Red-hot jockey Inez Karlsson, who won the first race of her career shortly before Arlington Park’s 2007 season ended, rode three more winners Saturday to continue her quest for leading apprentice honors at the meeting.
Fellow apprentice Brandon Meier, who quickly built a seemingly insurmountable number of Arlington victories after breaking his maiden with his first career mount earlier this season, was shut out Saturday to remain at 52 wins, while Karlsson narrowed the gap to be credited with 46 wins through Saturday’s races.
Including Sunday’s racing program, there are 14 racing days left in the 2008 Arlington meeting, which concludes Sept. 21.
“I’ve had an amazing summer – far better than I ever dreamed of,” said Karlsson. “It’s been crazy. It was very slow for me the first month or so while Brandon was piling up all those wins, but things really took off for me since I got lucky and started riding for (trainer) Frank (Kirby). I’m very pleased I’ve been able to do as well as I have.”
Two-time Arlington trainer champion Kirby gave Karlsson a leg up on Hondo Ranch and Richard Zirngibl III’s Bolder Course in Saturday’s opener resulting in a length and a quarter victory. Then, jockey Karlsson completed both halves of the Daily Double by riding Tim Cook’s Country Town to tally in the second race for conditioner Ron Goodridge.
Karlsson completed her “hat trick” by riding Feel The Thunder Stables’ Petruchio to victory in the fourth race of the day for trainer Mike Stidham.
BLOCK BUILDS TOWARD COMING WEEKEND WITH TWO SUNDAY BREEZES
Virginia Tarra Trust’s Apple Martini breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 Sunday morning at Arlington in preparation this Saturday’s Grade III Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs over Arlington’s world-famous turf course.
Also during training hours Sunday, Thomas Fedro Sr. and Team Block’s Free Fighter breezed that same distance in 1:02.20 in preparation for Saturday’s $50,000 Honor Glide Stakes at a mile and an eighth over the local lawn.
Both Apple Martini and Free Fighter are trained by Chris Block, currently runner-up in the Arlington Park trainer standings this season.
“I thought both of them worked well,” said Block later in the morning, “and right now we plan on running both of them this weekend.”
Apple Martini, an Illinois-bred daughter of Giant’s Causeway, finished third beaten less than four lengths in the Grade III Arlington Oaks at last asking Aug. 2, but captured the $88,400 Purple Violet Stakes June 21 on Prairie State Festival Day when facing state-bred rivals.
“We’re going in a little deep with Apple Martini in the Pucker Up,” said Block. “This is probably one of the strongest Pucker Up fields I can ever remember seeing here, but she’s doing good right now and we figured we’d try and take a step up with her and see how she handles herself against this kind of competition.”
Free Fighter, an Illinois-bred sophomore, won his last start in second-level allowance company by seven lengths on July 30 over Arlington’s Polytrack course, and was a good third before that on July 5 in Canterbury’s $50,000 Come Summer Stakes over the Minnesota grass.
“Free Fighter has plenty of room to improve this weekend in the Honor Glide,” Block added. “We need to get things back on track with him. We had him going right in Louisiana this winter (where he won a first level allowance race on the grass by four and a quarter lengths on Feb. 11), but then we sent him to Kentucky and ended up running him in a stakes race where he didn’t belong.
“It’s time for him to show us what kind of a horse he is,” said Block. “He’s by Out of Place, and they tend to get a little better when they get older, so now could be the time that he begins to improve. Hopefully, he’ll turn out to be at least a very useful Illinois-bred, and maybe he can still improve enough to be a good horse in open company.”
MELISSA MCGURREN AT ARLINGTON PARK THIS SATURDAY
Melissa McGurren from “The Eric & Kathy Show” on WTMX will be at Arlington Park this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. as part of Arlington’s “Ladies Day” festivities.