By Bailey Gallison —-
• Sofia Rodriguez Gets First North American Win
• Local Runners Under Consideration for Million Preview Day
SOFIA RODRIGUEZ GETS FIRST NORTH AMERICAN WIN
New addition to the Arlington jockey colony Sofia Rodriguez rode her first North American winner in Saturday’s first race aboard Thomas Kassel and Juan Perez’s Nicolas Perez-trainee Bartbaalu, a 6-year-old gelding making his 38th lifetime start against maidens. The 21-year-old Rodriguez settled her charge along the rail a length off the pacesetter in the early running of the six-furlong race over the Polytrack. Turning for home, Rodriguez went to the lead and urged Bartbaalu to engage with the betting favorite who had moved up to duel the pair. Rodriguez was able to get her mount to the wire first, three-quarter lengths the best at odds of 25-1.
“I rode 48 winners in Uruguay,” said Rodriguez after the race. “But this one is the most important to me by far.”
Born in the town of Bergamo in Northern Italy, Rodriguez moved to Uruguay at the age of 15 with her family. It was there that young Rodriguez was introduced to horses and decided on her future career.
“I became horse crazy at 16 and I decided I wanted to be a jockey,” said Rodriguez. “I started working at a horse farm, and one year later my parents took me to the track to see some races. Soon after I started working at the track, and then I rode my first race two years ago.”
Rodriguez rode for two years at Maronas Racecourse, the flagship track in Montevideo, Uruguay. It took her only four starts in the United States to land a winner.
“I always wanted to come to the United State to ride, but I didn’t know anyone here,” said Rodriguez. “I made a friend in Kentucky, and after a few months decided to move to Louisville. I lived there for one month before coming to Arlington to ride.”
“My dream is to ride in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Rodriguez when asked about her goals while riding in the states. “I hope to ride at Keeneland, too.”
LOCAL RUNNERS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR MILLION PREVIEW DAY
With a quartet of graded stakes to be run at Arlington International Racecourse on July 8, it is no surprise that horsemen stabled on the backside have an eye on Million Preview Day. Each of the four Grade III races worth $100,000 will offer the first three finishers entry with starting fees waived into the respective graded stakes on Arlington’s International Festival of Racing Aug. 12.
Trainer Chris Block is considering sending out his two recent stakes runners, Team Block’s Cammack and Darrell and Sadie Brommer’s Prado’s Sweet Ride. Multiple stakes winner Cammack, runner-up in the Black Tie Affair Handicap on June 17 over yielding turf, could contest the Grade III Arlington Handicap at 1 3/16-miles on the grass.
“Cammack loved the soft turf,” said Block. “He ran his race but just ran into a very good horse that day that wouldn’t be beat. Credit to Oak Brook and his connections for putting him up front on a soft pace. I used to train that horse, and he was overlooked by the bettors that day.”
Racing over the same course as Cammack one race earlier, Prado’s Sweet Ride spun her wheels in the wet grass as the even-money betting favorite and finished third in the Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap. Nominated to the Grade III Modesty Handicap, the Block runner could get a shot at a better footing in the 1 3/16-miles turf event if the weather cooperates.
“I think the extremely soft turf hurt her [chances] in that last race,” said Block. “She was due to run well. She came out of it fine.”
Another probable entry for the Arlington Handicap is Dundalk 5 LLC’s Grade III Hanshin Cup winner Crewman. A winner at Arlington when going one mile on the main track in the Hanshin May 11, the Dee Poulos trainee finished off the board in his most recent race over a good turf course at Canterbury Park.
“He runs well on the turf,” said Poulos. “He hasn’t won on it. His last race at Canterbury he got out of the gate bad, but then he ran okay for the 1 1/16 miles. He’ll need firm turf though. I know he won’t like it if it’s yielding.”
Trainer Wayne Catalano is keeping options open for Joe and Don Cochonour’s Isaac Murphy Stakes winner One Liz and Arapaho Royal LLC’s 2016 Mike Spellman Memorial winner Stormin Elle. One Liz flourished in her recent return to the Polytrack when notching her first stakes victory in the Isaac Murphy on June 10, but her past form over the turf at Arlington hints she could be up to the task. Stormin Elle holds four wins over the Arlington turf but failed to menace when trying to win the Mike Spellman Memorial a second time on June 17.
“We’ll certainly take a look at it,” said Catalano.