Most eyes may be on the Travers today at Saratoga, but Arlington has a full card, including the last stakes race of the meet: the Arlington-Washington Lassie. The card also features a bumper crop of maiden races: races one through four are all maiden races, with two special weights and two maiden claimers. Both of the special weights are for juvenile fillies, so between that and the Lassie, they take the spotlight.
The card has been washed off the turf, but selections are current for polytrack and the scratches.
Race 1: Maiden special weight ($21,600 purse), two-year-old fillies, Illinois-bred, six furlongs on the polytrack, post time 1:15pm CDT
Selections: Prairie Chick (1), Strawberry Bomb (7), Dundalk Bay (6)
Prairie Chick drops here off of a good second on the Million undercard against open juvenile fillies. She was beaten by a very well-intentioned Moms Choice there. Her dam won second time out, and her sire is among several out of his dam who have gotten the ball rolling at age two. Strawberry Bomb does not start for the hottest first-out barn in the world, but the breeding is there. Both siblings to have started at two won at two, and Munnings babies win early and often. The worktab is long, and has a recent work as long as the race. Dundalk Bay is another who does not come from a hot first-out barn, but half-sibling Naux Faux Pas won first out at two over polytrack. The worktab is long, and she has a couple of five-furlong moves leading into this race.
Race 2: Maiden special weight ($21,600 purse), two-year-old fillies, five furlongs on the polytrack (originally carded for turf), post time 1:46pm CDT
Selections: Recognition (6), Carita (5), Wayaway (8)
Recognition comes out for the second time for sharp juvenile trainer Jim DiVito, and makes a couple of changes. She swaps to rider Chris Emigh, and gets blinkers added for the first time. After going off slowly last time out, DiVito also send her for a gate work between that race and this one. The experience should help her along, and she should improve. Carita is a first-time starter for trainer Ingrid Mason, who has won with four of her last twenty debuters in maiden special weights. Two works back she fired a very fast five-furlong drill, as long as this race, over the polytrack. She should be ready. Wayaway, an Illiois-bred, remains in open maiden company instead of dropping to the state-bred race today. Two of her siblings won second time out, and another won third time out. She also gets a change to rider Jose Valdivia, the hottest on the grounds currently.
Race 3: $25,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, five furlongs on the polytrack (originally carded for turf), post time 2:17pm CDT
Selections: Bartbaalu (3), Jais Michael (6), Chicory Blue (7)
Bartbaalu surfaces for the first time since Marc, but moves into the barn of Robert Dobbs for the first time. Dobbs has won four of his last 20 with runners off such long lays (for a +$5.63 ROI), and has won five of his last 25 with first-timers for his barn (for a +$4.06 ROI). Bartbaalu does have a speed figure from last Hawthorne meet that would be nice here, and has some harp works leading into this race. He has longshot potential written all over him. Jais Michael comes here third off the lay, drops into the claiming ranks for the first time, and adds Lasix. He also cuts to the shortest distance of his career. With speed figures consistently in range of what he needs to beat this set, he is making all the right changes to break through today. Chicory Blue re-drops to claiming company, and goes up for the lowest tag of his career. His speeds are sharp for the field, and ha has not yet tried a distance this short. The off-board finished all four times over poly look concerning, but they are against more difficult company than he faces today.
Race 4: $7,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the polytrack, post time 2:48pm CDT
Selections: Sweet Lucy Too (5), Smuggled Jewell (4)
Sweet Lucy Too is still lightly raced; this will only be her fifth start. She has hit the board in her last three, two at this level, but gets a rider upgrade to Emmanuel Esquivel here. That may be the last bit she needs to get over the hump, especially since her speeds are consistently better than anyone here other than trap horse W W Afleet. She also gets a move to the Tom Swearingen barn, a profitable move recently. Smuggled Jewell drops to the lowest tag of her career, and has some solid speeds back for her old barn. She gets a ten-pound weight break with bug boy Keiber Rengifo aboard. She hit the board for the first time ever last out, and was running along well enough late. With no one else particularly attractive after the scratch of Lyndas Shootin Par, why not consider War Dress? She drops in class from her first start, and has only started once before. She ducked at the break, and could improve with the race under her belt, especially with her dam having won second out.
W W Afleet will take a lot of money, but is a play-against here. She drops from special weight to a basement maiden claimer, and her best would obliterate this field. Still, she faltered badly last out, and then was a vet scratch from a maiden special weight at Fairmount before this race. She is too dicey a proposition to take at her inevitably chalky price.
Race 5: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one mile on the polytrack (originally carded for turf), post time 3:19pm CDT
Selections: Bold Ransom (8), Gritty Greeley (9), Lights On Brite (7, underneath)
Bold Ransom was the enthusiastic top pick on dirt; with the move to poly, he becomes even stronger. After two ambitious starts against $16,000 company, he drops to a more reasonable class level. He has a win going a mile on poly at Turfway, as well as a second at the one-turn mile earlier this meet. He also gets a rider switch to the blazing-hot Jose Valdivia. Gritty Greeley makes his first start against winners here. His speeds fit, and that last-out maiden win did come over poly. The stretch to a mile is new, but being out of a Slew City Slew mare, he could do it. He does lose Jose Valdivia to Bold Ransom, but Tim Thornton should fit him well, particularly given that he does well near the front. Lights On Brite appeals little for the win, but his 12-0-3-4 polytrack line suggests he handles the surface well enough to hit the undersides. Some of his speeds fit very well, and he faces an easier bunch than he has seen all meet.
Race 6: Starter optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $5,000 or less since January 1, 2014 OR claiming price $12,500, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack (originally carded for turf), post time 3:50pm CDT
Selections: Hollywood Script (11), Tall Grass Cat (5), Montana Kid (10)
This race was eviscerated by off-turf scratches. With a field of only five remaining, early speed should be very dangerous, and Hollywood Script has that for days. He also has a solid 5-2-0-1 career line on the synthetic. He steps up in class from last out, but did wire a short field of open $12,500 claimers two starts back going this distance. He could do that again here. Tall Grass Cat is likely the only runner in the field with enough early speed to be near Hollywood Script early. He drops down from a couple of ambitious allowance placements, and had some strong races against $5,000 company on the polytrack earlier this meet. He has a win and two seconds over poly, all this meet, and should appreciate the short field and the easier spot. Montana Kid wheels back after just a week — second off a layoff of almost three years. He comes in first off the claim by trainer Larry Rivelli, a 23% win proposition. He has never raced on polytrack before, but an improvement off his last start makes him competitive. He has also got a back race in which he was close to the lead, so he could try that again here. He is noted as a first-race gelding, though with him wheeling back in only a week after such a long lay, odds are he was gelded before his last.
Race 7: Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes (Listed), two-year-old fillies, seven furlongs on the polytrack, post time 4:21pm CDT
Selections: Silver Lode (2), Inconclusive (8), Venus Valentine (4)
For my full analysis, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Race 8: $16,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, one mile on the polytrack (originally carded for turf), post time 4:52pm CDT
Selections: Where’s Wanda (6), Absolutely Classy (5), Julie’s Lil Devil (7)
Where’s Wanda looks like the only real speed here after the scratch of Backseat Romance. Though she has not won a race since October of 2013, the scratches leave her in a great place to take the front and gallop around. She gets a rider change here to Chris Emigh, a rider who has been very smart about finding and exploiting pace advantages this meet. Emigh also leaves Absolutely Classy to ride her. Where’s Wanda has not won on polytrack yet, but does have three on-the-board finishes over it, suggesting some affinity. Absolutely Classy drops to the lowest class level of her career. She may be farther off the pace than would be good in such a short field, but she could be just the fastest horse in the field. She hasn’t run since May, but trainer Robert Dobbs has been firing at 20% (with a +$5.63 ROI) off lays of 90 days or more. Julies Lil Devil is a pace play. Her one race on polytrack was abysmal, but it was also against harder, and only her second career race. The light may have come on in her last two starts, and though these horses are tougher than the ones she faced in maiden $7,500 company, she ran close enough to the pace last out to have a shot here.