As one of Chicago's oldest stakes races, the tradition-rich Arlington-Washington Futurity was first run more than 80 years ago and -- as its name implies -- it is a hopeful harbinger of things to come for any horse fortunate enough to win it.
Spend a Buck won the Arlington-Washington Futurity as a two-year-old and went on to take the Kentucky Derby the following spring. Candy Spots won the local Futurity and went on to captured the Preakness the next year. Bet Twice triumphed in the 1987 Belmont Stakes after scoring in the Arlington-Washington Futurity the previous season.
There have been Arlington-Washington Futurity success stories, like that of Hansel, hero of the 1990 Arlington-Washington Futurity, which was at one time the richest Thoroughbred race in the world. Hansel went on to win both the Preakness and the Belmont as a three-year-old before being named champion three-year-old colt.
Naturally, those visions of continued success have passed through the minds of Don and Dana Myers, the husband-wife team who won last week's Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity with Pataky Kid, a juvenile son of Rockport Harbor who they race under the nom-de-course of their Swifty Farm.
"It's nice to win one of these big races every once in awhile," said Don Myers, trying to keep his emotions in check as he and his wife made their way to the winner's circle last weekend. "It helps pay the bills."
On the day after their big win, Dana Myers was somewhat more forthcoming, but like her husband, trying to temper her enthusiasm.
"Naturally, we are excited about this win," she said, "but my husband and I have been in this game since 1970. We don't want to get too far up in the air just yet. We know you have to take these things one day at a time. Still, we can always hope.
"Tom (Pataky Kid's trainer Proctor) told us he would like to run this colt in the (Grade 1) Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland (on October 6) for his next start. We'll see how our horse runs in there and then we'll see what happens after that."
Obviously, as a native of Seymour, Indiana, some 50 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky, Don Myers has always had the dream of winning a Kentucky Derby in the back of his mind, even though at this early juncture he is surely trying to suppress it.
"The best horse we've had so far was probably Pass Rush," Dana Myers, a native of Mansfield, Ohio, said on the day after Pataky Kid's Arlington-Washington Futurity score. "He won a Grade 2 out in California (Santa Anita's 2003 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes) a few years ago.
"Pataky Kid is named after me," she added. "Pataky is my maiden name and we try to name all our horses using the first letter of the dam's name. (Pataky Kid is out of the Gold Case mare Prom Princess.) Our granddaughter Christina who manages our farm, helped pick this horse out of a Fasig-Tipton sale. We paid $95,000 for him."
Granddaughter Christina Lawton, reached by phone later that same day, would not accept much of the credit for the selection of Pataky Kid.
"Our agent Donato Lanni was with me at that sale and he's the one who deserves most of the credit," she said. "He teaches me and has been my mentor for the last three years. We saw this horse breeze at Palm Meadows, and although he acted like a big baby during the breeze show, Donato fell in love with how big his stride was. Donato has already bought 15 graded stakes winners out of sales, so the odds are with him.
"After we looked at this horse one time we didn't go back and look at him again," Lawton stated. "We knew we were going to buy him and we didn't want anyone else to know we were interested.
"Whenever I look at this horse he makes my stomach tingle," Lawton concluded. "When he looks at you his eyes peer right into you. Now we're just keeping our fingers crossed."