After five months of racing at Arlington, the curtain closes on the meet today.
The final day’s card, though, is a solid and contentious one. It is anchors by a pair of turf mile stakes, the Teleprompter for open company and the Melanie Frances for fillies and mares, and augmented by eight more races, which include some classy allowances and some very salty claiming groups. Many are good betting races — making today’s pick 6 a challenge. It is worth taking a swing: there is a monster carryover ($351,584.93), a $0.20 minimum, and no jackpot provision anymore given the mandatory closing day payout.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the card!
Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of a race since March 26 OR N4L, races where entered for $4,000 or less not considered for eligibility, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack, post time 1:15pm CDT
Selections: Gold Legion (3), Kids Rule (7), Prince Neff (4)
Gold Legion looks the lone speed in the race, so expect Jerome Lermyte to send him forward and lead the field all the way around. Typically Belterra form does not hold at Arlington, but this seems the exception to the rule. Gold Legion finished second at this trip against similar earlier in the Arlington meet. Furthermore, Gold Legion likely shipped out because Matthews had to go to Ohio anyway — stablemate School Board Prez was heading out to continue her stranglehold on the Ohio-bred filly stakes, and Gold Legion does tend to do his best on dirt. That said, he should wire this bunch. Kids Rule takes a big drop in class here. He faltered against $16,000 company last out, but has some back lines against $25,000 claiming and even allowance company earlier this summer that would obliterate this bunch. He has been able to close into a pace that was not ridiculously fast before, and maybe he is just faster than these. Prince Neff is the in-form Fairmount shipper. He finished in the money seven of eight times at Fairmount this spring and summer, with speed figures perfectly competitive against this bunch. He also does not have to come from way out of it. If his form translates to the polytrack (he is first-time poly here), he could at least hit the board at a price.
Race 2: $40,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, races where entered for $30,000 or less not considered for eligibility, five and a half furlongs on the turf, post time 1:47pm CDT
Selections: Bajan Rhythm (7), Too Tall (6), Pale Hose (3)
Bajan Rhythm is a bit of a longshot price play. This race is loaded with speed, with Chatito, Malachite, and Mister Maestro certain to send, and Chicago Son, Pale Hose, and Too Tall having shown speed as well. Bajan Rhythm is the only dyed-in-the-wool off-pace type, and his strong late pace figures make him interesting here. He is taking a small drop in class, and gets a switch to rider Jerome Lermyte — who is in far better riding form than the last time he took the irons on Bajan Rhythm. Too Tall has been in strong form recently, and has shown on several occasions that he does not need to be right on the lead to win. That will help him, with all the speed in this race. He does have a win and a third in his two turf dash tries, and he runs for the 32% trainer/jockey combination of Ingrid Mason and Julio Felix. Pale Hose has been in strong form since coming off a yearlong lay. He needed a start to get back on the rails, but then won two straight turf dashes, getting the best of speed duels both times. Last out, he started from a bit off the pace, and missed the bob against next-out winner Imperial Robyn. This all bodes well for his chances, both given the class of horses he faces today as well as the proliferation of speed.
Race 3: $15,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, five furlongs on the turf, post time 2:19pm CDT
Selections: Miss Post Oaks (5), Aniell (1), Praise the Kitten
Gilded Argument was originally the top pick, but a vet scratch the day of the race. This makes the race a bit of an ALL button affair. It also leaves Miss Post Oaks, a Fairmount shipper, as the only one making The Drop from maiden special to first-time tag. She does seem to have a touch of the second-itis, with five seconds in eight starts. However, she does try the grass for the first time here, and being out of a Mizzen Mast mare, that may be what she needs to figure it out. Aniell drops to the lowest level of her career, and makes her first start for the Frank Springer barn. Springer has a solid enough 18% strike rate with runners coming off a three-month or longer lay, and this filly has a long enough worktab to suggest she has acclimated on the ship from Woodbine to Arlington. If she runs back to some of her races against much better last out, she could find her bearings here. Praise the Kitten is a twelve-start maiden, but she is at least consistent enough to run speeds that compare well with this set. She should at least hit the board with these. Even though this is the sort of race in which a first-time starter would default to this third spot here, Funny Bunny holds no real appeal. The breeding is not precocious, and the trainer’s maiden stats inspire little confidence.
Race 4: $8,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five furlongs on the turf, post time 2:51pm CDT
Selections: Somali Byrd (4), Crissy Field (8), Hoist the Colors (3)
This race drew a lot of speed, and Somali Byrd is the only real off-pace type. She steps in from an easier race last out, in which She’s Lit Up (who runs here) had her way on the front end. This pace should set up completely differently than that outing, though, with Somali Byrd getting the best of it. She has form earlier in the meet against far tougher than this. She stands to rally late, get her picture taken, and again be a popular offering at the claim box. Crissy Field drops in from a win against beaten $16,000 company last out. In that win, she was able to press a contentious pace, and kick clear to prevail by daylight. That ability to run well with a contested pace should help her here. She gets Mitchell Murrill back in the irons from her last two races (both wins), and trainer Tammy Domenosky tends to do well when dropping horses in class off wins. Hoist the Colors is not a sprinter, but she is a horse who has shown the ability to handle a protracted duel and get the best of it. Her speeds are in range, and the smart, adaptable Chris Emigh is in the irons. It’s not a lot to go on, but it’s the most anyone else has given the likely pace meltdown.
Race 5: Allowance ($27,500 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $9,800 twice OR non-winners of two state-bred races other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N4L, six furlongs on the polytrack, post time 3:23pm CDT
Selections: Rivzinthehouse (1), Reigning Catfish (4), Armando’s Star (6)
Though a few others in the field have shown some ability on the front end (Slip Kid, Armando’s Star, Gyp Rope), Rivzinthehouse is the only real one-way speed — but the fastest one early, by far. He drops down from state-bred stakes company last out back into allowance company; given his performances in high-priced claimers and open allowance company earlier this meet, his form should be right in line with what is needed here. He is fast enough to get to the front, and E. T. Baird should win a game of catch-me-if-you-can. Reigning Catfish has been in great form since being claimed by trainer Jere R. Smith earlier this summer. His speeds are solid, and he reliably fires from off the pace. He has also shown the ability to close into paces that are not all that fast, something that should help him here with the runaway Rivzinthehouse. He loses the services of regular rider Florent Geroux (who is not at Arlington today), but is in the capable hands of 18% sprint rider Chris Emigh. Armando’s Star faltered last out, but has shown the ability to rebound quickly after a disappointing race. He has generally done solid work with Mitchell Murrill in the irons; Murrill returns today. If Murrill can get him to relax and not let Rivzinthehouse burn him out (something he did well four starts back, when he tracked and made a late run on lone speed Lewys Vaporizer, finishing a close second), Armando’s Star should at least hit the board here.
Race 6: Melanie Frances Stakes, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile on the turf, post time 3:54pm CDT
Selections: Be Playful (6), Notte d’Oro (2), Puntsville (5)
For my detailed analysis of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Race 7: Teleprompter Stakes, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the turf, post time 4:25pm CDT
Selections: Yankee Dealer (7), Super Soldier (2), Key to Power (4)
For my detailed analysis of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Race 8: Allowance ($22,050 purse), three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, one mile on the turf, post time 4:54pm CDT
Selections: Spark Kit (6), Prima Storm (9), Five Green Stars (8)
Spark Kit is cross-entered in this race and the Teleprompter, and he really should go here. He does his best work on the front end. There is a plethora of speed in the Teleprompter, but he should be easily faster early than Greyfell or Prima Storm in this race. Even if one of those outguns him out of the gate, he has shown a rating gear as well. He gets rider Rosemary Homeister, Jr. back in the irons; they have done well in the past, and Homeister typically gets live mounts from trainer Gerald Aschinger. Prima Storm broke his maiden last out against special weight company over the same course and distance as he covers today. In that win, he was on the front end, but showed the ability to battle, kick clear, and repel a late run. That ability should help him post the most credible challenge to Spark Kit, assuming he brings his best. He has some solid works leading into this race, and trainer Louie Roussel does win at a solid 17% with last-out maiden winners. Five Green Stars likes this course, having hit the board in all four tries over it. Though he is an off-pace type, he has shown the ability to close well into paces that are not especially fast, which should bolster his case should Spark Kit get his way on the front end. He also keeps Tim Thornton in the irons. Thornton and trainer Michael Reavis have combined for a +$1.55 ROI together in 15 starts over the last two months.
Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 5:22pm CDT
Selections: Clever Yank (5), Shadrach Bond (6), Hotter N Blazes (2)
Clever Yank comes into this race second off the layoff, an 18% (and +$1.09 ROI) proposition for trainer Anthony Mitchell. He should get some pace to chase with the likes of B Manone, Wolf Creek, and Smokey’s Bandit in the field, and should fire assuming last out was just a question of him needing a race after two and a half months away. He had some strong races over polytrack with Jerome Lermyte in the irons, and Lermyte has the call again today. Shadrach Bond takes a drop in company here — even though the tag is a bit higher, he drops from an open $4,000 into a $5,000 N2L, a much softer condition. He has run some decent races either on or just off the lead, and both the gameness he showed three back and the ten-pound weight break should help him here. This will also be Shadrach Bond’s first try on the turf — with his dam having produced another turf winner, that warrants a shot in this relatively weak field. Hotter N Blazes is aptly named, having burned a lot of money by finishing off the board as the favourite in the last two starts. However, he takes a huge class drop here, stretches out to a mile and a sixteenth for the first time, and makes his first start for the barn of Alnaz Ali. He also goes first-time blinkers on, and has been gelded since the barn change. His stalking style should keep him out of the real fight on the front-end, but set him as one of the first to pounce as the speed fades. He is making all the right changes, and should be at least a defensive cover in multi-race bets.
Race 10: $7,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of two races since March 26, 2015 OR N4L, races where entered for $5,000 or less not considered for eligibility), one mile on the polytrack, post time 5:50pm CDT
Selections: Zumba It (3), Nikaluk (9), Life Is a Ride (4)
The final race of the 2015 Arlington meet is a salty polytrack mile for fillies and mares. The one-turn polytrack mile is its own specialty, and Zumba It has suggested that it is her thing. She has won both of her starts over the polytrack, including an emphatic win at this level over this one-turn mile trip. She has shown the ability to win from on the lead or rally from a few lengths off. Expect the latter here, as Julie S. and Annie Bellum are likely to send and get locked up on the front end. Nikaluk has a stalking style as well, and has speeds that are strong for this field. She does have three wins and five more on-the-board finishes over the Arlington poly, inducing a gutsy win against similar company at the one-turn polytrack mile earlier this meet. She has been competitive in open $8,000 company in her last two starts, and this little class break may be exactly what she needs to get back in the winners’ circle. Life Is a Ride tries polytrack for the first time here. She has never done the one-turn mile, but has been able to win at shorter one-turn distances, as well as two-turn miles. This suggests she could handle this trip. She drops from a second-place in protected company at Fairmount Park. Her stalking to midpack style should fit this race well, and if her form from the summer can translate from dirt to polytrack, she could be a threat. She should also be a decent price, given that bettors at Arlington can sleep on Fairmount shippers.