04/13/2010 11:00PM

Never Retreat overdue for some good luck


STICKNEY, Ill. - The 5-year-old mare Never Retreat has come back to Chicago after spending the winter at Fair Grounds, her connections fervently hoping that Never Retreat left her bad luck behind in New Orleans.

Never Retreat was one of eight horses entered Tuesday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap, the last of two graded stakes at the Hawthorne spring meet. She drew post 1, and jockey James Graham - based right now at Keeneland - will be in to ride. Also entered in the Sixty Sails, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race, were Starship Angel, Jessica Is Back, Miss Singhsix, Peach Brew, Fighter Wing, Afleet Deceit, and Life at Ten. Starship Angel was cross-entered in Friday's Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland. Life at Ten comes in from New York for trainer Todd Pletcher, while the Marty Wolfson-trained pair of Jessica Is Back and Miss Singhsix - both among the favorites - were scheduled to arrive from Florida on Thursday.

What a Fair Grounds meet Never Retreat had - or endured. She raced opening day there, on Nov. 6, and briefly looked like the winner of the Blushing K. D. Stakes before favored Much Obliged ran her down in deep stretch. On Jan. 2, she gamely edged Category Seven in the Furl Sail Handicap, only to be disqualified to second for brushing with another horse in the stretch. In the Marie Krantz Handicap on Jan. 30, Never Retreat came out on the wrong end of a photo finish after dueling the entire stretch with the talented filly Bubbler. Finally, Never Retreat finished a creditable third to Tizaqueena in the Bayou Handicap on March 26.

But something already has followed Never Retreat from Fair Grounds to Hawthorne - her propensity for drawing the rail. Somewhat amazingly, it happened in all four starts in New Orleans, and it has happened again in the Sixty Sails.

Silva ready to call it quits

Jockey Carlos Silva said he will retire from the saddle after accepting mounts on Saturday at Hawthorne.

Silva, 52, is one of the longest-serving jockeys in Chicago, having ridden here since 1978, the year he immigrated to the United States from his native Chile. Silva first went to Gulfstream Park, but made his way to Arlington Park that summer, and has primarily been based here ever since.

Through Tuesday's racing at Hawthorne, Silva had ridden 3,515 winners from 28,741 mounts. But at the ongoing Hawthorne meet, Silva has only two victories, and has ridden in just 28 races.

"I don't ride that many horses, and not that many live horses," Silva said of his decision to end his riding career. "The last two years, in the back of my head, you know you have to retire some time."

Silva was leading rider twice at Hawthorne, in 1980 and 1982. At Arlington, he is among the top five jockeys in terms of all-time wins at the track.

While Silva won't be out on the racing oval any longer, he is not leaving the racetrack. Sunday, he starts his new job as the agent for jockey Brandon Meier.

Familiar foes meet again

The spring here has been fairly mild and quite dry, and turf racing is back at Hawthorne, with the co-featured eighth race on Friday carded for one mile on the grass. This looks like a potential battle between the brothers Scherer, with Gary entering likely favorite Hype, and Richie countering with Musicstreet Menace. The two horses raced against each other at Fair Grounds, with Hype twice coming out on top, but Musicstreet Menace had a wide draw and might have made a premature move when the two last hooked up on March 27, and his price figures more appealing than Hype's. Also worth considering is Yep, who will appreciate a return to grass racing.

Among nine 3-year-old sprinting fillies entered in co-featured race 7 is Neverrguwithrichie, who starts for trainer Larry Rivelli. Rivelli's barn won two more races here on Tuesday, giving Rivelli 15 wins from just 33 starters at the meet.

Calabrese gets ready for Arlington

The Arlington Park backstretch opened on Monday, and the track opened for training on Wednesday as Arlington prepares for opening day on Thursday, April 29.

The first 30 horses through the stable gate early Monday were those owned by perennial leading Chicago owner Frank Calabrese. Calabrese has not started a horse at Hawthorne this spring, but has notched 22 wins from 66 runners at the Gulfstream meet.