Back in the saddle after a week away, our feature race this week is Saturday's Chicago Handicap. It's a late-June/early-July fixture of the Arlington stakes calendar. It carries a Grade 3 ranking, a purse of $150,000, and is a solid race on the calendar for older female sprinters. The seven-furlong (7/8 mile) distance matches that of the richest race all year for this group, the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Past winners include:
- Safely Kept (1991), a Hall of Famer who beat boys in the 1990 Breeders Cup Sprint.
- Meafara, (1993) who had a stakes in her honor earlier in the meet in June.
- Saoirse (2000), a Canadian Champion Older Female.
- Happy Ticket (2005), the richest Louisiana-bred female of all time.
- Informed Decision (2009, 2010) who won the BC Filly & Mare Sprint and Eclipse for Champion Older Female Sprinter in 2009.
Morning line odds for the race were not released at original publish time. (Update: Lines added on Thurs. June 27)
Arlington Park - - Race 7 -- Grade 3 Chicago Handicap -- Seven furlongs on Polytrack -- Post time 4:08 CT
Only once, in the second career start, has COZZE UP LADY been out of the superfecta. We'll use this daughter of Cozzene as the win pick. She turns back from 1 1/16 miles on Churchill dirt to today's 7/8 of a mile on the Arlington synthetic. Last time out she won a third-level allowance while setting slow fractions on the front end. Perhaps she had things her own way. But, as she showed three back at Keeneland, she can be wrangled away from the pace. She won coming off of the pace going 6 1/2 furlongs. That tactical ability--and three money finishes in four synthetic starts--are also in her corner. The class favorite in this spot is AUBBY K. A winner of graded stakes in back-to-back starts (G2 Inside Information, G1 Humana Distaff), she likely goes here to stay at seven furlongs (instead of shipping to Florida for the G1 Princess Rooney next week). Picking up E. Castro to ride is a positive, but she beat a weak field on Derby Day. She also is trying synthetics for the first time, however the pedigree suggests she should handle it. Can't argue against those siding with the favorite, but, I've got mixed feelings and am demoting her for value. QUEEN'S AWARD has a solid synthetic resume (seven starts, five top three finishes) and had nasty (in the eyes of the chartcaller) trouble in the G1 Madison two back. She runs well off layoffs, acquires top jock K. Desormeaux, and the outside-most post free of traffic. She's been in the same form she had last fall when she won a second-level allowance at Keeneland going 6 1/2 furlongs, and last time in a third-level alllowance at Keeneland Spring, she was in the same zip code as a next out winner.
#6 COZZE UP LADY (5/1)
#7 AUBBY K (2/1)
#10 QUEEN'S AWARD (6/1)
Longshot: Quietly having a good year and making the most of his mounts is Noel Vigil. He's riding at a 15% winners clip despite only having about eighty mounts. He climbs aboard #9 LA SONG (30/1). Sure, she's a need-the-lead type. And sure, she caught a polytrack last time in a first-level allowance that promoted speed. However, LA SONG is trained by Wayne Catalano, who has cooled off but is still the winning trainer on the grounds and striking one out of three times. The Vigil/Catalano pair have won twice before at the meet, too. She'll get a clear run on the inside, and could be aided by the proposition that winner FLOWER SPELL, breaking from the middle of the field, isn't likely to get her rail trip.
Be sure to check out Twitter (@heylaserbeam) for all-day on-the-scene updates at Arlington Park. Good luck!