08/17/2012 12:15PM

Arlington Park report: Silver Max looks sharp in gallop

Four-Footed Fotos
Silver Max hits the Arlington track Friday morning with Gus Alvarado in the saddle.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Silver Max, the favorite for the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Saturday, cut an impressive figure galloping aggressively around the Polytrack surface at Arlington Park on a beautiful Friday morning.

As trainer Dale Romans watched intently from a golf cart in his first trip to Arlington this year, Silver Max, with exercise rider Gus Alvarado aboard, galloped at a strong clip about six paths away from the rail, going 1 1/2 miles. Silver Max and three other Romans horses - Little Mike for the Arlington Million, and Cozzetti and Finnegans Wake for the Secretariat - arrived here Thursday after a six-hour van ride from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

"They all settled in real well," said Romans, who was taking in the morning activities alongside Carlo Vaccarezza, the owner-breeder of Little Mike, and Carlo's son, Nick. "I'd thought about bringing more horses to run here this weekend, but I didn't even pick up the [condition] book. Four was enough."

Gosden confident of the footing for Joviality

If trainer John Gosden is accurate in his assessment of how Joviality likes her turf, then the 4-year-old filly would seem to stand an excellent chance Saturday as the top European hope in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes. Plenty of rain here Thursday should afford the lush Arlington grass course some give, although not too much, with bright sunshine and a nice breeze in the offing for Friday and Saturday.

"She's happy on good ground - not too firm, not too soft," Gosden said earlier this week from England. "To be quite honest, she ran a little bit flat in the Falmouth, but she's been in good form since then."

Joviality threw in a clunker in her last start, the Group 1 Falmouth at Newmarket, a race that followed a pair of bang-up efforts - a runner-up finish in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth at Epsom, and a victory in the Group 2 Windsor Forest at Royal Ascot. Joviality is one of four foreign fillies in the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D.

Thayer holds court

Former jockeys Barbara Jo Rubin, Earlie Fires, and Walter Blum were among the early-morning visitors to Arlington. The trio were among those being regaled at a trackside table with long-ago tales from Bill Thayer, the ageless official and administrator whose tenure at Arlington dates back to the Marge Everett glory days of the 1960's.

Thayer, 88, said he has recently recovered from a serious illness. "For a while there I thought The Man Upstairs was going to call me up to be with my old friend Joe Hirsch," he said.

Rubin was the first woman to win a parimutuel race in North America, doing so at Charles Town in 1969, while Blum and Fires are enshrined in the Racing Hall of Fame. Fires is among the five retired jockeys scheduled to ride the eighth race on the Friday twilight card, the "Arlington Fab 5 vs. Legends" event. First post is 3 p.m. Central, with the Legends race going at 6:22.