I've always had a soft spot for the two races, both for two-year-olds, that Arlington Park has as a double feature this Saturday.
The first time I attended Arlington Park was Arlington-Washington Futurity Day, 2008.
Two years later, when the Futurity and Lassie occupied a common day (they didn't in 2008), I was back at Arlington Park, this time organizing and caretaking to a group of fans while taking in a September raceday. One of the event's perks was to have a race in the program in your group's namesake. The winner of the day's namesake race: Eddie Razo, Jr.
Two years ago in 2011, I had the opportunity to write about the Arlington-Washington Lassie for Iron Maidens. The success of that piece led eventually to the creation of this space in 2012.
Like last week's feature, the races this week honor the former venues of Washington Park, first on the south side of Chicago and later in suburban Homewood. Two-year-old champions who won the Futurity or Lassie include It's In The Air, Eliza, Gilded Time, and She Be Wild.
Let's see what racing highlights and (perhaps) stars of tomorrow emerge this year.
At publish time, morning line odds were not available.
Updated, Sept. 5, to include morning line odds and to adjust to the scratch of MIGHTY BROWN.
Arlington Park -- Race 7 -- G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity -- One mile (one turn) on polytrack -- post time 4:00 pm CT
$150,000 will be on the line for the two-year-olds. It's the feature on the first Saturday card of September.
Tim Ice-trained first time starters aren't usually primed for the first start out, so it's good to see one that was bet down to 3-1, an indication of something against the grain. MIGHTY BROWN was bet down in the first career start going today's one-turn mile distance, made a good move on the turn, then flattened out in the stretch. Seems like a flash-and-fade, but K. Desormeaux was aboard that day. That effort looks worse than it is, as he showed passing affinity two back at Indiana. He was doomed last out by a bad break and a four-wide trip last time going two turns. Think the move back to one turn will help. So does acquiring Esquivel, who's having a solid meet. Trainer Anne Smith (of Nates Mineshaft fame) has recent maiden winner WHYRUAWESOME in this race, brought to you by that same ownership. Won at seven panels last time and could move forward from start one to start two. Like our top pick, this one should get some pace to chase as this one closed to win at first asking. However, the polytrack breeding on this one (Whywhywhy --Awesome Frances by Awesome Again) doesn't get the heart pumping as on the top pick (being out of a Chester House Mare). Sometimes Arlington's polytrack gets a bit speed-favoring, so perhaps taking a speedster will help. Think the speed of the speed is HIGH ROLL. Trainer DiVito always has live two-year-olds early in the meet, but they tend to fall off as the distances increase and the paces get slower. Still, he can get them to cash checks in stakes--think Muppet Man with the same owner in this race last year and on Preview Day. Acquiring the white-hot F. Torres to ride is another bonus. Our original top pick MIGHTY BROWN scratched out as he'll run in a frosh turf stakes on Super Derby Day at Louisiana Downs. Thus, the replacement pick is CAPTAINS AFFAIR. A Team Valor/Mettee production that worked together on American Derby winner Infiinte Magic, they recruit Mike Smith to make a trip to the northwest Chicago suburbs. Team Valor imports (like this one) hit about 20% of the time; the humans make this one live. Won two back going seven furlongs on grass at first asking.
#5 MIGHTY BROWN (10/1)
#6 WHYRUAWESOME (4/1)
#3 HIGH ROLL (3/1)
#7 CAPTAINS AFFAIR (5/1)
Longshot: How about a two-year-old by solid first-crop sire Into Mischief? Presenting #2 LOTSA MISCHIEF (12/1), who gets S. Martinez to ride. This one had a nice second start when graduating at Prairie Meadows, but at a much shorter distance and on a track that's typically kind to front runners. Still, both sides of the breeding say eight panels should be doable. Unlike others, he'll come in with two sprint preps before trying the one-mile chute today.
Arlington Park -- Race 9 -- Arlington-Washington Lassie -- One mile (one turn) on polytrack -- post time 5:00 pm CT
Two races later sees the fillies-only complement. The Lassie lost its grade from last year and took a slight purse cut, being worth $100,000 this year.
Think this race will have a crazy-go-nuts first quarter, so let's look for someone tactical. It's Wayne's World at Arlington, and Catalano puts BATTLEFIELD ANGEL into the Lassie. A winner last time out going seven panels, this filly by Proud Citizen was taken just off the pace last time then made an inside-outside move to graduate. F. Geroux has the return call, and this is a team that has won bunches at the suburban oval. The "buzz" horse in this race is TAMAZULA, a frosh filly by Two Step Salsa that earned a glowing speed figure last time, also graduating in career start two. She made a nice improvement from start one to start two, and powered away in the lane. Trained by A. De la Cerda, who's having a solid meet and further brought to you by the connections that produced La Tia, an Illinois-bred stakes winner that was 3rd in the G3 Modesty. ISTANFORD, by Istan, went wire-to-wire at first asking. That's not a big deal in a race with speed, but it is a big deal when the race was at two turns on the weeds going today's mile distance. She makes the subtle turn back to one turn, and lures Mike Smith to take the riding call. Trained by M. Stidham, who won last week's stakes and for the meet is hitting at a solid clip.
#2 BATTLEFIELD ANGEL (6/1)
#3 TAMAZULA (6/1)
#7 ISTANFORD (8/1)
Longshot: Pace makes the race, as seen from last week's Washington Park Handicap. #11 SWEETSOUTHERNDAME (8/1) may be the one that takes back the most and makes the last run in today's Lassie. Second last time in a $125K stakes in Canada, this Presque-based shipper stalked and passed to graduate at first asking two back. Top Erie humans see fit to make the trip to suburban Chicago with this runner. Being by Colonel John out of a Southern Image mare, a mile should be easily attainable.
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