Jeff Johnson

  • New Arlington Polytrack gets positive reviews.

    Arlington's New Surface Healing Old Wounds

    A year after an unprecedented string of catastrophic breakdowns left horsemen wondering what was wrong with the dirt track at Arlington Park, they were singing the praises of a new synthetic racing surface.

  • Motion Sizes Up Arlington Festival Races

    Trainer H. Graham Motion has a contender in two of the three big races at Arlington Park's International Festival of Racing, so he's in a good spot to assess the relative quality of Saturday's fields.

  • Inside Look at Arlington Park Examines Biases

    The palatial grandstand wasn't all that was new when Arlington Park reopened in 1989 as Arlington International Racecourse. Horses raced over a new nine-furlong main surface and a single, one-mile turf course with movable rails that replaced the old two-course setup.

  • Sportsman's Park Race Report: Battle Lines

    California trainer David La Croix verbalized what most of the entrants were thinking in the days leading up to the April 6 Illinois Derby (gr. II) when he said he was looking for a "back door" to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) for Fonz's.

  • Hawthorne Race Report: A Good Day For Duckhorn

    The axiom "speed kills" holds true about every second race for Duckhorn. The other times he worries trainer Patrick Byrne half to death. Fortunately for Byrne and owner Michael Tabor, the "good" Duckhorn showed up for the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) May 19. Of course, that was bad news for his half-dozen opponents, who spent a mile and a quarter watching the rear end of the roan 4-year-old colt.

  • Sportsman's Race Report: Chicago Six Sets Track Record

    The National Jockey Club Handicap (gr. III) was a puzzle just waiting to be assembled by Guided Tour at Sportsman's Park on April 22. The out-of-town star was supposed to ship in, overcome the challenge of invading speedster Duckhorn, add another $120,000 to his earnings, and leave everybody else in the field of five to cash their checks. Puzzle solved. All the pieces were in place -- until a stout-hearted Illinois-bred named Chicago Six scattered the preordained solution all over the drying-out racetrack.

  • Sportsman's Park Race Report: Distilled Wires Illinois Derby

    The road to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) runs through...Cicero, Illinois? That's the untested theory that has Dogwood Stable chief Cot Campbell and trainer Todd Pletcher scratching their heads after their late-developing colt Distilled rolled to a convincing 1 3/4-length victory in the $500,000 Illinois Derby (gr. II) on April 7.