Updated on 09/16/2011 6:54AM

Only one streak can survive


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Arthur Wendel understands that he is in a no-win situation Thursday afternoon at Aqueduct.

That is when Wendel, the coldest trainer on the New York Racing Association circuit, will saddle , the hottest horse anywhere, for the first time since he claimed the 9-year-old for $50,000 on Feb. 2. Win, and the horse and his previous trainers likely get the credit. Lose, and it's all Wendel's fault.

"If anything happens the fall guy is me, not the horse," said Wendel.

It is racing's version of the immovable object and the irresistible force. Wendel has lost 97 straight races dating back to May 5, 2000. Arromanches, a son of Relaunch, has won 10 consecutive races dating back to May 27, 2001.

At age 82, training horses isn't about winning and losing for Wendel. It's more important than that.

"This business keeps me alive," Wendel said. "Some people want the peaceful life, sit in a chair and read a newspaper. I couldn't do it. That would bury me."

Twenty-two months without a winner would bury some people. But, Wendel, whose last win came with Marla Sue in a maiden-claiming race May 5, 2000, at Aqueduct, doesn't let it deter him.

"That doesn't bother me," said Wendel, who maintains a five-horse string in Barn 34 at Belmont Park. "I've been in this game 45 years, I've been at the top, in the middle and on the bottom, had good days, and bad days. I've seen guys here go from the top to the bottom. That happens to everybody here."

Records show that Wendel has been training horses since 1986. Wendel's best year came in 1987 when he won 10 races - including four stakes - and his horses earned $464,067. Landing Plot, a four-time stakes winner and earner of $666,484, was Wendel's best horse.

Wendel's worst year came in 1996 when he went winless with 127 starters.

Before 1986, Wendel was listed as an owner, but he worked in concert with his brother, Hyman, who was listed as the trainer. Hyman, who, records show, began training in the late 1960's, died in 1986.

Wendel claimed Arromanches on behalf of Bruce Golden, a son of a longtime friend who was looking for a horse with whom he could win. "I told him one mark against him is he's 9 years old," Wendel said. "He could come out of his races injured. With 9-year-olds, you're playing with fire."

Arromanches has a number of frailties, most notably a paralyzed jaw that prevents him from eating normally. His feed must be wetted so it is easier to swallow.

Since Wendel is running Arromanches back in less than 30 days since the claim, the horse has to run for at least 25 percent higher than the claim price. Thursday, Arromanches is in for a tag of $65,000. That is the highest claiming level Arromanches has run at in two years, though he has won high-caliber allowance races.

Thursday, Arromanches will carry high weight of 122 pounds under regular rider Chuck Lopez, conceding two to 11 pounds to his five rivals. His stiffest test figures to come from Esteemed Friend, who came within a nose of beating Arromanches back on Nov. 4.

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