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Some good, some bad at Arlington's opener
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff

Tom Boyle and his son Dylan, 5, of Mount Prospect, relax on Opening Day at Arlington Park.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/3/2008 12:15 AM

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The good and the bad from Opening Day at Arlington Park:

Bad: The dire weather forecast for Friday afternoon no doubt kept many fans away. So much so that early on it seemed like there were more dark suits roaming the place than fans.

Eventually the place filled up a bit, but nowhere close to usual opening-day standards. Too bad, because it actually turned into a nice afternoon once the wind eased up.

Good/bad: The good news is a new mini-matrix board has been installed within the infield tote board at Arlington, and the picture is crystal clear.

The bad news? Inexplicably, the races weren't shown on the new screen Friday, forcing fans on the clubhouse-side apron to crane their necks toward the Jumbotron a half-block away. It is expected to be reconfigured in time for today's card.

While they're at it, they also might want to reconfigure the font size used on the screen because as it is, if you want to see the payoff prices after each race on the mini-matrix, you almost need superhuman eyesight.

Good: New racing analyst/handicapper Jessica Pacheco, fresh off a two-year stint as racing analyst at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, looks like she will thrive in that same role this summer at Arlington. She's not flashy, but boy does she knows her horses.

Bad: Here's an idea: If you're going to ban smoking indoors (good/bad), how about providing those who do smoke with some all-weather ashtrays?

Good: Arlington's new cash card should be a big hit -- both for those who want to pick up points through the Twin Spires Club and those who prefer to bet anonymously. Arlington offers a card for each camp.

Good: The look/layout of the new self-service betting terminals.

Good/bad: Apprentice jockey Lyndie Wade's only ride Friday got off to an inauspicious start when his mount, Jitterbug, delayed the start of the seventh race when he had to be re-shod, then dumped Wade in the post parade and reared up while loading into the gate. After all that, though, Jitterbug finished a solid second behind longshot winner Souper Miss.

Neither: The gates at Arlington open today at 9:30 a.m., and the first simulcast race from Churchill Downs on Derby Day is at 10 a.m.