Today’s Chicago Railbird took a deep dive into the Arlington 8th, a race that was originally a nice turf allowance. According to reports from Arlington this morning, the race is still pretty classy…but a hundred percent less grassy, as races have been taken off the green stuff for the day.
The only horse who scratched from the race when it was moved off the turf was Lori’s Store. Her scratch was no surprise. Tim Thornton was named on both Lori’s Store and main track only entrant Sydneyrella, and Lori’s Store had never previously raced on a synthetic surface. Some of the analysis still stands: Goldway and Seeking Treasure are still one-way speeds who are not likely to have it their way in the field, and Our Domain is only a slightly less dicey proposition on synthetic than she is on dirt. In light of the surface change and the scratches, the selections from Chicago Railbird change just a little bit: they are in order Sydneyrella (8), I Dazzle (3), and Fine Assay (6).
For reasons detailed in Chicago Railbird today, Sydneyrella contends. She is a consistent filly in sharp form this year. Though she takes a bit of a step up in class here, she has been as sharp as could be on the polytrack this meet. She has won all four polytrack starts, including three at the same one-turn mile she will be running today. Thornton has been aboard for all four of those races; he knows her well. The 7/2 on the morning line seems a bit better than you’ll actually get in light of her recent form and the race being washed off the turf, but she will be sharp and deserves to be well bet.
I Dazzle, the top pick on the grass, is a bit more questionable a proposition on the polytrack. She has only raced on synthetic surfaces twice, though both races were against classy company. She finished third last year over Hollywood’s Cushion Track in the Marjorie L. Everett Handicap (GII) at 1 1/16 miles, and was a well-beaten fifth in this year’s Arlington Matron (GIII). The nine furlongs of the Matron were probably too long for her. This is a mile against horses who are not graded stakes caliber: two great reasons to excuse her previous runs on the synthetic and give her another chance on the main. Between the strong Stidham/Graham combination behind her and her recent form, there is still plenty to recommend her here despite the surface change. She should be a price here, better than if the race stayed on grass.
Fine Assay, the morning line favourite, has only raced on synthetic once; she ran this one-turn mile in May when a race was washed off the grass. She won. This group is a bit tougher than the likes of Zipso Facto and Solitary Life. Still, she is second off the layoff, and she should be in the right part of her form cycle to put up a good performance. Her first off the layoff was a little flat, but an improvement puts her right in the mix. And, the fact that she won last time a race was washed off shows her adaptability both in surface, and in the fact that she is a two-turn horse who can switch to one-turn when necessary.
Finally, there is the issue of longshot Phaniebdancing. She remains an intriguing price for the under rungs of intra-race exotics. She has only raced on polytrack once, fading late at nine furlongs against proven graded stakes runners like Aurelia’s Belle and Stellaris in the Arlington Oaks (GIII) in July. She was a little more interesting on the turf given her career high speed figure in the Hatoof over turf, but the rest of what made her interesting when this race was slated for turf still stands on dirt. In that one synthetic attempt, jockey Eduardo Perez sent her far clear early, leaving her with nothing left late. Nine furlongs was also likely too long for her; both her past performances and her breeding suggest she likely tops out at eight to eight and a half panels.