Longtime track superintendent Javier Barajas is leaving Arlington Park to accept a position with the Dubai Racing Club.
"Javier's care in the maintenance of Arlington Park's turf course is a pivotal reason it has long been hailed as one of the world's best and we will miss him," Arlington Park President Roy Arnold said Monday in a statement released to news media. "He also played a prime role in the successful installation of our Polytrack synthetic surface in 2007. Based on the reputation he earned during his many years as track superintendent at Arlington, we know Javier will rise to the challenges presented by his new role with the Dubai Racing Club and we wish him well."
Since joining Arlington Park in 1976, Barajas worked in many capacities on the track and turf crew before becoming track superintendent in 1996.
"I cannot express how much an honor it was to work at Arlington Park for a man like (Arlington Chairman Emeritus) Mr. Richard Duchossois, who is completely dedicated to horse racing and whose love for Arlington Park is unmatched," Barajas said. "I also enjoyed working with Mr. Bill Thayer, who hired me to work on the track crew in June of 1976. He's been like a second father to me.
"I have a lot of respect for the Illinois horsemen," he added, "and I will miss working with them."
Arlington Park has begun a search for a successor to Barajas, who will return to Arlington for several weeks in April to help prepare both the synthetic main track as well as the turf course for the upcoming season in the weeks leading up to the May 1 opener.