ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- According to the figures – the Beyer Speed Figures, at least – Larry Rivelli has another really fast horse.
May 1 at Arlington, Rivelli sent out a 5-year-old entire horse named Azrael to make his first start for a claiming tag and first over a synthetic surface. Azrael, from all appearances, greatly appreciated both new circumstances, going to the lead and drawing away to a 14-length win. His time of 1:09.89 for six furlongs yielded a Beyer Speed Figure of 105.
If that seems high, well, it is. It’s the highest synthetic-surface Beyer of 2021, higher than anything from 2020, and, in fact, the highest such figure since May 2019, when the Rivelli-trained Wellabled posted a 106 in an Arlington romp.
“I guess all my horses love this track – or at least most of them do,” Rivelli said.
An easy lead on a class drop can make a horse look better than he really is, and to be frank, Azrael’s performance has “fluke” written all over it. His previous high Beyer was an 89, and in his start prior to the Arlington romp, Azrael had been beaten more than 11 lengths in a first-level allowance race at Keeneland. “We’re going to wait and see if he can do it again,” Rivelli said.
The wait ends Saturday, when Azrael starts in race 6 at Arlington, another six-furlong Polytrack sprint, this one open to $20,000 claimers or first-level allowance horses; Rivelli and owner Doubledown Stables, unsurprisingly, use the allowance condition after their horse’s explosive showing.
“I think it was a very generous Beyer, but I hope it’s right,” said Rivelli. “It was a weird day; the wind was blowing so hard into their face down the stretch, and everyone was running three quarters in like 1:12. I will say that he was cut out to be a nice horse, and he worked really good on the Poly, which is why we tried it.”
Rivelli entered the third week of the Arlington season perched, as expected, atop the trainer standings, his stable having produced a mark of 21-8-3-3 through the first six days of racing this spring. That’s a fine record by general standards, but, in truth, the Rivelli operation has felt a little slower than usual compared to recent early Arlington seasons.
“I have so many horses here, but the better races aren’t going. I’ve had to take a couple Kentucky-breds to run at Churchill, and I’ve run some in Indiana. When they start adding race days, that’s really going to help me,” Rivelli said.
Jean Elizabeth readying for comeback; Good Bye Greg now a stallion
Jean Elizabeth, one of the better Illinois-bred racehorses of recent seasons, hasn’t raced since last June 20, but trainer Larry Rivelli said the 6-year-old mare’s racing days aren’t yet behind her. Rivelli, reached on Thursday, had just returned to Chicagoland from Ocala, Florida, where he looked in on some of his stock, Jean Elizabeth among them.
“I just watched her train today. She’ll be back in the barn in about a month,” Rivelli said.
Jean Elizabeth has won 15 of 21 career starts and is approaching $700,000 in purse earnings. She’s on an eight-race winning streak that ran through the Grade 3 Whimsical at Woodbine about 11 months ago, after which Jean Elizabeth required time off for an injury.
“She had a little bit of a ligament and tendon issue, originally thought to be a bigger problem than it was,” said Rivelli. “We took double time to make sure she was healed, and if we see one thing going wrong, we just breed her. She doesn’t owe us anything. Right now, there are a couple Illinois-bred bred stakes mid-summer we’re looking at.”
Jean Elizabeth is by Adios Charlie out of Rooney Doodle. Rivelli co-bred her with Richard Ravin, and Ravin co-owns her with Vince Foglia’s Patricia’s Hope. Rooney Doodle, by Lit de Justice, also has produced multiple stakes-winner Dugout, a winner of more than a half-million dollars, as well as three more horses – What’s Up Dude, Unscathed, and Hollarforadollar – with earnings of at least $175,000.
Meanwhile, there will be no more Arlington starts for local mini-legend Good Bye Greg, a 10-year-old son of Teuflesberg who won his career debut by 14 lengths way back in May 2014. Plagued by soundness issues throughout his career, Good Bye Greg wound up with only 27 starts through seven years of racing but was a mainstay each summer at Arlington. Good Bye Greg won at least one Arlington race in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 before finishing second twice in 2019. During the abbreviated 2020 season, Good Bye Greg notched one final local win.
“We finally retired him. We’re standing him at stud in Ocala, breeding a few mares to him,” Rivelli said.
So, it’s finally, ‘Goodbye, Greg.”
Jockey colony makeover
You’re forgiven, Chicago racing person, for not recognizing several of the folks riding the horses in races this spring at Arlington.
Here’s at least a partial list, starting with the highest win totals (three) so far this season, of jockeys hanging their tack in Arlington Heights for the first time: Sammy Camacho Jr., Declan Carroll, Isaiah Wiseman, Pablo Morales, and Eduardo Gallardo.
Declan Carroll is among the trio of newcomers with three winners, though two of his winners came opening week, and Carroll has managed just one winner from his last 19 mounts. Still, Carroll is just 21, getting to know the Arlington main track and turf course for the first time, and his long successful agent, Penny Ffitch-Heyes, will get him on a sufficient number of live mounts to give Carroll a solid chance to latch on here.
Carroll has been riding the tough Kentucky and Louisiana circuit since taking out his jockey’s license two-and-a-half years ago. This past winter he struggled through a tough season at Fair Grounds; Chicago represents a chance to turn things around.
“Hopefully I can have a good meet. I really just need the chance to ride right now,” Carroll said. “I do love Arlington. Obviously, the turf course is phenomenal. The Poly, that probably needs to be redone. It’s been very slow, just doesn’t have a lot of bounce to it.”
Carroll is the son of David and Kim Carroll, brother to Aisling, the entire family riders. Aisling does eventing, while David, a former head trainer, is a main assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. Kim Carroll is an exercise rider for the Casse stable. David Carroll, a native of Ireland, where he rode races himself, first gained exposure as the exercise rider for the great racehorse Easy Goer, who battled Sunday Silence through an epic 1989 Triple Crown series.
Chlobee is a 15-1 shot in the seventh race Saturday at Arlington. Don’t let that stop you from betting her.
Eight-year-old Chlobee, an Illinois-bred owned and trained by Ida Spagnola, has been racing since August 16. Thirty-five starts into her career she’s a four-time winner, and Chlobee never has not lit up the board when she’s won.
In her maiden victory, in May 2017, she was a 104-1 shot. She won again later that meet, in September, at a relatively sedate 12-1. By May 2018, everyone, apparently, had forgotten all about Chlobee, who scored in an Arlington turf race at 36-1. June 2019 and Chlobee did it again, sneaking home by a head at 16-1.
A $2 win bet on Chlobee in all her races would have cost a wagerer $70 and returned a total of $344. Here’s hoping Ida got down for at least ten times that amount.
And another thing: Chlobee got in a needed comeback race last month at Hawthorne racing better horses than she meets Saturday. Ignore her at your own peril.