Queen of the Illinois-Breds / Good Bye Gregg / Ryan Barn Still Blessed

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Illinois – All due respect to the other Arlington outfits stocked with such horses, but trainer Michele Boyce is the queen of the Illinois-breds this summer.
Boyce’s bounty of Illinois-bred beasts burst out last weekend and the barrage still has ballast, with ballyhooed Blue Sky Kowboy going back into battle Friday. 
Blue Sky Kowboy still has a real chance to become the best Illinois-bred turf horse in training. He starts in Friday’s sixth race, a tough second-level allowance also open to $50,000 claimers and carded at one mile on turf. If the race winds up getting rained off grass, Boyce entered Devileye – already one of the best Illinois-breds in training – to run on Polytrack.
We’ll return to those two momentary, but first a look back to last Saturday, July 14. Boyce began her day winning Arlington’s first race with My Mertie, who managed to run down a loose-on-the-lead Jean Elizabeth – a top Illinois-bred 3-year-old – in a Polytrack allowance. It was My Mertie’s second Arlington allowance-race win in a row and the 6-year-old mare showed her versatility cutting back from a route to a sprint.
“She’s a very talented little filly,” Boyce said. “We’re finding as she gets older, she settles more.”
My Mertie has done fine work in her career, earning well over $200,000, but sits at the bottom of the stakes-level pecking order in Team Boyce. She is, however, part of a very nice direct female family with deep roots in the Boyce barn. My Mertie is by Kate the Great, a stakes winner whom Boyce also trained, and whose first foal to race was the Boyce-trained stakes winner, Katie the Lady. Katie the Lady raced into her 8-year-old season before being retired, and she now has foaled three horses, the first of whom Boyce expects to welcome into her barn sometime this year. 
Kate the Great’s last foal to race is none other than Blue Sky Kowboy, who is by the dirt sprinter-mile Kodiak Kowboy but, like his mother, prefers turf racing. Blue Sky Kowboy acted up before his first start, dwelt in the starting gate and finished fourth, but since then he has three wins, three seconds, and a third from seven turf starts. One of those wins came last fall in the $100,000 Hawthorne Derby, and none of them has featured a strong pace that would help this deep closer.
“I’d love to get him in a race with some speed in it. I think he’s a better horse than we’ve even seen yet. He’s overcome a lot of obstacles,” said Boyce.
My Mertie and Blue Sky Kowboy, owned by partnerships, were bred by the late Jack Barr’s Barr 3 LLC. 
“Kowboy was part of close to the last crop of horses Jack bred,” Boyce said. “When I went to look at the crop when he was a yearling, [Barr] took me out in a field and said, ‘Michele, I think this is the best one I’ve ever raised.’ I’m hoping to make that a true statement.”
Okay, so that’s one wing of Boyce’s Illinois-bred murderer’s row. Devileye, who would run Friday in the event of a rain-off and appears to be as talented as any horse in the barn, is part of another. He’s out of Deville and is one of three horses in the stable from that mare, all owned by S D Brillie LLC. Puntsville, the eldest of the siblings, is coming off her second straight win in the Hoist Her Flag Stakes at Canterbury Park; Boyce is looking for an August stakes in which to start this 6-year-old. Three-year-old Speed Devil disappointed in her first start this year and is ready to make her second in Sunday's sixth race. 
My Mertie won her Arlington race at 1:23 Central. A little less than eight hours late, Boyce watched from Chicagoland as the remarkable Lovely Loyree captured the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff at Indiana Grand for the second time in three years. Lovely Loyree had suffered through a troubled trip in the Lady Canterbury Stakes the same night Puntsville won the Hoist Her Flag, but Saturday night at Indiana Grand she got a dream run pressing a slow pace while in the clear and made the most of it following up on her 2016 win in the same race.
“I think she was kind of mad after what happened at Canterbury,” Boyce said.
Lovely Loyree now has an overall record of 8-4-5 from 23 starts and over $364,000 in career earnings. She also was bred by Barr 3 but is from a different line; her dam is Lil Cora Tee, whose sister was the multiple stakes winner Peyote Patty (and whose son Wile E Peyote is racing this summer at Arlington). Lovely Loyree, now a four-time stakes-winner, is Lil Cora Tee’s best offspring, and if all goes well, Boyce could race her again next year at 8.
“As long as she’s sound and happy I’m going to keep her running,” said Boyce. “She’s older, but I have a lot of seniors in my barn! I’m not much into 2-year-olds at all. I race my horses lightly. I have one goal when I train – I want to keep them happy and sound.”
It’s working.

Rivelli 2-year-olds running wild; Good Bye Greg returns

Larry Rivelli said at the start of the 2018 Arlington meet he had his strongest group of 2-year-olds this summer. He didn’t lie. 
Rivelli has started first-timers in five 2-year-old maiden races so far at the meet and won them all.
“I’m real loaded up this year,” Rivelli said. 
And they’re still coming. Rivelli entered a pair of first-time-starting 2-year-olds in the first race Saturday. He said he’ll scratch the Illinois-bred Ravin’s Treasure but Enzoexpress runs and probably will be favored under Jose Valdivia Jr. Enzoexpress is by Tapizar and out of Expressive Diva, making him a half-brother to Wellabled, who won the 2016 Arlington-Washington Futurity for Rivelli. 
“He’s a nice horse. He’s worked heads up with all of those 2-year-olds I’ve run already,” said Rivelli.
Enzoexpress might be no standout, however. Trainer Wayne Catalano counters with the once-started Manny Wah, who finished second to a promising horse named Fluminense in his June 30 debut at Churchill Downs. Manny Wah is the first foal to race out of Battlefield Angel, among whose brothers are Lookin at Lee, runner-up in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and 3-year-old Blended Citizen, a two-time graded-stakes winner this year.
Saturday’s fifth race marks the return of Arlington mini-legend Good Bye Greg. The 7-year-old made his career debut May 3, 2014 and won an Arlington maiden race on Polytrack by 13 lengths, and it has gone along similarly for the gelding every summer since. Good Bye Greg won one race during the 2015 meet, two during 2016, and three last year. His Arlington Polytrack record is a sparkling 7-1-1 from nine starts. 
Good Bye Greg is entered for a $50,000 claiming price in a five-furlong turf race. Rivelli is hoping for a rain-off onto Polytrack but said Good Bye Greg will start if the race stays on turf. Good Bye Greg takes a lot of work just to get sound enough and fit enough to race. 
“You can’t sit and wait when a horse gets four races a year. He’s ready to go, so he’s going to run,” said Rivelli.

Ryan barn still blessed by goose, still winning races

It was a little more than a year ago that a chicken hawk dropped what was supposed to be a tasty morsel, a gosling, onto the property of trainer Chris Ryan. 
The baby goose that fell from the sky coincided with the hottest Arlington streak of Ryan’s 17-season Arlington career. At the forefront of that streak was a horse named Grey Mensch, who sparked to the best form of his career at age 7 with two wins, three seconds, and a third during the 2017 meet. 
The gosling now is a goose. His name is Lucky. He so enjoys the company of the chickens and a turkey on Ryan’s farm that despite the ability to fly off into the wild any time he pleases, Lucky chooses to stay put. The goose is happy as a clam – and Grey Mensch is at it again. 
Grey Mensch ran perhaps the best race of his life June 30 winning an open first-level allowance race by three lengths. He returns in the fourth race Saturday and drops in class to face fellow Illinois-breds in a first-level, state-bred restricted allowance. The race is at six furlongs and Ryan said last year that Grey Mensch starts to fall apart every step beyond five. But it’s entirely possible Lucky the Goose will work his magic once again.

Liliia Reznikova-Vrublevska won the first North American race of her riding career when piloting Broth to an easy victory in the eighth race Thursday at Arlington. Reznikova-Vrublevska has so far ridden exclusively for the barn of trainer Pavel Vaschenko and Broth was her 14th mount since becoming a licensed North American jockey. Reznikova-Vrublevska is from Russia but said she rode more than 100 winners while based in Poland.