Team Legends took a big hit Wednesday when it was announced that 72-year-old Jean Cruguet wouldn't be competing in Friday's running of the Arlington Jockey Challenge due to an illness.
Cruguet was among the star attractions for a Legends team that includes Earlie Fires, Mark Guidry, Chris McCarron and Patti Cooksey. He was set to become one of the oldest -- if not the oldest -- jockeys to ride in a pari-mutuel race in the United States.
Contact information ( * required )
It's a blow for Arlington but also a blow for Cruguet, who was looking forward to coming out of retirement at Arlington Park.
"Physically, I'm in pretty good shape," Cruguet said last week. "I was in Ocala (Florida) last winter and got on some horses, and I got on one or two in Kentucky this spring for five-furlong breezes. Also, I run a mile and a half every morning so I'm feeling fit enough to get a horse around the track."
Likely to replace Cruguet on the Legends Team will be former Arlington rider Zoe Cadman.
British-born Hayley Turner, easily the most successful female jockey in European racing history, will make her Midwestern riding debut in the Arlington Million.
Turner, 28, will become the fourth female jockey -- and second native of Great Britain -- to have a mount in the Million when she rides the Irish-bred Wigmore Hall.
Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone became the first in 1991 when she guided Chenin Blanc to a fourth-place finish. Great Britain's Gay Kelleway rode John Rose to a 12th-place finish in 1992 aboard a horse trained by her father, the late Paul Kelleway.
All accounted for:
All of the international horses are now on the grounds at Arlington Park. The final two to arrive early Wednesday morning were Million favotite Cape Blanco (9-5) and Secretariat favorite Treasure Beach (2-1).
While the focus this weekend at Arlington Park centers on Saturday's festivities -- particularly the Festival of Racing -- Friday won't be too shabby itself.
It begins with Breakfast at Arlington (7:30-9:30 a.m), featuring many of the Festival's big hitters, and winds up with a 10-race card featuring a pair of $60,000 stakes races and the Arlington Jockey Challenge.
He said it:
"I could never beat the top three golfers of the time -- Gary Player, Arnold Palmaer and Jack Nicklaus. That was like a lightweight going up against heavyweights."
-- Cedrick Amm, owner of River Jetez (Beverly D.) and a former professional golfer on the South African tour.