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Emotional ride for Matthew Straight
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/5/2009 11:48 PM

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As he swung his mount wide heading into the stretch in the fourth race Saturday at Arlington Park, jockey Matthew Straight knew he wasn't the only one aboard More Than Able.

Riding along with him was his twin brother Michael, who before suffering severe injuries in a spill on Aug. 26, was the regular rider aboard the Jan Ely-trained 4-year-old.

"It was kind of emotional to ride a horse my brother has ridden," the 23-year-old Straight said after his third-place finish. "I kind of felt I put myself in his shoes. I just wish I could've got the job done."

With his brother at Lutheran General Hospital suffering from head and spine injuries, getting back aboard a horse was the perfect tonic for Matthew.

"I came up here the other day to be by my brother's side, so I wanted to get back in the saddle and see how I felt," said Matthew, who will continue riding at Arlington and move on to Hawthorne in the fall. "We all know what we've signed up for. We all know the risk. Unfortunately, one of the worst things that could've happened to a jockey happened to my brother."

Michael Straight's injuries have caused an outpouring of support within the racing community.

At Arlington, a rotating group of jockeys signed autographs for fans, raising $5,000.

Across the country, jockeys and horsemen alike were chipping in with a portion of their winnings as well.

"It's tremendous; for the industry to come together as one is really unbelievable," Matthew said. "I just want to thank everyone.

"Michael's doing well. He's stable and he's hanging in there.

"It's going to be a long road to recovery, but with the continued thoughts and prayers for our family, we'll get through it."

Big day for Cat: Trainer Wayne Catalano swept Arlington's signature events for 2-year-olds Saturday when Dixie Band captured the Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity and She Be Wild won the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie roughly 90 minutes apart.

In the Futurity, Dixie Band, the 4-5 favorite, looked like he might taste defeat for the first time in three starts when U Appeal to Me took the lead in mid-stretch. But Dixie Band, under David Flores, battled back and took the lead inside the final sixteenth and drew off for a 13/4-length victory.

In the Lassie, She Be Wild split horses in the stretch and quickly drew off to win easily by 53/4 lengths under Junior Alvarado.

Also on the card was the $200,000 Grade III Washington Park Handicap, where jockey E.T. Baird lulled everyone to sleep on the front end aboard Gran Estreno and held off a late rally by Dubious Miss to win for the sixth time in eight tries this year.