We return to Arlington for another weekend of racing. The Purple Violet Stakes, a contentious affair for three-year-old fillies bred in Illinois, anchors the card. However, there are some other solid races on deck today: a well-subscribed maiden special weight sprint, a classy allowance featuring The Zip Zip Man and Dom the Bomb, and a salty main-track route to end the day.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Race 1: $7,500 claiming, N2L, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five and one half furlongs on the polytrack, post time 1:15pm CDT
Selections: La Candelita (4), Wise Future (3), Posh Ruler (1)
This is a field of just six, and speed will be dangerous. La Candelita has that. She cuts back to a dash after a try going six furlongs; a dash is her better distance. She also showed good form on the polytrack last year. She also comes second off the lay, and drops in class from last out. This adds up to a likely wire-to-wire win for La Candelita. Wise Future moves back into a more logical condition: non-winners of two, as opposed to a saltier beaten condition that she tried last time out. She moves to the barn of Armando De La Cerda, who is firing at 21% (with a positive ROI) with runners starting first time for his barn. She also likes going short, having only ever hit the board in five-furlong dashes. Rail-drawn Posh Ruler returns to the same course, distance, and level as last out. She finished a late running second that day, behind a runaway winner but ahead of eight other foes. Her speeds are competitive, and she has done her best work at dash distances. The running style puts her a bit further off the early pace than some, but her form gets her a share.
One to stand against here is Sugar Talk (6). She runs for the first time in over a year, for a trainer who does not always fire first time off a long layoff. This is also a huge drop from the stakes-level horses she was running against before this lay. Finally, her closing style will do her no favours. Going forward, Sugar Talk is a wait-and-see; today, she is a pass.
Race 2: $5,000 claiming, non-winners in 2016 OR N4L, races where entered for $4,000 or less not considered in eligibility, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, post time 1:47pm CDT
Selections: Stef and Me (3), Betty Grables Legs (5), Tiz Happening (2)
Stef and Me does not always send, but if she does, she should get her way on the front end. She also has the ability to stalk, though — helpful if she does not break sharply, or if Betty Grables Legs finds her absolute best early pace. The aforementioned Betty Grables Legs will get the front end should Stef and Me decide to rate. She has a streak of second-itis in her career (as evidenced by her 34-3-8-7 line), but won emphatically three starts back, her last time at this level. Her next two starts came against tougher company, but now that Betty Grables Legs is right-classing, she should figure prominently against this set. Tiz Happening has been off the track since December, and her trainer is not particularly good with long layoff horses. But, Tiz Happening is herself a polytrack maven: three wins and four more money finishes in just nine tries over the Arlington main. She has the versatility to either stalk the pace or rally from well off, and gets a strong rider in Chris Emigh.
Race 3: Allowance, non-winners of $9,800 0nce other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred OR N2L, three-year-olds and up, post time 2:19pm CDT
Selections: The Zip Zip Man (5), Dom the Bomb (3), Ditka (4)
With as much speed as there is in this race (Dom the Bomb, Uno Mas Modelo, and Kyzan all like to be on the front, and even Western Country has sometimes shown that proclivity), The Zip Zip Man makes sense to stalk and pounce here. This sophomore son of City Zip won his only start over the Arlington polytrack last year, a debut maiden victory over a horse who has turned out to be an excellent poly runner in his own right: Shogood. He has not raced since last September, but he has a long worktab, and a trainer (Mike Stidham) whose charges win a quarter of the time first off 90 or more day lays. The Zip Zip Man also gets top rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. in the irons. Should speed survive, or should the track be playing heavily for front-enders, Dom the Bomb is the best on the front end. He has sharp front-end zip, but also an ability to battle or press if necessary. He got mired in a speed duel against similar last out, and was run down by Reigning Catfish. But, Reigning Catfish franked that form next out by finishing a late-running second to Good Bye Greg on a very speed friendly day. Should the frond-end brigade really fall apart, Ditka intrigues. He is the only true closer in the field. He also cuts back to a sprint after a try at a mile last out, and also goes first-time Lasix. Ditka gets a rider upgrade to Mitchell Murrill, and has posted a sharp workout since his last start.
Race 4: Maiden special weight, Illinois-bred, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, post time 2:51pm CDT
Selections: Wayaway (3), Curlinup (9), Greater (6)
Few in this field have shown any early speed, making Wayaway dangerous. Expect her to send and take this field as long as she can. She comes into this race with a long worktab — and her recent drills have been sharp. Wayaway cuts back to a sprint here, and also drops in among state-breds for the first time in her career. Curlinup moves back in against state-breds after a second-place finish against open maiden special weight company at Prairie Meadows last out. She has not shown much early speed, and would benefit if someone else went with Wayaway early. (Perhaps Dorothe Marie, with the rider change to E. T. Baird?) But, her speeds fit, and she has been in good form since leaving Fair Grounds for the midwest. Finally, first-time starter Greater intrigues. Though sire Spanish Steps does not scream precocity, that quality exists in the underside of her pedigree: her dam won second out, as did the only other horse out of her dam to race. Also quite interesting is the fact that she started working at Fairmount, and then moved up north. That is nothing I have ever seen from trainer Doug Matthews; he does not keep a string down there.
Race 5: $25,000 claiming, three years old OR N3L, races for non-winners of two or three for a claiming tag of $20,000 or less not considered for eligibility, three-year-olds and up, post time 3:23pm CDT
Selections: Wild Mongolia (8), Boom Box (7), Bajan Rhythm (5)
In this turf dash, Wild Mongolia looks the speed of the speed, with some ability to vie as well. Both of his career wins have come in turf dashes, including one over the Arlington weeds. He also gets a switch to rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. — the hottest in the colony, and a winner the only other time he rode for trainer Enebish Ganbat this meet. Boom Box is a versatile sort, able to run a strong race from the front, a stalking spot, or midpack. He also has a solid 6-2-1-1 record in turf dashes, as well as a pair of wins over the Arlington grass. He comes in second off the layoff, and drops into an easier condition. He acquitted himself well against open $16,000 company last out, though, rallying to be third beaten just half a length. Bajan Rhythm runs for the first time since September. But, he has a solid worktab coming into this race. He also drops against easier company here than he faced through most of the summer last year. Should Wild Mongolia, Chilango, and perhaps Moon Song lock into a pace battle, Bajan Rhythm has the closing kick to run them down.
Race 6: $16,000 claiming, N2L, three-year-olds and up, one mile on the turf, post time 3:55pm CDT
Selections: Mostly Mozart (8), Ulysses (4), Reap (5)
Mostly Mozart has shown the sharpest early pace of anyone in this field, but also has the ability to stalk the pace. He returns to the same level as he tried last out; he was second behind a runaway winner in Arch Rivalry. He gets back to the grass here, and faces no one as good as Arch Rivalry today. He also comes in third off the lay, and his only career win so far has come over this course and distance. Ulysses likely takes the lead if Jesse Lantz decides to rate Mostly Mozart. Ulysses drops to his lowest class level yet, a drop he clearly needs. His lines scream “need to lead” — but with Mostly Mozart the only other in this field who has shown true front-end affinity, Ulysses could get what he needs. He also gets one of the hotter riders in the colony, Mitchell Murrill, in the irons. Reap comes into this race second off a long lay. He won his first race back — a $25,000 maiden claimer on opening weekend. That came at a mile over the grass, the same course and distance as today. He rallied from well off the pace that day, and may need a bit of front-end gas to do his best work here. But, Larry Rivelli does spot his runners well when coming off a maiden win (as evidenced by his 27% strike rate), and he does get Jose Valdivia, Jr. back in the irons.
Race 7: Purple Violet Stakes, three-year-old fillies, Illinois-bred, one mile on the polytrack, post time 4:27pm CDT
Selections: Silver Lode (5), Flin Flon (2), Pura Lica (10
Longshot: Lakora Rose (8)
For my detailed analysis of this race, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Race 8: $7,500 claiming, non-winners of a race in 2016 OR N4L, races where entered for $5,000 or less not considered in eligibility, three-year-olds and up, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack, post time 4:57pm CDT
Selections: Gallant Eagle (2), Prince Cheval (9), Two Costly Bullets (7)
This race is on the short side of what polytrack route specialist Gallant Eagle likes to do, but he does have two victories and another seven money finishes in sixteen tries at this distance. He put forth a decent effort to be fourth at this class and distance on opening day, and the top two horses both win next out — Dynamical against a similar type, and Thundergram against straight allowance company. Trainer Tom Swearingen also excels second off the lay, winning 24% of the time. With Divine Delivery, Prince Cheval, and even Dream Commander with early speed to spare, he will get pace to chase, and looks well set to be another next-out winner from that key race. Prince Cheval is the best of the speed. He was third in the aforementioned Thundergram/Dynamical race, but has raced once since. Last week, he faced $8,000 starter allowance types at a mile on the grass. Toss that — in eight tries over the grass, he has never hit the board. Prince Cheval is not a grass horse. He likes poly, though; four of his seven victories have come on the Arlington main. He also has four wins at this distance. He has the best early speed, he can battle a bit, and he keeps Jose Valdivia, Jr. in the irons. Finally, Two Costly Bullets returns to his favourite surface. He also returns to the right class level; he was well-beaten against state-bred allowance company last time out at Hawthorne. All three of his career victories have come on poly, with two at this distance. Like Gallant Eagle, he will benefit if a pace battle ensues. He will have to run his best to contend against this field (a relatively saltyone for the level), but moving back to his best surface, he could get a share at good odds.