The bad news is, we’re off the turf again at Arlington. The good news is, the wicked speed bias that carried through Thursday, Friday, and early Saturday (before the storms) on the Polytrack seems to have eased up a bit later in yesterday’s card, so there’s some chance for fairer going. There is also a fun two-year-old maiden special weight — that was originally carded on the poly, so it was not hit with a rash of scratches.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: $7,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, three years old OR N3L, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack
Selections: Julie S. (6), Bonita Rita (5), Melody by Mancini (3)
There is not a ton of speed in this race, and Julie S. should be fast enough and good enough to get on the front and lead the field around. If she gets some pushback, she has been game enough to stay in the running nonetheless. The switch to rider Florent Geroux also appeals. Bonita Rita is the only one in the field who looks primed to give Julie S. that pushback. Though she hails from the Gabe Retana barn, which may be the coldest one on the grounds, she does have speeds that fit and has shown polytrack form. Melody by Mancini has been in better form recently, and switches back to fillies-only company after facing boys last time. As long as the track is playing even somewhat fairly, she should be fast enough to get a share here.
Race 2: Allowance ($22,500 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $9,800 twice OR non-winners of two state-bred races of $9,800 other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N4L, six furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Goesse (4), Purely Given (6), Plunder (3, undersides only)
This field scratched down to 5 with the defection of Rivzinthehouse. The defection is a shame, from a betting perspective — he was going to take a lot of money as the favourite, and does not run well with contention on the front end. He was going to get that here with Goesse. The defection makes Goesse likely lone speed, though he will probably be very bet down as the favourite. Still, the combination of his speedy style and the fact that he comes second off the lay for Tammy Domenosky makes him the goods here. Purely Given won in $25,000 beaten company last out, first off the claim by Scott Becker, and steps up to protected company here. He has a solid 11-3-1-4 line at six furlongs, and has hit the board in five of seven starts on poly. He has run well stalking close enough to the pace to keep Goesse near his sights. Plunder has a case of second-itis, but fires reliably enough (20-1-4-7 on the track, 18-1-3-6 at the distance) to make him a good key for second and third. He has hit the board in his last five starts, four of which have been against conditioned state-bred allowance company, and is fast enough to get a share against this set again today.
Race 3: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile on the polytrack (originally carded for turf)
Selections: Sweet Jess (2), Weekend Wish (4), Grace of Greatness (7)
Sweet Jess is the fastest horse in this race, and she should be forwardly placed in a race with almost no speed. She drops from starter-optional company in her last two starts. The 4-0-0-0 synthetic line does not inspire a lot of confidence, but she was fourth beaten just two lengths on polytrack against harder last out. In a relatively weak open $8,000 field, sometimes the best horse just wins, and that should be Sweet Jess. Weekend Wish intrigues mainly on the trainer angle — Bill Gowan (of Ride On Curlin fame) does not typically ship runners to Arlington. However, this ship makes sense — he claimed her for $5,000 at Churchill last out, notches her up a bit in class here, and puts her back on her best surface: polytrack. If she can stay close enough to the pace, something likely given her running lines, she should be best set to take advantage if Sweet Jess falters. Grace of Greatness is the only horse in this field who has shown much desire to be right on the front end. Sweet Jess should be her only likely competition, but even she takes back frequently. Her form has been poor lately, but she does drop in class and get a ten-pound weight break. However, if speed does well in the first two races and she drifts longer than her 12/1 morning line, she merits a flyer.
Race 4: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, one mile on the polytrack (originally carded for turf)
Selections: Shadow Valley (1), Go Bonnie Go (7), Fire Ship (6)
Lone speed in a short field is a dangerous thing, and Shadow Valley looks like just that here. Go Bonnie Go is the only other horse who has shown much in the way of early speed, and Shadow Valley has markedly better early pace figures. Shadow Valley also has her only win to date over this same polytrack one-turn mile that she will cover today. Go Bonnie Go drops in class here. She has been on the shelf for the last two months, and makes her first start for trainer Larry Rivelli, who has been firing at 27% on the meet. She will not likely have the early zip of Shadow Valley, but should be in striking distance should Shadow Valley prove not good enough. Fire Ship comes into this race third off the lay, and finished second in her only previous start over the polytrack. That was a well-beaten second, but there is no La Bruna Forte in this field. In terms of pace, she should not be too far back. She also gets rider Jose Valdivia Jr. back; she has been second in her two starts with Valdivia aboard.
Race 5: Maiden special weight ($21,600 purse), two-year-old fillies, five furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Wake Up and Run (3), Silver Kitty (6), Silver Lode (2)
Wake Up and Run is one of only two horses in this field of seven who has started already. She finished a well-beaten sixth in her only start, but there does not appear to be anyone as imposing as Amira J in this bunch. Sire Three Hour Nap tends to make precocious babies, and she has a half-sibling who won first out. She keeps top rider Mitchell Murrill, and is worth another shot here. Silver Kitty runs for the barn of Wayne Catalano, who fires at 20% with first-timers and 27% with juveniles. She has been working regularly since April, so should be fit. Her dam won first out, and her only half-sibling to rae won second out. Silver Kitty should be fit to fire early. Silver Lode has a solid worktab; her last two have been as long as this race. Though trainer Doug Matthews does not win often with first-timers, Matthews got her half-sibling Shotgun Luke home first out. She is also half to Prado U, who broke his maiden at age two for the same connections.
Race 6: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, five and a half furlongs on polytrack (originally carded for turf)
Selections: Hothalfone (10), Too Tall (2), Rikco Man (6)
This race has scratched all the way down to four. Still, with both Chatito and Rikco Man still in, the pace should be lively. Hothalfone comes in here main track only, and should be able to make a solid outside rally as the speedy types tire. He revers to rider Santo Sanjur, with whom he has done his better work, and is versatile enough to be right near the lead or rally from midpack. Too Tall tends to be forwardly placed, but is more ratable than Chatito or Rikco Man. He keeps trainer Ingrid Mason’s “A” rider Julio Felix aboard. He also has a win over the Arlington polytrack two back, showing an aptitude for the surface. Among the two one-way speeds, Rikco Man looks preferable to Chatito since he has shown better form on a contested lead. Though the drop to claimers helps Chatito, since he has done his best work up for claiming tags, he tends to do best on an easy early lead. He won’t get that with Rikco Man here.
Race 7: Allowance ($22,050 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $9,800 once OR non-winners of a state bred race once other than maiden, claiming, or starter, OR N2L, six furlongs on the polytrack
Selections: Dr. Clark (5), Armando’s Star (1), Chicago Son (3)
This race drew no shortage of early speed, and Dr. Clark should be able to sit right off of it and make a run. Open allowance company last out, in his first start since being claimed into the Scott Becker barn, proved a bit much. Here he drops in among state-breds, and stretches back out to a distance at which he is 10-3-2-2. He also has three wins in seven starts on polytrack. Armando’s Star should be part of the speed brigade, but looks the best of it. He has shown the ability to grind and duel. He also showed a new side last out when he sat off of runaway speed Lewys Vaporizer, and almost caught him. He keeps Mitchell Murrill from that ride, too. Chicago Son races for the first time since last October. Still, he has a solid worktab coming into this race, with plenty of five- and six-furlong workouts. Both of his wins last year came at six furlongs, and one of those came over the Arlington polytrack. He should be able to stalk off the pace, as he showed in his last-out win. If he has progressed between ages two and three, he could make a splash in this, his first start versus older.
Race 8: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, one mile on the polytrack (originally carded for turf)
Selections: Summer in Montana (6), El Chuvasco (5), Legal Deed (3)
This race was marred by scratches — though a field of nine originally entered, only five will see the starter. This race also lacks much in the way of speed and polytrack form. The old angle of “lone speed in a short field” hits Summer in Montana right between the eyes, and this runner has also done his best work on polytrack. He has been showing improved form in his last few starts, and should wire this ragtag bunch. El Chuvasco, on form and speed, is probably the best horse in this field. Unfortunately, El Chuvasco does not like to win horse races. In 33 starts, he has only won twice, though he has hit the board another 13 times. Specifically on synthetic, he is 8-1-4-2. He does his best work rallying off the pace, which does not help given how little speed remains in this race after scratches. El Chuvasco should rack up another second-place finish here.
No one in this field appeals other than that pair, and Blinkers Off will be playing a cold exacta of Summer in Montana over El Chuvasco. However, for the bottom of a trifecta, Legal Deed appeals more than the rest. Spectacular Act has no polytrack form whatsoever, and Document comes here from Belterra. Belterra form does not hold here. At least Legal Deed has a 9-2-1-0 line over the polytrack, and won with Vicente Gudiel aboard two starts back.