Trainer Larry Rivelli, who had a two-win advantage over conditioner Scott Becker entering the closing day of the 2011 Arlington Park season Sept. 25, officially earned his first trainer championship at Chicago’s northwest track.
Rivelli concluded Arlington’s 86-day meeting with a 39-37 advantage over Becker. James Graham was the meet's leading rider with 82 wins, and William Stiritz was leading owner. Like Rivelli, the meet wins were the first at Arlington for Graham and Stiritz.
Born and raised in Chicago, the 40-year-old Rivelli is the grandson of the late longtime Arlington Park trainer Pete DiVito and his uncle is Arlington conditioner Jimmy DiVito. But Rivelli becomes the first member of that family to win Arlington’s leading trainer honors.
“It’s an honor to win leading trainer honors at a major track like Arlington because the quality of the other trainers is so high here,” said Rivelli during training hours Sept. 25. “I believe if the meet had been just a little bit longer, 'Cat' would have caught me.”
"Cat," of course, is Wayne Catalano, winner of the last six Arlington training titles and currently second on Arlington’s all-time leading trainer list. He ranked third in the final standings with 34 victories.
“There are a like about a million people that had a lot to do with helping me achieve this,” said Rivelli, “and I should thank every one of them. I’ve got a very good crew of people working for me and this is really more like an achievement for the whole team. When I first got into this business I was told that if you have good people around you, you will get good results, and I’ve always found that to be the case.
“Of course, I also owe a great deal to my owners and I have to thank them as well,” said Rivelli, who began training on his own in 1999. “My owners are all a great bunch of guys, and fortunately they know that there are going to be a lot of disappointments along the way in this game, but they have always stuck by me and I really am grateful to them."
Arlington did not release business figures for the meet, consistent with a policy by Churchill Downs, Inc. for its tracks to release attendance and handle numbers only for major events. The track is, however, required to submit the figures to the Illinois Racing Board, which will release them publicly.