06/08/2006 11:00PM

Emigh widens his lead with a five-win day

Benoit & Associates
Original Spin had a dull 2006 bow, but she's been working well lately.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Chris Emigh has become the perennial leading rider in Chicago, but when the action moves to the northwest Chicago suburbs, the hierarchy shifts. Emigh has bubbled up to the top at the Hawthorne fall meet and the National Jockey Club spring meet, but has played second or third fiddle in recent Arlington meets to Shaun Bridgmohan, Rene Douglas, and Mark Guidry - basically, whichever "name" rider Arlington super-agent Dennis Cooper lines up for the meet.

"Whenever we get to this side of town, my agent says his phone stops ringing and Cooper's starts ringing," Emigh said Wednesday afternoon.

This year, Cooper and Bridgmohan have stayed the meet at Churchill Downs, and Emigh and his agent Jay Fedor are making the most of it. After a five-win day on Wednesday, Emigh had ridden 41 winners from 152 mounts, leading second-place Cisco Torres by 18 wins in the Arlington standings.

"It's all about getting on live horses," said Emigh. "I've worked for 10 years to build up my business."

Five in a day was nice, but Emigh actually seemed disappointed he didn't win a couple more. He rode the heavy favorite in the first race, but that horse failed to fire, and he was on a live first-time starter in the third race who got caught up in a speed duel. But there will be other opportunities. As he has done in all the recent meets at Hawthorne, Emigh also has ridden more horses than any other jockey at the meet. He accepts calls at all class levels, and has several major Chicago outfits in his corner.

One is the barn of trainer Brian Williamson, and among Emigh's five wins on Wednesday, none is more promising than the Williamson-trained My Chickadee, whom Emigh guided to a seven-length victory in race 7. The most difficult part of My Chickadee's day was having her photograph taken in the winner's circle: she refused to stand still for the camera, and after several minutes of fussing, eventually was moved to the other side of the space, where she finally posed.

That little battle meshes with My Chickadee's demeanor, Emigh said.

"She's a little nervous, a little spooky," Emigh said. "But she's definitely a runner. She was just two-minute clipping out there."

My Chickadee, bred and owned by Hugh King, scored her second win in her fifth start, having won her career debut at Hawthorne before finishing fourth in a stakes there, second in a Keeneland allowance, and unplaced in a Churchill allowance where she had trouble at the start. My Chickadee, tall and lanky, is by Pleasant Tap and may turn out to be a route horse. That's where Williamson and King are aiming her, with the Aug. 19 Arlington Oaks a long-term goal.

Original Spin looking good again

Another 3-year-old filly with the Arlington Oaks on her agenda is Original Spin, who to trainer Tony Mitchell seems every day more like the filly who won the Arlington-Washington Lassie last fall, and not the one who ran last in the March 5 Forward Gal, her only start at 3.

Wednesday, Original Spin had her second work since rejoining Mitchell's Chicago string last month, breezing a half-mile in 48 seconds, third-fastest of 37 works at the distance.

"She went very good, galloped out five-eighths in a minute," Mitchell said. "She didn't get tired at all. She's coming back to herself again, and she continues to train well."

Mitchell isn't pushing, but if Original Spin stays on schedule she'll start in the Purple Violet Stakes for Illinois-bred 3-year-olds here June 24. "That's still our plan, but like I say, if she gets there, she gets there, and if she doesn't, she doesn't."

Werner barn shines at two meets

If Original Spin makes the Purple Violet, she is likely to run into Rich Fantasy, who was headed back to Arlington from Churchill Downs on Friday for trainer Ronny Werner. Illinois-bred Rich Fantasy impressively won the Ribbon Handicap here May 13, and was being considered for the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill, but a van ride on a scorching afternoon "knocked out" Rich Fantasy, according to Werner.

"She didn't go like I wanted her to go, so we just backed off a little bit," Werner said. "She's doing good again right now."

So is Werner. After moving his base of operations to Kentucky, Werner went through a dry spell as he rebuilt his business, but things are rolling again now. He was in New York this week to start Ermine in the Grade 1 Acorn on the Belmont Stakes card, and is considering Flying Glitter for the Chicago Breeders' Cup Sprint here next weekend. Werner has 36 horses at Churchill, and 20 at Arlington, and both strings have excelled, compiling a record of 31-9-9-8 at the two meets.

"It's been going great," he said.

Sunday's Double Delta wide open

A race in which it's difficult to identify the favorite is a race in which it's probably going to be difficult to identify the winner, and Arlington's Sunday feature, the Double Delta for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on turf, seems like just such a race.

Seven were entered in the Double Delta, and two - Taylor Madison and Noble Gesture - never have raced on turf.

Ladyburn looked good winning an entry-level turf allowance over the Arlington course May 27, but that 1 1/8-mile race might have suited her better than Sunday's mile. Pure Incentive ships in from the Saratoga training track for trainer Patrick Biancone, and was fifth of 10 sprinting at Santa Anita in her lone turf try.

American Diva and Idle Quest both exit entry-level turf allowance wins, while Whatsitgonnatake captured an Indiana-bred turf stakes at Indiana Downs by 5 1/2 lengths in her most recent start.