The second day of a three-day weekend has arrived, and once more Blinkers Off heads to Arlington for the day. The weather is cooler and more overcast than yesterday, with a little mist falling at times throughout the Chicago area. So far the scratches are few; hopefully the rain will hold off long enough for the card to finish, so the pair of turf races can both stay on.
With that out of the way, time to take a look at the races.
Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of a race since November 24 OR N4L (races where entered for $4,000 or less not counted for eligibility or allowances), one mile on the polytrack
Selections: Eileen Evelyn (1), Tribute to Momma (3), I’ve Heard Rumors (7)
Yesterday, inside speed was great at Arlington. Eileen Evelyn drew the rail, and has better early pace than Salutethehero. Her speed has been solid lately, for this field, and she fits these conditions snugly. Polytrack is not her best surface, but if the track plays in any way today like it did yesterday, she should have enough of an advantage to notch her first polytrack win. The scratch of Salutethehero gives Eileen Evelyn an even easier time up front. Tribute to Momma as solid speed for the field, and finished a solid second last out after a trio of disappointing races. That suggests she could be coming back into form, and she has a decent 8-1-2-2 career line on the polytrack. She also has good versatility of pace, and can run a good race from anywhere between a cozy stalking spot and the clouds. I’ve Heard Rumors is another strong horse for the field and conditions, but the closing style and outside post may be too much for her. Undersides are realistic; a win seems a bridge too far.
Race 2: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred OR N3L OR claiming price $40,000, six furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Creative Art (5), He’saruler (6), Wild Target (2)
For my full analysis of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Race 3: $10,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, six and a half furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Mission Critical (2), Tariff (5), Bold N Grey (6)
This is my weakest opinion of the day, and could be worth hitting the ALL button given that low-level maiden claimers do not tend to be the most formful to begin with. Mission Critical stands out just a bit more than the rest. He drops to the lowest level of his career, gets a rider switch to Florent Geroux, and should not have to go quite as wide as he did last out against tougher. He could also be able to take advantage of the inside speed bias, if that persists today. Mission Critical is the Rivelli B entry; Tariff is the Rivelli A. Making his first start since being reported as a gelding, he drops to the lowest level of his career. Rivelli brings him back second off the lay and second off the claim, both situations in which he is strong. He also finished fifth beaten three against tougher last out; third-place Away Westward franked the form of that race when he returned against similar (maiden $25,000) and won yesterday. The only drawback is the off-pace style, given how the polytrack played yesterday. Bold N Grey cuts back from a mile last out, and tries poly for the first time. The cutback in distance should help him along, and trainer Tom Swearingen tends to do well on the synthetic. Bold N Grey also puts on blinkers for the first time, and should show a bit more speed as a result.
Race 4: Maiden special weight, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five furlongs on the turf
Selections: Looking for a Date (6), Tam (2), Liberty Bond (8)
First-time starter Looking for a Date looks well spotted by trainer Larry Rivelli. Rivelli wins at 26% with debut runners, and has won three of his last ten with turf debuts. Sire Talent Search tends to do well with first-time grass runners, as well. She has a regular worktab leading into this race, and as long as she looks race fit in the paddock, she should be a tough contender here. Keep an eye on whether E. T. Baird is still on his mounts today; he was off yesterday. He was named on Looking for a Date, and if he rides today, he rides maidens well. Tam tries a turf dash for the first time. Despite her pedigree, she has shown her best in shorter races so far, so a turf dash could be exactly what she needs to graduate. Though she steps up from state-bred maidens to open maidens, if she can translate what she showed on poly last out to a turf dash, and runs a little less greenly, she could graduate at a big price. Liberty Bond cuts back to the shortest distance of her career, and faces an easier field than she did last out at Churchill Downs. Her speeds are solid, and her frontrunning style should help in this turf dash. Trainer Michael Stidham and rider Florent Geroux have been a potent pair, as well, winning three of their last five.
Race 5: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Jax Key (4), Smokey’s Bandit (5), Wolf Creek (6)
Jax Key drops to the lowest level of his career, having started twice against $25,000 open maidens. He comes here second off the lay, and cuts back to a sprint for the first time in his career. If he takes a step forward second off the lay, he will be right in range of his competitors. Finally, he gets rider Vicente Gudiel aboard; Gudiel has been cleaning up in polytrack sprints. Smokey’s Bandit drops to the lowest level of his career. After five attempts against maiden special weight company, he tried last out against winners, and finished fourth. He drops back among easier maidens here. That run last out showed he could handle the polytrack; if he builds on that here, he could be tough. Wolf Creek looks the speed of the speed. Though the 6 hole will not help, he could be fast enough to clear anyway. He drops back to state-bred maiden 15 here, a level at which he was second beaten just a length two starts back. He showed improvement on the polytrack last out, his first poly try, and this race could be what he needs to put it all together.
Finally, keep an eye on the rail bias. If inside speed remains pronounced, look at Tail Gunner Carl in the paddock. He comes in off a yearlong lay, but drew the rail and drops to his lowest level yet. The fact that he has had only two works since his layoff does not bode well, but if he looks race fit, he did show speed in his debut. He is not without a shot.
Race 6: $7,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, six furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Foogard (1), All Call (4), Unbridled Mett (7)
Foogard will likely go off one of the longest shots on the board, but there are a few reasons he is worth a swing. He drew the rail, which has been the place to be. Polytrack is his better surface, and he should be stalking in range early. He did not finish his last race, having clipped behind the ill-fated So So Worth It, but has returned with a sharp drill in the meantime. This suggests he will be ready to run. All Call will likely go off favoured, and with good reason. He has the speed to send if he likes, and has survived a contentious pace before. He seems to be a an Oaklawn horse-for-the-course, but may just be faster than these. He tried polytrack for the first time last out, but that attempt came against more difficult. He faces his easiest competition ever, at a distance at which he has won before. He did win his Unbridled Mett comes in third off the layoff, and has hit the board in three of five starts over the polytrack. He gets a rider change to main-track sprint maven Vicente Gudiel, and if he can find the form he showed late in last year’s Arlington meet, he may wire this bunch. Though there are a few other possible speed horses, he is faster early than anyone but All Call. If All Call decides to rate instead — likely, given most of his recent races — Unbridled Mett could get a good frontrunning trip.
Race 7: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred OR N3L OR claiming price $40,000, seven furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: A Shot Away (1), Tiz Lately (2), Bella Ann (6)
My detailed analysis of the race is in the latest Chicago Railbird, but original top choice Sydneyrella scratched from the race. With the defection of Sydneyrella, look at Bella Ann. She stretches out from a win at six furlongs last out, and also has a win at six and a half panels to her name. She also has some money finishing going longer — though this will be her first try at seven furlongs, it should be in her wheelhouse. She has hit the board in four of her seven attempts on the polytrack, and has the versatility to either set the fractions or come from midpack.
Race 8: $16,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N3L OR three years old, one mile on the turf
Selections: Zibby Do (9), Daddy’s Pleasure (10), Chica Bonita (8)
For a race with ten horses in it, there is very little in the way of speed. Zibby Do, the only runner in the field with frontrunning tendencies, should be well set if she can dictate the fractions. She failed as the favourite against similar last out, but that was also her first start since October of last year. She should be fitter second out, and trainer Larry Rivelli wins at 28% with runners secnd off the lay. Daddy’s Pleasure finished second at this level last out, and has been in the money in both her starts on grass. She has the versatility to either stalk the pace or close; look for her to maintain a stalking spot given the lack of speed in this race. She also cuts back to a mile — a distance at which she has won on the polytrack, and which should suit this daughter of Scat Daddy on grass as well. Chica Bonita drops to her lowest class level of the year, since she beat $12,500 beaten company in December. She is a come-from-behind type, but has shown the ability to close into paces that were not excessively fast. She should be just plain fast enough to threaten this company.