09/12/2008 12:00AM

Young Meier outriding his dad


There were two divisions of a 2-year-old Illinois-bred maiden race on the Thursday card at Arlington Park. The Meier family had both covered.

Jockey Randy Meier won race 6 on an unlikely victress, a 47-1 shot named Cielo Pintado. Two races later, it was Randy Meier's son Brandon Meier guiding Mustang Stacey to an open-lengths victory at a much, much shorter price of 3-1.

That was the second time this season that Brandon and Randy had won a race on the same day, but besides the major odds discrepancy Thursday, there have been other differences between father and son: Most notably, Brandon Meier has 57 wins at the ongoing Arlington meet, while his father has only eight.

Randy Meier, while looking forward to turning his year around over at Hawthorne this fall, will not be heard complaining about the win-total discrepancy. He has mainly enjoyed watching his son grow from green novice in May, when Brandon made his career debut here, to a surprisingly accomplished jockey with an apparent bright future.

"Of course people will say I'm his dad, so you know, but I think he's got a natural gift," Randy Meier said Friday. "He's got patience. He knows where to put them. He always seems to be in the right spot, and for a bug boy, you don't see him in very much trouble, going where you shouldn't go. For riding [only] three months, he looks pretty good on the back of a horse."

Randy Meier has long been known as a speed jockey - the greeting on his cell phone voice-mail still tells a caller that they've reached "Wire to wire with Randy Meier."

But Brandon has ridden almost exclusively on Polytrack, where going slow early and finishing with a flourish is the preferred piloting method. The interesting thing Thursday was that both Meier 2-year-old winners leapt to the lead from the gate and went all the way.

"I just try and ride each horse the way the trainers ask for," Brandon Meier said. "So far, it seems like it, yeah, we've taken quite a few back and made a good run. I've [gone to the lead] with some, but for the majority, I've taken them back."

Randy Meier said he has avoided imparting too forcefully his lessons learned in a decades-long career riding. The two "talk every night after the races," Randy said, adding that "when Brandon wants to know something, I'll tell him. There are times I'll say, 'You should've been in here or out of there,' but you can only coach so much."

Brandon said Friday he still has not decided where he will ride when the Arlington meet ends Sept. 21, but on this, Randy has a strong opinion.

"I think he should go somewhere else," Randy Meier said. "Now is the time to go, coming off the meet he's had here. Hey, I'm the all-time winningest rider at Hawthorne, and it's been a great place for me. But when I was young, coming from Nebraska, that was a step up. For him, it would be a step down. I think he needs to go somewhere besides Hawthorne."

Hawthorne or otherwise, Brandon Meier does appear to be going places - even if it's not straight to the lead, like his dad.

Palanka City gets class relief

Palanka City's New York summer didn't go exactly as her connections might have hoped, but now she is back at Arlington, and the 3-year-old filly will take aim at much smaller game than she's recently been hunting. Fourth in the Grade 1 Test and the Grade 3 Victory Ride at the Saratoga meet, Palanka City is being pointed to an overnight dirt-sprint stakes later this month at Hawthorne, trainer Terry Gestes said Friday.

Palanka City, who breezed Thursday at Arlington, won three races in a row this past spring, capping that streak with a good victory in the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Shipped to Belmont for a series of 3-year-old filly sprint races there this summer, Palanka City was turned over to trainer Barclay Tagg, but now is back in Gestes's care.

Ness wins with second starter

The trainer Jamie Ness announced his reappearance on the Chicago scene, sending out Dawn Raider to victory in a $35,000 turf claimer on Thursday. It was Ness's second starter of the Arlington meet, but there are more to come, beginning with three entries on Sunday's card.

Ness won 43 races at the recently concluded Canterbury Park meet, and has shipped all his stock to Chicago. While Ness will really get active once the Hawthorne meet commences, he said he plans on participating in the dwindling days of the Arlington season, too.

"There are some spots I'll be looking for," Ness said.