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posted: 8/17/2012 5:30 AM

Calabrese feeling at home at Arlington again

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  • Frank Calabrese, who returned to racing at Arlington Park this season, has a strong contender, Romacaca, in Saturday's Beverly D. stakes races.

      Frank Calabrese, who returned to racing at Arlington Park this season, has a strong contender, Romacaca, in Saturday's Beverly D. stakes races.
    Photo courtesy of Horsephotos.com/file

  • Jason Chiou/jchiou@dailyherald.com  Earlie Fires signs autographs for visitors at Arlington Park on Sunday for Earlie Fires Day. Fires has had about 6,500 wins at Arlington since 1965.

      Jason Chiou/jchiou@dailyherald.com Earlie Fires signs autographs for visitors at Arlington Park on Sunday for Earlie Fires Day. Fires has had about 6,500 wins at Arlington since 1965.

  • Video: American St. Leger preview

  • Video: Secretariat Stakes preview

  • Video: Beverly D. preview

  • Video: Arlington Million preview

 
 

Frank C. Calabrese will be back at Arlington Park this week watching as his mare Romacaca battles it out in Saturday's running of the Grade I Beverly D.

And the man who was the dominant owner at Arlington for a decade before a dispute with track officials led to him taking a majority of his string of horses to Florida a few years ago, admits that it's nice being back at the local oval.

"Oh, yeah," said Calabrese, who recently sold his house here. "I like Florida, I like the life down there, but I miss my family.

"I've got a lot of friends here. I've got one grandson here that I hang around with and when he's in, it makes it a lot easier."

Especially considering Calabrese has been suffering from an eye issue of late.

"I've been going to an eye institute in Miami and they keep injecting the eye," he said. "I have trouble driving."

Though Calabrese has a majority of his horses at Calder Racecourse, he has kept a small string at Arlington this summer -- under the guidance of trainer Danny Miller, including Romacaca.

He said Wednesday he's still unsure of his plans for 2013.

"I'll make up my mind next year whether I'm going to come back here or if I'm going to stay in Florida or if I'm going to get out of the business completely," he said. "If I can't start making money I'm out.

"At Calder, they give away no money. They've got one of the nicest casinos I've ever been in. They were supposed to get money from the casino to put in the horsemen's pot, but we haven't seen it."

But for now, Calabrese will just enjoy the moment Saturday afternoon as Romacaca goes for the biggest win of her already stellar career.

"I'm not too sure about all these Europeans horses in the race," he said. "I think Romacaca has the homefield advantage. She's here. She loves Arlington and she's run some big races at Arlington. Danny's put a lot of time into her."

Asked how he would handle the post-race hoopla a victory like that at Arlington would bring about, Calabrese had a simple answer:

"All I would say is that (track owner) Mr. D. (Duchossois) runs a good track," Calabrese said. "It's not the same track, but he runs a good track."

Local face:

Chicago's very-own Caton Metzler Bredar is back in town for Million week.

The Barrington High School graduate served as the "Mistress of Ceremonies" for Thursday's annual Arlington Million Ladies Luncheon. The veteran television racing analyst will be at the track all weekend covering the races for HRTV with Arlington Park's all-time leading female rider Zoe Cadman.

Caton's husband Doug, also a local product (Maine West), is the agent for jockey Florent Geroux and former racing secretary at numerous tracks including Churchill Downs.

Local legend:

Does Arlington Park all-time leading jockey Earlie Fires have another win under his belt at the age of 65?

The answer comes today in the eighth race tabbed as the "Fab 5 vs. the Legends".

The Hall of Famer Fires joins retired jockeys Patti Cooksey, Zoe Cadman, Larry Melancon and Frank Lovato Jr. against Arlington's top five current riders in an "about one-mile" turf race.

"I've been watching him (Fires, who retired in 2008) work horses in the morning and he looks real good," said retired Arlington Park jockey Carlos Silva, who now trains at Arlington. "You know he will be giving 100 percent. He was such a strong rider. You didn't want to see him next to you in the lane."

Silva added he never gave a thought to riding in today's race.

"I don't miss riding," he said. "I enjoyed my career so much, but now I love training horses."

Big pools lurking:

Arlington Park will offer a $200,000 guaranteed pool on the 50-cent Late Pick 4 wager covering races 9 through 12, including the 30th running of the Arlington Million.

In addition, the 50-cent Pick 5 will be an all-stakes/all-turf wager and cover races 7 through 11 -- the Million, the Beverly D., the Hatoof, the Secretariat Stakes and the inaugural edition of the American St. Leger. It offers a guaranteed pool of $100,000.

The quote:

"I've been getting on horses regularly at Hollywood Park. I'm ready to go."

-- Zoe Cadman, Arlington's all-time winningest female jockey and one of five retired riders participating in the jockey challenge race today.

at Arlington Park.

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