The stakes season continues this weekend at Arlington with a pair of turf stakes for Illinois-bred runners. However, the entire card is a good one.
There’s a pair of maiden races: one a maiden special for two-year-olds, and the other run at the relatively uncommon (for Arlington) distance of nine furlongs on the grass. We see the nine-furlong distance twice today, as there is a filly and mare turf allowance at that distance earlier in the day, as well.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the card!
Best Best: Showersofblessings, race 8
Longshot of the Day: Brave Benny, race 5
Race 1: $7,500 claiming, non-winners of two races in 2016 OR N4L, races where entered for $5,000 or less not considered in eligibility, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack, post time 1:15pm CDT
Selections: Baltic Star (3), Disqualified (2), Flyin for a Livin (4)
Baltic Star drops to the lowest level of her career. A dead closer, she gets plenty of pace to chase here with the likes of Nikaluk, War News, Tac Rap, and even Flyin for a Livin in the field. She did her best work last year with Santo Sanjur in the irons, as well; he returns today. Disqualified stands to be a bit more forwardly placed, but can sit just off the speeds. She notched up to starter company last out, but steps back into a straight claimer here. She also gets Jose Valdivia back in the irons — not only a solid jockey in general, but her pilot two back when she dismantled a $5,000 beaten field here last month. Flyin for a Livin has shown some speed, but also has some solid performances from a few lengths off the pace, and his speeds are very competitive here. He makes his second try over the local oval, and his first since being claimed into the barn of Michael Reavis. The price today is the same for which he was claimed last month.
Race 2: Allowance, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred OR N2L, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one and one eighth miles on the turf, post time 1:47pm CDT
Selections: Tizgorgeous (1), Yes Mongolia (4), Sophieshardtocatch (2)
Tizgorgeous is about as cozy a condition book fit as you’re ever going to see here, having won three starts including a state-bred stakes at two. She has excellent versatility of pace, having run well from the lead, just off, or midpack. She comes here second off the lay, after some trip trouble at the same level last out. She also gets an excellent rider in Francisco Torres. If she can stay the nine furlongs, she can win this at a price. Yes Mongolia broke her maiden last out going a mile. She stretches out to a mile and an eighth, but being by Any Given Sunday out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, she should have no trouble staying the trip. Jose Valdivia returns to the irons, as well. Trainer Mike Stidham has two in here — but it is interesting taht even though Redmoor faced stakes types out east, “A” rider Mitchell Murrill turns up instead on Sophieshardtocatch, last-out winner of a maiden claimer at Arlington. That move alone suffices to mark her as the more live of the Stidham pair. She comes in second off the lay, has a stalking style, and her breeding suggests she can stay the trip.
Race 3: $7,500 claiming, three years old OR N3L, races where entered for non-winners of two and three for $5,000 or less not considered in eligibility, three-year-olds and up, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack, post time 2:19pm CDT
Selections: Ogee’s Ekati (5), W W Orient (7), Leon Robert (2)
This race drew no speed. At least Ogee’s Ekati has some decent early pace figures, and broke his maiden relatively close to the front end. They are gossamer threads, but mark him as the most credible speed of the speed among this paceless set. He has two wins at the distance category as well, a point in his favour. He has not raced since December, which is the biggest drawback, but he does have a solid worktab leading into the start. W W Orient is the “condition book horse” here, with four wins. He has been able to run well from a stalking spot or midpack; his marginal bit of forward aptitude gives him a shot today. He also has okay polytrack form, with a win and a third in three starts over the surface. Leon Robert is a horse for the course: though he has just one win in ten starts over it, he has seven more money finishes. He was second against similar last out with Jose Valdivia in the irons; Valdivia returns here. A win will be difficult given the lack of pace, but Leon Robert’s love for the course should snag him a share.
Race 4: $25,000-$20,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, one and one eighth miles on the turf, post time 2:51pm CDT
Selections: Mr. Stein (8), Sudden Urges (4), La Prado (5)
Mr. Stein drops down from maiden special weight company for the first time. He hit the board in maiden special weight company last out at a mile, his longest race yet. That was over one turn on the poly; this will be his first try going two turns. Being out of a Dynaformer mare, Mr. Stein has a good shot to relish the nine furlongs. Sudden Urges was third against similar company last out. It was his first start in over a year, suggesting he returned at the right level. Today’s race will be just his fourth career start — his first try on grass, and his first at a mile and an eighth. With Kris S. underneath, he should have a shot to get the distance. La Prado is a longshot stab, but there are a few things to like. He is dropping from maiden special to maiden claimers for the first time. His breeding is as good as anyone here to get a mile and an eighth, being by Fort Prado out of a stakes winner at nine furlongs. And, he is second off the lay for a trainer 28% in that circumstance, Tom Swearingen. At 20/1 on the morning line, you could do far worse.
Race 5: Maiden special weight, two-year-olds, four and a half furlongs on the polytrack, post time 3:23pm CDT
Selections: Brave Benny (8), Gentleman Richie (4), Spittintumbleweeds (6)
We will go to the Scott Becker barn here — but, to the “other” Becker. St. Louie Guy (7) was third behind Riv in his June 3 debut. It was a bit disappointing given the attention he took going into that start. Here he is second time out; Becker is only a 9% winner in that case. Instead, look at Brave Benny, the Becker B. The first-time starter has Becker’s A jockey Chris Emigh aboard. There is precocity in the breeding: Benny the Bull babies win 17% first out, he is half to a first-out winner, and out of five winners out of the dam, four took three or fewer starts to get a win picture. Also, his last workout was local, and longer than today’s race. For the rest, let’s look to a relatively familiar source of two-year-olds ready to fire: Larry Rivelli. He has two in here, Gentleman Richie and Spittintumbleweeds. Gentleman Richie gets the slight preference, pending paddock observation: Rivelli has already gotten another Iqbaal baby (Riv) to fire quickly, and this one is half to Rivzinthehouse, also a first-out winner. Even though Rivelli does not typically call on rider Santo Sanjur, the ones Sanjur gets are live — in six starts over the last two months, they have two wins together, and another money finish. Spittintumbleweeds gets a bit more typical Rivelli rider in Jose Valdivia. The works are cracking, but the pedigree is just a bit less “win-early” than his stablemate.
Race 6: Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 3:55pm CDT
Selections: Cabana (2), Lovely Loyree (8), Prado’s Sweet Ride (1)
Longshot: Fleet Encounter (5)
For my full analysis, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
Original longshot Tapnfire is a scratch. If you’re looking to toss a big price onto your tickets, take a look at Fleet Encounter. This salty mare has mainly run turf sprints, but being a daughter of proven turf route producer Kate the Great, Fleet Encounter makes an intriguing two-turn prospect. She comes in third off the lay. Fleet Encounter also absolutely loves the Arlington grass — in ten tries, she has seven win pictures and two seconds. She also gets Mitchell Murrill aboard, who has been riding well this summer. Fleet Encounter has some questions on form and distance, but as the longest shot on the board, there are some things to make her worth a swing.
Race 7: Black Tie Affair Handicap, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 4:27pm CDT
Selections: Peej (4), Sweet Luca (10), Amen Kitten (9)
Longshot: Cammack (3)
For my full analysis, read the latest Chicago Railbird.
With the scratch of Reigning Catfish, we give Amen Kitten a look in the third spot. His recent races have him relatively close to the pace. Though this will be a far tougher ask than running down Golden Dart as he did last out, he is consistent enough and forwardly enough placed to have a solid chance to finish in the frame.
Race 8: Allowance, non-winners of $9,800 or a state-bred race other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf
Selections: Showersofblessings (9), Meadow Mystique (5), Be Playful (8)
Showersofblessings could not get a better setup than she does today — she looks like the lone speed. She drops in against a softer set than the open allowance company she faced last out, and barring anyone pulling a surprise change in strategy, she should take this bunch gate to wire. Meadow Mystique graduated against state-bred maiden special weight company last out, her first time at two turns and her first try on grass. Based on how she won that race, she should be relatively prominent, and ought to get first run on Showersofblessings. Be Playful is as consistent as it gets in turf routes at or around this level. She has been second in her last two starts in open allowance company. Though the pace setup does this midpack to closing sort no favours, she fires reliably enough to get a share under. She is also a “condition book” horse here — this race is one of those “Amen Kitten” conditions (the “one state-bred other than”), and Be Playful has an open N1X win to her name.