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Backstretch Buzz

Good Bye Greg; Puntsville; Grey Mensch

Good Bye, Greg


Race 4 Goodbye Greg

Good Bye Greg might well have made the last start of his 2017 campaign when he won the Jeff Lynn Memorial Stakes on Saturday by 6 ½ lengths. If so, the race capped a perfect three-start season for Good Bye Greg, an absolute terror on Arlington’s Polytrack.

Owing to soundness concerns, 6-year-old Good Bye Greg has rested as much as he has raced during a four-year career, but when he runs, he really runs. The win in the Lynn gave Good Bye Greg three wins from three races this summer at Arlington, where he has notched seven wins, a second, and a third from nine starts – all allowance races or stakes -- during his career.

Goneghost, an ascendant 4-year-old, tried to pressure Good Bye Greg early in Saturday’s race, but that turned out to be a bad idea. Goneghost tired and faded to third while Good Bye Greg continued on stoutly. He went six furlongs in 1:09.82, good for a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure.

“That might be it for this year,” said Larry Rivelli, who trains Good Bye Greg for Vince Foglia’s Patricia’s Hope LLC. “We might just put him away and get him ready for next year.”

Goneghost proved no match for Good Bye Greg but his stable-mate, Shogood, might have given Good Bye Greg a run for his money Saturday. Like Goneghost, Shogood is owned by William Stiritz and trained by Scott Becker, and while his connections entered him in the Jeff Lynn, they opted instead for an Illinois-bred allowance race Saturday. Shogood crushed his rivals. He won by 10 ½ lengths while appearing well within himself, and his six-furlong Polytrack time of 1:09.85 produced a career-best Beyer figure of 98.

Race 2 Shogood

Shogood is by Nobiz Like Shobiz and out of Good and Rough, and at 4, unlike Good Bye Greg, it’s possible his best racing might still be in front of him.

Puntsville Still Going For It

Another Illinois-bred, Puntsville, comfortably took care of open overnight stakes competition Saturday in the Richie Scherer Memorial, winning by 2 ½ lengths after breaking like a rocket and opening a commanding lead at the top of the stretch.

Puntsville now has won half her 20 career starts, is a six-time winner from 11 Arlington races on turf and Polytrack, and has three wins and a second from her four starts this year at age 5. The mare appears to be at least as good as ever, and trainer Michele Boyce hopes to race her again somewhere and sometime this fall.

Race 6 Puntsville


And if things go as planned, Puntsville’s run won’t end there, either. Steve Holland, who bred and owns Puntsville in partnership with his wife, Diania, under the S.D. Brilie Limited Partnership banner, said Saturday the plan is to campaign the mare again in 2018.

The Hollands and Boyce also have another good horse, Devileye, who has started his career with five wins. Both horses were produced by the mare Deville, but Holland, asked whether Deville still was bearing Illinois-bred foals, smiled and shook his head.

Before Puntsville hit as a stakes horse, and without any real evidence she would prove such a successful broodmare, Deville was sold. “I think she’s in Korea,” Holland said.

There still is one more Deville baby stabled in Chicago, the 2-year-old Speed Devil. Speed Devil raced greenly and didn’t show her best but still finished third in her career debut Aug. 20 at Arlington. The filly might still have much to learn, but genetics are on her side.

Gray Mensch Solid All Summer

The 7-year-old gelding Gray Mensch won two races in his first 29 starts, then ripped off two victories in less than two weeks during July racing at Arlington. With racehorses, the general rule is what  goes up must come down, meaning the best two-race stretch of Gray Mensch’s career should naturally have been followed by a form trough.

But that’s not the way it turned out. Gray Mensch finished third on Aug. 4, second on Aug. 26, and a tiny nostril away from a victory in the fifth race Saturday. The gelding got in seven starts during the five-month Arlington season and ran his best or close to it in all of them, earning more $42,000 after banking less than $10,000 all of 2016. Gray Mensch alone surely made the summer sweet for Chris Ryan, who owns and trains a gelding that blossomed late in his racehorse life.

A Trend Broken

Sean Cowan, the son of trainer Jon Cowan, reached out Friday with a question. Garrison K, a first-time-starting 2-year-old, had won his career debut at Arlington earlier that day in race 2. How long, the younger Cowan wondered, had it been since his dad had won with a first-time starter at Arlington?

Answer: A long time.

Cowan has been racing at Arlington since 1991. He sent out his first Arlington debut runner in 1993, and Garrison K was his 23rd such starter. None of the previous 22 had won.

Oddly, a similar situation arose just two races later. In the fourth race Friday, Heaven’s Whisper, a first-time-starting 2-year-old, gave Louie Roussel his 1000th win as a trainer. She also was Roussels first winning debut runner at Arlington since 2003.

***Apprentice jockey Carlos Ulloa returned from a broken collarbone on Thursday and won with his first starter, Away She Glows in race 1. 

Race 1 Away She Glows

Photos courtesy of Four Footed Fotos