Arlington picks and analysis: 8.3.14

We are in the midst of the stakes lull before Arlington Million day, but there is still plenty of racing going on at Arlington, and Blinkers Off is right on top of it.  The focus today is on maiden races: three of the nine races today are for maidens, and two of those are baby races.  There are also two allowances today, including a pretty salty one that includes both Please Explain making her first start since the Kentucky Oaks as well as intriguing Eight Belles longshot Mufajaah making her second start since.  Both of these three-year-olds are trying turf for the first time, as well as facing older company.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the races!

Race 1: $14,000-$12,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the synthetic

Selections: Helluva Hunch (4), Masquerade Fashion (2), Stay Foolish (1)

Helluva Hunch was second at a mile on poly two back against a little tougher, though did not perform as well over the turf last out.  The start two back on polytrack warrants further running on the surface, especially against a fairly weak field like this.  Pacewise, it could very well set up for her: Stay Foolish is the only can’t-rate type in this field, and if any of the ones who can be speed or rate a bit decide to press her, she’ll have something to close into.  Masquerade Fashion is another one who can come in from off the pace if the front end gets a little frisky.  She beat harder on dirt back in April, and does have a win over the polytrack.  Her form has been a bit of a yo-yo, and the yo-yo looks to be reeling back up today.  Stay Foolish, along the rail, is a threat if no one decides to go up with her on the front end.  She has the rail, which has been good as of late, and has won in two of six starts over the polytrack at Arlington.  Second off the lay for a Leo Gabriel barn that does well both in claiming races and on polytrack, she has a shot today.

Race 2: $15,000 maiden claiming, two-year-olds, five and a half furlongs over the synthetic

Selections: She’s Deceitful (3), Dennie’s Dream (4), Old Abe (2)

Baby race season is officially in full swing now that there are lower-level claiming races for two-year-olds.  She’s Deceitful has a lot going for her.  Pedigree-wise, all four other racers from her dam are winners, and out of the three who raced at two, two won at that age.  This includes her full sister, Dreamofjean E.  She is by Bring The Heat, a sire who has won with an astounding 25% of his first-time starters.  She has been working well, and races for a Larry Rivelli barn that wins debut maiden claimers at 30%.  Finally, Noel Vigil rides: though the Rivelli/Baird combination has been getting most of the attention, but in nine starts by Rivelli/Vigil over the last two months, they’ve had their pictures taken six times.  Dennie’s Dream, the other (uncoupled) Rivelli trainee, has a lighter worktab, but still several things to recommend her.  Her only sibling to race, a full brother named Hey Pretty Boy, did win at two.  Rivelli’s go-to mount E. T. Baird rides, and tends to perform well on maidens.  Old Abe comes from the Tom Amoss barn, hitting at 19% with first-timers in maiden claimers.  The pedigree does not scream precocity, but he has a strong, regular worktab dating back to April, and has the services of top jockey Florent Geroux.

Race 3; $12,500-$10,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs over the synthetic

Selections: Papa Georgio (2), Wompus the Tiger (7), Escarto (5)

Papa Georgio is the only one in this field who interests me much at all.  He is coming in on The Drop, having started twice this meet in open maiden special weight company.  He finished up the track both times, but faces far easier than the likes of McQ and Pick Three Punchie here.  His speeds in those races have been solid compared to others in this field, and the Bradlee Rainwater barn has been strong with maiden claimers, particularly those who are dropping in from maiden special.  The excellently-named Wompus the Tiger appears to finally have found company with which he can contend.  Though he is still a maiden, his running style is pretty obvious: run as far as he can as fast as he can, and hope he does not get caught.  He will certainly do that again today, and this field is weak enough that he could carry the track’s penchant for early speed all the way home.  Escarto comes in here on a drop from $30,000-$25,000 company at Fair Grounds last out.  All three of his starts over the winter have trouble lines, so if he stays out of trouble today, he could graduate at a big price against this easier company.


Race 4: Allowance optional claiming (purse $32,000), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $8,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N3L OR $40,000 claiming price, 1 1/16 miles over the turf

Selections: Seeking Treasure (6), Please Explain (4), Merilore (7)

Seeking Treasure is the only credible early speed in this race, unless North by Northlite freaks.  She should show even more speed than she has in the past, since she is putting the blinkers on today.  She has never raced at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass.  She has won two at a mile, though, and being out of a Dynaformer mare she should not have any trouble with the extra half a furlong.  Her speed compares well enough with the field on turf, and she could go wire to wire.  Please Explain is trying the grass for the first time here, after a three-month freshening.  She spent the spring on the Kentucky Oaks trail, and dials back to easier company here in her first race back.  She broke her maiden at this distance on dirt; the only question is how well she handles the green stuff.  Being by Curlin out of a Pine Bluff mare, there is no reason she should not handle it well; she has one half-sibling who has won on the grass.  Ace turf jockey Channing Hill rides, and Proctor wins with 17% of his first time turf runners.  The biggest question surrounding her is pace: she tends to come from farther back early, and could be compromised by the fact that there is not a lot of early speed here.  Merilore should be stalking relatively close to the pace, and has been in solid form this meet.  She has won at this distance, and two of her three lifetime wins have come on the grass.  This Kassen trainee has been knocking on the door, and the jockey change may end up being what she needs to pass this condition.

Race 5: Maiden special weight ($33,000 purse), two-year-olds, Illinois-bred, five and a half furlongs over the synthetic

Selections: Dom the Bomb (3), Strolling Steve (5), Chadwick (1)

Dom the Bomb will be anything but — he’s the 2/1 morning line favourite.  However, he has everything to recommend him.  Pedigree-wise, he is by Bring The Heat out of a Five Star Day mare — both sides of his pedigree suggest he is ready to run first time out.  He runs for a Larry Rivelli barn that wins at 27% with fisrt-time starters, and 24% of first-timers in maiden special weight races.  Top sprint jockey Tim Thornton rides.  Strolling Steve is coming up from $50,000 maiden claiming company, but trainer Steve Manley has actually won seven of thirty-five times doing that.  He has been on the board all three times over the polytrack, and makes a switch to Santo Sanjur, a jockey who has been performing particularly well in sprints.  His works are good going into this race, suggesting he should be primed to hit the board again.  Chadwick has the rail, which has been strong.  Jockey Carlos Marquez, Jr. runs well with maidens.  Pedigree-wise, the best thing he has going for him is aptitude on the polytrack: out of eight horses out of dam Almost Sma to race, four have won on synthetic surfaces.

Race 6: $12,500-$10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the turf

Selections: Severe Weather (7), Zippidy Do Hah (2), It Takes Heart (6)

It Takes Heart is the only dyed-in-the-wool early speed in this race, though either Greytap or Zippidy Do Hah could press or be close early.  Whether the early pace is hot or not, Severe Weather should not be compromised: he has shown himself to be fine either stalking off the pace, or closing in from farther back. He is a strong turf miler, with five wins in ten tries at such races.  He is in off a two-month lay, but working well and running for a Roger Brueggemann barn who wins at 25% off similar-length lays.  He drops in from $25,000 company last out back to the level at which Brueggemann claimed him two back.  Zippidy Do Hah is versatile pacewise; he can either run close to the front end or attack from midpack.  He ran at this level last out, and just missed catching Harvest Home by half a length.  He has a win at the distance, and three of his four career wins have been on the green stuff.  Finally, jockey Emmanuel Esquivel and trainer Tammy Domenosky have been very consistent as of late: in ten starts over the last two months, they have won twice and been in the money a sparkling eight times.  It Takes Heart is on a class drop, and the speed of the speed.  If none of the other possibilities on the front end go with him, he could wire.  He cuts back in distance from his last start, and a mile is his best distance: he is 8-2-3-1 in turf miles.  Trainer Dale Bennett places claiming horses extremely well, and wins 23% of the time when his charges are up for a tag.

Race 7: Allowance ($33,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $8,800 once other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, six furlongs on the synthetic

Selections: Foxie’s Beauty (8), Marvelous Molly (3), Karla with a K (7)

Foxie’s Beauty comes in here for the first time since mid-May, but runs for a Scott Becker barn that wins a quarter of the time off of similarly long lays.  She has never raced on the polytrack, but has put up two sharp workouts over the Arlington synthetic this summer, suggesting she has a good shot to handle it.  The pace should be good for her: she can stalk a few lengths off the pace, and pounce when Case Cracker, Immoral Lifestyle, and Nowthatsalady have all tired each other out on the front end.  Combine this with the fact that Foxie’s Beauty is 6-2-1-1 at six furlongs, and she is a great value at anywhere near her 6/1 morning line.  Marvelous Molly is another one who will like the pace setup; she runs late from midpack or farther back.  In May she raced on the poly for the first time, but also dropped to a claimer for the first time.  She won that day, and has a win and a second in polytrack claiming races since.  Today will be the test as to whether that improvement in form was connected to the move to the poly, though the speeds she has put up in her polytrack starts suggest she should be competitive here.  Karla with a K returns for the first time since breaking her maiden last out.  That race, against state-bred maiden special weight company, came at six furlongs over the Arlington poly.  She has worked back since that race, firing a five-furlong bullet on July 20.  If she runs the same closing shape she did in her last race, she will have plenty on the front to assail late.

On the other hand, just say no to 3/1 morning line favourite Case Cracker (2).  She will be pace-compromised, as she, Immoral Lifestyle, and Nowthatsalady are all can’t-rate types who are going to be fighting it out on the front end.  She has tried six furlongs on  the main track five times before, and never once even hit the board.  Larry Rivelli trainees can get overbet, Florent Geroux mounts can get overbet…and with this pace and her dislike for the distance, Case Cracker looks unattractive for any price, much less chalk.

Race 8: Starter optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, starters for $16,000 or less since July 31, 2012 OR claiming price $30,000, 1 1/16 miles over the turf

Selections:  Sydneyrella (8), Starry Eyed Kate (5), Happy Henrietta (7)

For detailed analysis of this race, read this weekend’s Chicago Railbird.

Race 9: $12,500-$10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the turf

Selections: Piratesinparadise (6), Ice Climber (7),  Ozilda’s Last Son (3)

Piratesinparadise come in here first off the claim by the Terry Young barn.  This is not a turf barn (Young is one for his last 42 on the grass), but the horse’s recent turf form combined with the fact that jockey Florent Geroux is maintaining the mount are enough to suggest he has a much better chance than your average turfer from that barn.  He will likely be near the front end, but unlike several of the speedballs in this race, he has shown the ability to rate, which will serve him well here.  His speed is extremely strong for the field, and he cuts back to a mile distance at which he is 9-3-2-2 lifetime.  In a race with few real contenders, he shines.  Ice Climber has fallen down the class ladder this year: two back he finished 4 1/4 lengths behind The Pizza Man in the Black Tie Affair Handicap, last out he was up for a $25,000 tag, and now he falls even further.  Classwise he runs circles around this field, and his speeds stack up well.  His turf mile record is fairly good; he is 12-3-1-3 lifetime.  Trainer Larry Rivelli wins at 27% off drops of two or more rungs of the class ladder, which is why he still interests me.  The drop is a bit suspicious, but if Ice Climber cannot win (or at least finish a very close second to Piratesinparadise), something is seriously wrong.  Ozilda’s Last Son (3) is one of the longest shots in the field, but he has enough going for him to make his 30/1 morning line intriguing.  He is one of the early speedsters, but has a chance to get that speed if he can recover his form third off the lay.  He drops in class here from being over his head in starter optional company his last two times out.  Trainer Benny Olaivar does not run much on turf, but has sent some serious bombs on the green stuff: in his last seven starts over the green stuff, he has won four of those, been in the money with five, and had a +$13.14 ROI.  That’s a gossamer thread, but enough to merit a second look at his 30/1 shot on the grass.

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