Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and Saturday is the second of a four-day racing weekend at Arlington. The weather has been good and dry this week, cooperative given the day’s turf-heavy card. Five of the eight races today take place on the grass course, including the entire late pick four.
Without further ado, let’s go to the races!
Race 1: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L OR three years old, six furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Atomic (1), Be Nice Coach (3), Half Foxy (7)
This race has been scratched down to six with the loss of Purely Given and Top Gato (the original second and third selections), but lost none of its early speed. This makes longshot Atomic even more of an emphatic top selection. With Bumpy Cat, Chatito, Hawks Nest, and Half Foxy all being need-the-lead types, Atomic will have plenty to chase. He does have a win over the Arlington course, and drops in for a tag for the first time ever. Also, both of his wins are at six furlongs. Be Nice Coach is the only other off-pace type in the field. Though his best races have him stalking quite close to the pace, he has never been the type to set the fractions. He has also been second in all three efforts over Arlington poly. Among the Speedy Brigade, Half Foxy has shown the best ability to succeed on a contested pace, giving him the best chance to survive on the front end. He also has three wins in just eight starts on polytrack, and four wins at the distance.
Race 2: $7,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races since November 23 OR N4L, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack
Selections: Malbros (10), Brilliantlee (5), Iver With an E (9)
Malbros takes a big class drop here, having tried allowance company in his first two starts for trainer Manny Perez. He drops back down to a more reasonable claiming level here, having missed by just a neck against $8,000 starter-optional types three starts back. He has done his best work at the distance, and is versatile enough to run well from the front, just off the pace, or midpack. In a race with a decent amount of possible speed but no ensured duel, that will prove helpful. Brilliantlee drops from open $10,000 company at Tampa in his last two starts, and switches from turf to polytrack. It will be his first start on the poly, but if he handles it, he should be well set. His speeds are strong for the field, and trainer Dale Bennett, wins 20% of the time with shippers. He also gets back Luis Garcia, who rode him to a win and a second-place finish over the winter at Tampa. Iver With an E had been entered in the allowance feature yesterday, but scratched for this softer and more realistic spot. He beat similar last out over the same distance and surface, and has been able to string together multiple races with similar speed figures as he showed last out. He also comes in second off the lay, a circumstance in which trainer Richard Scherer wins at a 26% clip.
Race 3: Allowance ($24,500 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, state bred, or restricted OR N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf
Selections: Scatladybdancing (7), Penelope Perfect (2), Dance With Kitten (3 – undersides only)
Scatladybdancing runs for a trainer best known for dirt horses, but she showed last out that she could do well on the green stuff. She blew the break, got left almost twenty lengths back, and still closed to finish third beaten just three lengths behind a good horse in Voluptuous. That was her first shot against older. She stretched out to a mile and a sixteenth here, but that should not be a bridge too far for this daughter of Scat Daddy. If she can run her style, a bit closer to the pace, she should be tough. Penelope Perfect was sixth last out in the same race that Scatladybdancing comes in from, but she does her better work at 1 1/16 miles than at a flat mile. She gets a rider change to five-pound bug Mitchell Murrill, and her back speed from Arlington last summer compare very well with this field. Likely favourite Dance Wtih Kitten should hit the board against this crowd. She has finished in the money in her last seven starts, and in eleven of her fifteen career starts. However, only two of those have been wins, and only one of those wins came on grass. Her form suggests her to be a must-use under, but nothing suggests her to be attractive on top at a short price.
Race 4: $7,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L OR three years old, one mile on the polytrack
Selections: El Chuvasco (4), Reigning Catfish (11), Hadrian (7)
Summer In Montana looks like lone speed here, but in several of his recent races he has looked the lone speed. His recent form has been too bad to trust even with such a pace advantage. El Chuvasco is an off-pace type, but has been able to close well into a slow pace in the past. His recent speeds have not been the best, but look back to all of his poly races and you see speeds more than competitive here. He revers to rider Florent GEroux, who rode him to a second-place finish at this distance and surface last year. Reigning Catfish finished third at this level last out, and stretches out to a flat mile here. Trainer Tom Swearingen wins at 26% (with a dynamite +$4.11 ROI) with sprint-to-route stretchers, and new rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. has been winning at a 20% clip this meet. He should be able to stalk close to the pace, and take (or even just inherit) the lead when Summer in Montana falters. Hadrian is the ultimate defensive use. The drop to $7,500 company after he just beat $16,000 N3Ls so convincingly (and went off favoured against $25,000 N2Ls two back) looks suspicious. However, trainer Michael Stidham’s 25% win rate and 64% in-the-money rate with class drops of two rungs or more suggests that he can and will win with such precipitous class-droppers.
Race 5: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L OR $20,000 claiming price, five furlongs on the turf
Selections: Shere Khan (6), Uno Pecador (9), Zip’s Moondance (8)
As is common for a turf dash, there is a lot of early speed, and a lot of one-way speed. Shere Khan has shown speed, but he can also lie in wait and pounce late at a sprint distance. This will be his first try on the grass, but one of his half-siblings has won over the grass, and enough in his breeding suggests he could do well first time on the turf. He beat open allowance company last out in the Hawthorne mud, and if the speed he has shown on dirt can translate to the grass, Shere Khan can win this at a square price. Uno Pecador steps up from a win last out in open $16,000 company at this surface and distance. Second off the lay here, he has won his last four. He is part of the speed brigade, but has shown the ability to run as fast as any of these early, and succeed on a contested pace. Strong speed jockey E. T. Baird returns to the irons. Zip’s Moondance, the least experienced horse in this field, won a five-furlong dash over the Saratoga main last year in his debut. He has not raced since. He is three facing older for the first time, but if that speed he showed last out translates to turf, he contends. He runs for trainer Larry Rivelli, 27% off these long lays, and has a work tab long enough to suggest fitness. He also should be able to handle turf, being by City Zip out of a Giant’s Causeway mare.
Race 6: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, five furlongs on the turf
Selections: Over Again (2), Im Moneyinthebank (9), Crissy Field (7)
Over Again drops from $50,000 N2L company on the poly last out, and dials back to a turf sprint. She has only tried going short on grass once before, but finished second against similar at Hawthorne in that one attempt. Trainer Brian Williamson has positive ROIs both when dropping two or more classes, as well as with runners in their second grass race. Pacewise she should be near the front, but has been able to run well on a contested pace or from a stalking spot. Im Moneyinthebank cuts back to a dash distance, and drops out of allowance company. She broke her maiden at five furlongs on the Arlington grass last year, and also finished third going five and a half against tougher last summer on the same course. She should get a good stalking trip; if she kicks on well enough late, she should have open grass in front of her. Crissy Field, on paper, should win this race. She is third off the lay, has solid speeds, and drops in for a tag for the first time of her career. However, she has been less than consistent in her turf dash attempts, and less than consistent in general. She does her best work from a stalking or midpack place, though she has been known to send on occasion and hit the board. She has some versatility. However, she will likely go off the favourite, and seems best left a defensive use in large multi-race tickets.
Race 7: $25,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the turf
Selections: Away Westward (6), Broken In (11), Supa (9)
Quite a few of these maidens have shown speed in previous races, which should set up well for Away Westward to run at them late. His last race, in which he finished third beaten 1 3/4 lengths after being bumped early, showed that he likely came back the same horse after that long layoff — he just hates, hates, hates dirt. This race is second off the lay for him for trainer Scott Becker, who wins a quarter of the time in that circumstance, and a quarter of the time in maiden claimers. Becker’s A rider Chris Emigh returns to ride, and this should be his day. Broken In drops from $32,000 company at Tampa last out, and dials back to a flat mile. His speeds are in range for the field, and he is another one who has shown some decent races coming in from off the pace. This half to Colonel Joan also gets 20% rider Florent Geroux back in the irons. Supa finished second at this level last time out, and ocmes third off the lay. Trainer Dale Bennett wins at 28% third off. His speeds have been improving across each of his three starts, and a return to last race makes him competitive here. He also came from off the pace in his last start, so should get a good setup. One runner who looks hard to trust here is Hardford Road (2). He drops from maiden special to maiden claiming, usually a positive factor, but it seems strange to drop him in for the tag after he went off favoured in special weight company on debut last out. He may, like his stablemate Hadrian in the 4th, be a defensive use due to Michael Stidham’s sparkling record with big-time class droppers. However, it is hard to affirmatively support him.
Race 8: $16,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L OR three years old, one mile on the turf
Selections: Regimented (9), Hot Head (2), Affirmed Once More (7)
For my detailed discussion of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird.