PUNTSVILLE, GOOD BYE GREG Win Stakes Honoring Local Trainers

Chicago horse racing lost two of its own earlier this year, trainers Richard Scherer and Jeffrey Lynn.  In their memories, Arlington ran a pair of main-track sprint stakes today: chances for the Chicago-area racing community to get together, celebrate their memories, and enjoy the sport to which both devoted so much of their lives.

In both races, heavily favoured frontrunners ruled the day.  Good Bye Greg took the Jeff Lynn Memorial gate-to-wire.  Two races later, Puntsville annexed the Richard Scherer Memorial in similarly easy fashion.

It was particularly fitting for Puntsville to win the Richard Scherer Memorial, as her trainer Michele Boyce has several horses who had previously been in Scherer’s barn in the spring, including recent allowance winners Imposing Will and Bourbon Cowboy.  She reflected after the race, “It was a thrill to win for Richie.  His wife was there, a lot of his owners were there…it was very touching.  I was really moved.  It made me very, very happy.  They were two good horsemen, he and Jeff Lynn.  I miss them both.”

Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes: PUNTSVILLE Returns Home At Her Best

Last time Puntsville headed to post at Arlington Park, on June 10, she was two weeks removed from a commanding victory in allowance company.  The public anticipated a repeat and sent her off at 4/5, but an in-form One Liz got by her in the final furlong.  That drove home a lesson about her star grey mare to trainer Michele Boyce — that she runs her better races when she is fresh.  Puntsville got two months between her defeat in the Isaac Murphy Handicap and her return in the Hoist Her Flag stakes at Canterbury, and she returned with a blazing gate-to-wire score.

Puntsville got another month between her victory at Canterbury and her start in today’s Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes, and that month gave her all the time she needed to replenish her racing energy.  The public figured as much, sending her off at 3/5 in the field of six. It was a reversal of wagering interest from last month at Canterbury; Thoughtless, favoured over Puntsville in the Hoist Her Flag, went off the second choice today at 4.3/1.

Sharp from the gate, jockey Victor Santiago encouraged Puntsville to run with that instinct, and they quickly cleared to the rail.  Shackin Up, the other confirmed frontrunner in the field, was relegated to stalking in second.  Thoughtless and Black Angel made up the next flight, with Delicate Lady and Diadura chasing from farther back.  Unchallenged, Puntsville clicked off fractions of 22.50 for the opening quarter, and 45.46 for the half.

Shackin Up caved near the quarter pole; she could no longer even pretend to prompt the pace.  Puntsville cruised into the stretch well clear of Thoughtless on the rail, and of Diadura and Delicate Lady rallying wide.  Under a drive, Thoughtless made a bid, but Puntsville had enough in the drive to keep a safe advantage.  She came home two and a half lengths clear of Thoughtless, who held half a length on the rallying Diadura at the wire.  Delicate Lady reported home another length back, with Black Angel and Shackin Up completing the order of finish.  Both Luvin Bullies and Darlin Rosie were stakes scratches.

Puntsville stopped the timer in 1:10.32 for six furlongs on polytrack, and returned $3.20 to her many backers.  The exacta with Puntsville over Thoughtless (5-1) paid $4.50 for a $1 base bet.  A $0.50 trifecta with Diadura third (5-1-4) returned $6.30.  A dime superfecta with Delicate Lady in the lowest rung (5-1-4-3) rewarded backers with $2.12 for each dime on the combination.

Puntsville bounds clear in the 2017 Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes.

Puntsville bounds clear in the 2017 Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes.

Puntsville is a five-year-old gray or roan mare by Cashel Castle out of the Petionville mare Deville.  She races for the S. D. Brilie Limited Partnership of Steve and Diana Holland, who bred her here in Illinois.  Puntsville is the second horse bred and owned by S. D. Brilie L. P. to win a stakes race at Arlington this summer; they also bred and race Arlington Heights Stakes winner Devileye, Puntsville’s half-brother by Indygo Shiner.  Today’s victory was the tenth in Puntsville’s twenty-race career, and her fourth in stakes company.  The $39,322 winner’s share of the purse brought Puntsville’s career earnings to $311,051.

Before the race, trainer Michele Boyce had some concern about how the pace would set up for her speedy mare.  She remarked that Shackin Up, one of two entries for the Michael Stidham barn, “had nice speed, and obviously had a mission, and that was to soften me up.   I would have done the same if I had been in his position: he had a nice filly [Diadura] who looked like she could be very contentious with a rapid pace.”  Even so, her horse proved the sharper one.  “Puntsville is very fast, and she and Victor fit each other like a glove.”

Jockey Victor Santiago has partnered with Puntsville for much of her best work.  “She’s just gotten better,” he remarked after the race. “Today she just stood [in the gate] like a quiet horse then, boom, went out really quicker than the last. She’s pretty fast. Since I rode her the first time I said, God put me on her with a purpose. We clicked. Every time I ride her we click more and more.”

Trainer Michele Boyce had originally been considering a different race at Canterbury for Puntsville, but when Arlington put up this overnight stakes, she had no question that she would run her in today’s race, instead.  Though Boyce has not yet chosen a next start for Puntsville, she hopes to race the mare at least once more before her winter vacation.

She does know one thing for sure about that next race, however.  “It won’t be anything too quickly.”

Jeff Lynn Memorial Stakes: GOOD BYE GREG Breaks Through in Stakes Company

Though six-year-old Good Bye Greg has has several long layoffs during his career, he always seems to come back the old, lighting-fast Polytrack sprinter he appeared to be when he broke his maiden by thirteen lengths in May of 2014.  He had made a few tries in stakes company before today, but never hit the wire first.  In his only previous stakes try over the Arlington polytrack, he faded to third in the 2014 Straight Line Stakes after a mile proved just a little too long.  Today, he finally got the chance to go six furlongs in stakes company over his favorite track, and easily bid four foes goodbye.

The public had Good Bye Greg figured as the fastest in the field; bettors not only sent him off at 1/2, but there was also a show plunge.  A few chalk players broke a bead of sweat early, as swift grey Goneghost went with Good Bye Greg early, prompting him through an opening quarter of 22.10 as Gorgeous George drafted behind.  However, as Good Bye Greg made it 44.84 for the half, he was drawing clear of Goneghost and still moving easily.

Jockey Santo Sanjur finally shook Good Bye Greg up at the three sixteenths marker, and the rest were running for second place.  Reigning Catfish, who brought up the rear early, improved down the lane, but crossed the wire six and a half lengths behind Good Bye Greg.  Goneghost came home another two and a half lengths back.  St. Louie Guy and Gorgeous George completed the order of finish.  Armando’s Star, Mongol Bull, Richiesinthehouse, and Shogood were all stakes scratches; Shogood posted an impressive victory in an Illinois-bred allowance two races before the Jeff Lynn Memorial Stakes.

Good Bye Greg stopped the timer in 1.09.82 for six furlongs on the polytrack, and paid his confident backers $3.00 to win.  The exacta with Reigning Catfish in second (3-2) returned $8.30.  A $0.50 trifecta with Goneghost holding third (3-2-7) came back with $7.65.  The superfecta with St. Louie Guy in fourth (3-2-7-8) returned $3.99 for each dime on the combination.

Good Bye Greg meant business down the stretch in the 2017 Jeff Lynn Memorial Stakes.

Good Bye Greg meant business down the stretch in the 2017 Jeff Lynn Memorial Stakes.

Good Bye Greg is a six-year-old bay horse by Teuflesberg out of the Known Fact mare Tackalac.  Bred in Florida by Kenith H. Davis and Sherry Mansfield, he was purchased by Vince Foglia for $135,000 at OBS March 2013, and races in the silks of Foglia’s Patricia’s Hope, LLC.  Larry Rivelli trains Good Bye Greg, and jockey Santo Sanjur was in the irons.  The victory in today’s Jeff Lynn Memorial Stakes was Good Bye Greg’s eighth in thirteen career starts, and the $39,960 winner’s share of the purse brought his career earnings to $218,326.

Though some wondered whether that pressure from Goneghost would affect Good Bye Greg, rider Santo Sanjur had full confidence in his mount.  “The other horse didn’t bother him, he’s a class horse,” Sanjur assessed.  “He has really good talent on the Polytrack.  He handled it really good, he took the lead really easy and went wire to wire.”

All photographs courtesy of Four Footed Fotos.

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