Racing is shifting from summer to fall. Saratoga is over, Del Mar is over, and even Arlington is changing a bit. Racing carries on until the end of the month, but the weeks have shortened from four days to three. With that, today’s card marks the end of the end of the racing week.
After most of Thursday and all of Friday being washed off the grass, racing returns to the turf course today. The featured race of the day, a classy juvenile maiden special weight, will go over the grass. Three others are carded for turf, as well.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of two races since February 12 OR non-winners of three races since December 12 OR N4L, races where entered for $4,000 or less not considered in eligibility, six furlongs on the polytrack, post time 1:15pm CDT
Selections: Python (4), Roar of Silence (2), Sacred Range (5, undersides only)
With Roar of Silence, La Pinata, Legend Forever, and Sterlingten all doing their best work on the front end, things should set up well for Python to come rolling late. Python comes in third off a long layoff, and finished second last out behind wire-to-wire winner Frostbite Falls over this same distance and surface. No one stands to get it as easy up front as Frostbite Falls did that day, and Python should benefit. Among the speed brigade, Roar of Silence looks the most likely to stick around. He loves polytrack (5-2-1-1 lifetime) and the six-furlong distance (6-3-1-2 lifetime), and has shown the ability to slug it out or even press for a bit before taking over. Sacred Range is the only horse in the field other than Python who does his best work coming from off the pace. He has hit the board against similar company in his last two starts, and should hit the board against this set. However, with the 14-0-1-4 career line at six furlongs on the main, and his one-for-24 record on polytrack, he will be best kept out of the top spot.
Race 2: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 1:46pm CDT
Selections: Kamchatka (4), Montana Kid (3), Shoot the Loop (6)
With the scratch of Cardston, the front end is up for the taking. Look for Kamchatka to take that. Though most of Kamchatka’s recent races having him rallying from well off, he has been able to adapt by sending against short, paceless fields before. He also takes a drop in class here, and should improve against this easier set. Montana Kid has won both his starts since a layoff of almost three years. He drops back to open $8,000 company, the same level he beat first time back. He is a closer, but was able to run down runaway speed Hollywood Script in a short field last out, and could do that again today. Shoot the Loop just missed at this level last out, going far wide and finishing just a nose behind the aforementioned Montana Kid. He was also second at the same level two starts back, with rider Mitchell Murrill aboard both times. He will need a bit of pace help (most likely provided if Snapped were to press Kamchatka up front), but his current form suggests he should be a factor late.
Race 3: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, three years old OR N3L, races where entered for $3,200 or less not considered in eligibility, one mile on the polytrack, post time 2:17pm CDT
Selections: Dayin Deauville (2), Dennie’s Dream (5), Defiant Susie (4, undersides only)
The old adage goes that if you plan to win first out at the next condition, you cut the tag in half. It is a move that has worked recently for trainer Scott Becker, and he does it again here with Dayin Deauville. She beat $7,500 N2L company last out, on August 23, and returns here against $4,000 beaten. That last-out win came at a one-turn polytrack mile, the same trip she gets today, with Santo Sanjur back in the irons. With a few possible speeds (Lady Scores, Fort Suprise, Dennie’s Dream, or Wood Not Mind) but no decisive one-way speed, Dayin Deauville’s stalking style should set her up well to be in range, but not get cooked if the speeds lock up. Dennie’s Dream missed by just a nose last out against $7,500 beaten company, and keeps rider Chris Emigh from that effort. She has a solid 7-2-1-2 line over polytrack, and that last-out second came at the one-turn polytrack mile. A return to that last effort makes her competitive here. Defiant Susie drops down after having hit the board in four straight starts against $7,500 beaten company, with two of those races coming at the one-turn mile. She is hard to take on the win end, particularly as chalk, since she has a 14-1-4-4 line on polytrack and has not won a race since November of 2013. Still, she hits the board reliably on the Arlington main, and her speeds are competitive. She should hit the board, but she will not likely win this.
Race 4: $40,000-$35,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 2:48pm CDT
Selections: Mystra (3), Nook (1), Tasseography (6)
Mystra broke her maiden last out going a mile on the grass. though that was over firm turf, she hit the board against maiden special weight company two back over the yielding sort of going she gets again today. What makes Mystra interesting is that she has at least tried to go to the lead before — and this race is full of runners who come from midpack or closing spots. Trying that tactic again in such a paceless race could pay off. Nook tried turf for the first time last out, and though she was sixth, she was only beaten 2 1/4 lengths for all of it, and posted a career best Brisnet figure in the process. She also drops in class here. She gets a rider change to Chris Emigh, who is shrewd and adaptable enough that he should get Nook in the right place. Tasseography is untested on yielding going, but finished third over good turf last out. Particularly interesting about that effort, given the lack of pace on paper in this field, were her sharp early pace figures. Though she was nowhere near the dependable early speedster Kana that day, perhaps she shows some speed here. Tasseography comes in third off the lay as well, a positive-ROI circumstance for trainer Jan Ely.
Race 5: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack, post time 3:19pm CDT
Selections: Prince Cheval (2), Hollow Creek (5)
This race originally drew seven, but is down to a field of four after scratches. Larry Rivelli entered a pair of speed horses here: Prince Cheval and Devil and a Half, but Devil and a Half was a late scratch. Prince Cheval does have sharp speed in a short field, a strong asset. The drop from $7,500 to $4,000 jumps out a bit, but Larry Rivelli has been winning with these sorts of class drops in recent weeks, and should do so again here. Hollow Creek is the only one in the field who appeals at all to beat Prince Cheval; it would be an upset, but he could do it. He has solid records over polytrack (5-1-1-2) and at the 1 1/16 mile distance (5-2-1-1), and some recent speeds that compare favourably with the field. In terms of pace, he can win a race from almost anywhere: the lead, a stalking spot, or well off. Given the short field, and the fact that he likely cannot outgun either of the Rivelli runners early, expect him to stalk. He did mow down Prince Cheval earlier in the season; maybe he does so again.
Race 6: $15,000-$10,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, five furlongs on the turf, post time 3:50pm CDT
Selections: Mongolian Sunday (6), Mean Intentions (3), Turbo Pup (7)
There should be no shortage of speed in this race, but Mongolian Sunday should be tough enough and fast enough to come out of the dogfight on top. He tried a turf dash for the first time last out, pressed the pace, and missed by just a nose behind Greeley’s Special. Greeley’s Special franked the form by winning again last weekend. Rider Santo Sanjur returns to the irons, and has two wins already with trainer Enebish Ganbit in the last two months. (His only other start for Ganbat over that period was that nose defeat on Mongolian Sunday). If he handles the softer going, he should be well set to win. Mean Intentions should also be a pace factor. He comes in for his first race since May. This will only be his fourth start ever, in a career that has been going in fits and starts. He is a bit of a defensive use. Though Mongolian Sunday looks like the best of the speed, Mean Intentions is on The Drop from maiden special to maiden claiming, and trainer Larry Rivelli has won with 15 out of his last 31 runners on that sort of drop. He also gets top front-end jockey E. T. Baird aboard. Finally, if the pace gets way too hot up front (a possibility between the top two and El Junior), Turbo Pup could pick up the pieces. He has finished third in turf dashes at this level in his last two starts, and will be trying softer turf for the first time. He will have to run his best race to date in order to beat this set, but the shape of the race could suit him if he does prove good enough.
Villa Bleu (5) deserves a special mention. He has settled well into professional maiden status: sixteen starts over all sorts of surfaces and distances, with all sorts of riders. Though his numbers are perfectly competitive here, he cannot be trusted on the win end. However, anyone playing intra-race exotics should make sure to use him on undersides.
Race 7: Maiden special weight ($21,600 purse), two year olds, one mile on the turf, post time 4:21pm CDT
Selections: Parlay Ponti (4), Keene Sense (8), Path of David (6)
For my in-depth analysis of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Race 8: $7,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, one mile on the polytrack, post time 4:52pm CDT
Selections: W W Star (6), Alyczara (8), Storm Blaiser (4)
W W Star tried polytrack for the first time last out, and won a $7,500 maiden claiming race at seven furlongs. That came with a stalking trip, something that should help her here, as long as she proves fast enough to keep Storm Blaiser in her sights. She keeps rider Chris Emigh from that effort, and if she takes another reasonable step forward here, she should compete. Trainer Scott Becker does win at 19% with last-out maiden winners, as well as at a smashing 27% with runners stretching from sprint to route. W W Star is the value play here. Alyczara comes into this race second off the lay. Last out, in her first start since November, she broke her maiden by open lengths over $15,000 company at this same surface and distance. Storm Blaiser will likely gun it to the front, but Alyczara should be fast enough to keep her in her sights. Trainer Michael Stidham wins at 18% with last-out maiden winners, and though she loses Florent Geroux’s services, she gains Mitchell Murrill’s. Murrill and Stidham have won at 22% over the last two months, and hit the board at 61%. Storm Blaiser will be the speed here. The only other horse in this field who has shown much right on the front end is Francis Leal, who is just too slow here. Storm Blaiser get a ten-pound weight break with apprentice rider Keiber Rengifo; Rengifo finished second beaten just half a length at this level with Storm Blaiser last out. She has hit the board in all three of her starts over polytrack, and also has a win and a second over the one-turn polytrack mile. This may just be her preferred trip, and speed in a short field is always a nice asset.