should help me do that. I don’t think he’s ever won as many races as he did at Hawthorne this spring, and he’s got a lot more good ones that are getting ready for the Arlington meeting.
“Also I get to ride a very nice horse (morning line favorite Lissa’s Star) in the featured ($50,000 Timeless Native) stakes on opening day Friday at Arlington,” Karlsson said. “He’s won his last three races with me aboard. In that last race (Hawthorne’s $51,000 Hula Chief Stakes March 14) he took off in the stretch and won by more than 10 lengths. In the lane I was looking around to see who was coming up behind me and there was no one there. I remember thinking, ‘Where’d everybody go?’ I expect him to run very well Friday.”
CORAGIL CAT PURRS OVER POLYTRACK
Morning line third choice at 4-1 for Arlington’s $50,000 Timeless Native Stakes on opening day is Jim Tafel’s Coragil Cat, who won last year’s Timeless Native by 2 ¼-lengths and then went on to win Arlington’s Grade III Hanshin Stakes by three lengths – both over Arlington’s Polytrack course.
“I expect him to run well,” said trainer Greg Geier Thursday morning. “He worked very well the other day (a half in :47.40 handily April 25), and he’s always liked this course here.”
In his most recent start, Coragil Cat finished sixth in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Mineshaft Handicap Feb. 7 on Louisiana Derby Preview Day. Spanish-born jockey Diego Sanchez, aboard for last year’s Timeless Native, returns in the irons Friday.
FREE FIGHTER FAVORED IN SATURDAY’S $100,000 ILLINOIS OWNERS STAKES
Thomas Fedro and Team Block’s Free Fighter, a five-length winner in his last trip to the post over the Stall-Wilson turf course at Fair Grounds March 8, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice for Saturday’s featured $100,000 Richard Radke Illinois Owners Stakes at Arlington Park.
The local feature on Kentucky Derby Day has attracted a field of eight and is slated for 1 1/16-miles over the Arlington lawn. The race is restricted to horses whose recorded ownership is registered at least 51 percent to an owner whose Illinois Racing Board License Registration reflects an address in the State of Illinois.
Team Block’s Fort Prado, winner of the 2007 Illinois Owners Stakes, is the 3-1 second choice for Saturday’s renewal.
YOUBET.COM TO CARRY ARLINGTON SIGNAL THIS SEASON
The Arlington Park signal will be carried by Youbet.com beginning with Arlington’s opening day program Friday.