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posted: 8/18/2012 12:01 AM

'History' in special Arlington turf race

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  • Jake Wil Gallop wins the Arlington Fab Five vs. Legends Race with jockey James Graham aboard Friday at Arlington Park.

    Jake Wil Gallop wins the Arlington Fab Five vs. Legends Race with jockey James Graham aboard Friday at Arlington Park.
    Photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos


James Graham, one of Arlington's leading riders, stole the show with a come-from-behind victory in Friday's "Arlington's Fab 5" vs. the "Legends" jockey turf race.

But Earlie Fires, Zoe Cadman, Patti Cooksey, Larry Melancon, Frank Lovato, Jr. rode as if they had never retired in the one-mile event won by Jake Will Gallop.

The 65-year old Fires is the track's all-time leading rider, and Cadman (placed fourth with Hungry Wildcat) is Arlington's second-winningest female rider.

"That's history," said Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois after watching the third edition of the jockey challenge.

"When you are a celebrity for a long time you can be forgotten, and this brings them back. And they take a lot of risks out there. We appreciate them for it."

Local trainer Mike Dini, whose Texas Hedge ran eighth under Fires, handed out much praise to the former riders.

"This isn't as easy as going back to playing football or something," Dini said. "Because you've got to stay at it and keeping working the whole race.

"If you're not holding your horse, you're pushing it. In other sports, you can take breaks at some points. How many times in football is a player not involved in the play?"

Duchossois said the event will continue each year.

"Absolutely, this is tradition," he said. "The jockeys look forward to it and they get recognized. It's good for them, the industry and for everyone."

Led by Graham, the Fab Five (top five current jockeys at Arlington) outscored the Legends 23-16 based on a 12-10-7-6-4 point system.

"It's brilliant," said Graham, who has ridden in all three editions. "More tracks should do things like this, especially with the proceeds going to great causes (the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America)."

Graham's 1-length victory was worth 12 points, while Melancon earned 10 points for his runner-up finish aboard Dominant Suh.

"I felt good being out there (in a race), especially since I get on three or four horses every morning," said Melancon, who retired from race riding in July 2010.

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