08/22/2004 11:00PM

Lone Star Sky retires with foot injury


Lone Star Sky, the champion Florida-bred 2-year-old of 2002, has been retired because of a persistent foot problem, trainer Tom Amoss said Monday.

Lone Star Sky had not raced since December, although Amoss and owner Buddy New had been attempting to bring him back to action.

"We were hoping to get him back to the track, but the foot just wouldn't heal up right," said Amoss. "He was real good to us, so we thought we'd give him the benefit of the doubt and stop on him."

Amoss, whose Arlington Park string continues to win at a high percentage, said New has fielded inquiries about Lone Star Sky, but no determination has been made about the colt's future as a stallion.

After winning the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Cradle at River Downs, Lone Star Sky lost his last 10 starts, but he frequently competed against the best of his generation. He was 11th behind Vindication in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and 15th behind Funny Cide in the Kentucky Derby. After a runner-up finish in June 2000 in the Northern Dancer at Churchill, Lone Star Sky raced just once more, finishing fourth in a Dec. 7 allowance sprint at Fair Grounds.

Lone Star Sky, by Conquistador Cielo, won three of 14 starts and $504,995. He was bred by Jaime Carrion and brought $190,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales auction in February 2002.

Finally a win for Helmbrecht

Veteran trainer Bill Helmbrecht had been suffering through a nightmarish Arlington meet - until Friday. That's when Moonlight Sonata came through with a gritty two-length triumph in a first-level allowance race at six furlongs.

Seeing Moonlight Sonata win "was a wonderful feeling," said Helmbrecht, whose stable had suffered through a 1-for-59 slump to that point. "I can't tell you how much fun it was."

Moonlight Sonata has been there before to lift Helmbrecht's spirits. Now 4, Moonlight Sonata was a maiden longshot in September 2002, when she captured the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie at a huge mutuel.

In the nearly two years since then, however, Moonlight Sonata had gone winless when trying a variety of distances and surfaces. Unraced since being soundly beaten in a turf race in May at Hawthorne, she had undergone "tie-back" surgery on her epiglottis, and responded with her Friday victory.

"I knew she was a better horse than she'd shown in the last couple of years," said Helmbrecht.

Dead-heat winners may meet again

The two 3-year-old fillies who dead-heated for the win Saturday in the Arlington BC Oaks likely will square off again four weeks later, although this time on grass instead of dirt.

The connections of Lovely Afternoon and Catboat both said they are looking ahead to the Sept. 18 Pucker Up Stakes, a Grade 3 race at 1 1/8 miles.

Lovely Afternoon, trained by Tony Mitchell, and Catboat, trained by Bernie Flint, finished ahead of their eight rivals after overcoming problems in the Oaks. James Graham, aboard Lovely Afternoon, had his whip knocked out of his hands in midstretch, and Catboat, with Eddie Martin Jr., overcame a poor start.

Marquez to have tests on knee

Veteran jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. was scheduled for a magnetic resonance imaging test Monday after suffering a knee injury in a training accident Sunday morning.

Marquez, 36, was coming off a two-win Saturday when the girth broke on the horse he was exercising. Marquez was in fourth place in the jockey standings at the time of the injury. His agent, Penny Ffitch-Heyes, said the length of the layoff for Marquez will be determined by test results.

Four in a row for Boyce

Until Salty Sailor finished second in the Friday feature, trainer Michele Boyce had been on a sensational roll, having sent out four straight winners at Arlington.

"Sometimes the wins come in bunches," said Boyce. "Just like the losses. Things can turn on you quick in this game, so you have to enjoy the success when you can."

Salty Sailor finished second to the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Arbitrate, a 4-year-old colt by Deputy Minister out of Serena's Song.

* Champali, the standout 4-year-old who won the $500,000 Smile Sprint at Calder in his most recent start, is expected to be a heavy favorite in the lone stakes here this weekend, the $150,000 Arlington BC Sprint on Saturday. Champali will be ridden by Rene Douglas in what is expected to be a small field of older horses.

* Dan Leary, now in his fifth year as director of communications at Arlington, was one of three track employees honored with an Aspire Star award last week. Leary, who formerly worked in publicity in several other sports, was cited for performance "above and beyond the normal parameters" of duty.

* The third annual Riding For a Cure, a daylong trail ride that raises funds for cancer research, has been scheduled for Sept. 13 at the Barrington Hills Riding Center. Christine Gabriel, the track's in-house television host, is the founder of the event. For more information, call (847) 815-6888.