Will More Than Able win Sunday’s second race at Arlington Park for a group of everyday people who wanted to experience the thrill of owning a horse?
Trainer Jan Ely thinks so. “He’s wild and dangerous this morning,” said Ely during training hours Sunday. “He knows he’s in today. Cheer us on!”
“Us,” it turns out, is a diverse group of people who always wanted to own and race a Thoroughbred but did not necessarily have the means to be one’s sole support. The group came together in stages – almost by accident – before assembling under the banner of the S.M.I.L.E Stable. The partnership has been a lot of fun for each of them even though More Than Able has yet to visit the winner’s circle.
“Last night, I went by the barn to visit him after (Saturday’s) races,” said Starykowicz as she ironed her Sunday race day outfit at her Indiana home in anticipation of More Than Able’s afternoon challenge. “He was playing with his favorite toys as I fed him some peppermints. You should have seen him. He was really a happy horse.
“I’ll be leaving for Arlington shortly,” Starykowicz concluded. “It takes a while for me to get there from where I live, but I’m really looking forward to the day.”
Also expected to watch More Than Ready run Sunday are fellow owner Kim Molinaro, Rob McKenzie, Bruce Irti, and Darrell Luxmore. The group was assembled gradually after trainer Ely went to Ocala, Florida, and bought More Than Able as a 2-year-old. Eventually, Luxmore bought a piece of the horse. McKenzie and Molinaro were added to the group, and Starykowicz and Irti went in together to split a small percentage.
Bob Molinaro, father of Kim, thought of the name “S.M.I.L.E.” to encompass the first letter of the last names of each member of the group – “S” for Starykowicz through “E” for Ely.
In his four previous Arlington starts this season, More Than Able finished fourth May 3, second May 31, third June 28, and third once again July 26. In that last trip to the post, the horse got checked in traffic and then lost ground and momentum after having angle to the outside.
“You never really know what’s going to happen during a race,” said trainer Ely, “and I make sure they are all aware of that. But he’s feeling good today, and that’s always a good sign, and I’ve looked at the other horses in the race. There are a couple of horses in there who could give us some trouble, but nevertheless, today looks like a good spot for him.”
MR. NIGHTLINGER NOW CALIFORNIA DREAMING
After winning Saturday’s $200,000 Arlington Sprint, Martin Racing Stable and Carl Moore Management’s Mr. Nightlinger earned an automatic starting berth in the $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
Between now and then, the 4-year-old son of Indian Charlie could search for additional California gold during Oak Tree’s Grade III Morvich Handicap Sept. 24 to get a feel of Santa Anita’s turf course, but the ultimate goal remains the Breeders’ Cup.
William and Stephanie Martin of Martin Racing, along with Bentry Farms and Paula Capestro, were hoping to go to the Breeders’ Cup last year with a mare named River’s Prayer, who was pointing for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. However, that mare suffered career-ending injuries after winning Calder’s Grade I Princess Rooney Handicap and Del Mar’s Grade III Redondo Beach Handicap.
MEIER, MEIER AND MEIER WIN AT ARLINGTON SATURDAY
Arlington’s leading apprentice jockey Brandon Meier, 20, won the second half of Saturday’s Daily Double at Arlington Park aboard John Conforti’s Buddy’s Bomber.
Two races later, veteran Illinois reinsman Randy Meier, Brandon’s father, won the fourth race of the afternoon on Richard Glander’s Brunzer for conditioner Kerry Zavash.
Then, in the fifth race, Elk Grove Village-born Brandon returned to the winner’s circle astride Dee Poulos-trained Royal Amelia, owned by Ervin and Barbara Frejlach and Earnie Poulos Racing Stable.
The two wins Saturday gave Brandon Meier riding doubles on consecutive days, but also scoring a riding double Saturday was teenage jockey Tanner Riggs, who used his talents to give Dream Walkin Farms’ and Don Von Hemel an owner-trainer double with Goodson in the sixth and Mrs. Cindy’s Walkin in the eighth race of the afternoon.