For the next five weeks, the state-breds take center stage in a series of six stakes that were packaged together in the past as the Prairie State Festival. Most of the races will be spread out over the coming weeks and populate the late-spring stakes schedule at Arlington International.
For the last day of May, the Arlington card features one of them, the Springfield Stakes. Likely owing to the downstate capital, the Springfield Stakes is set for a one-turn mile on the polytrack and is restricted to three-year-olds. It carries a pot of $100,000. And if some of these runners look familiar, it's because it's the same Illinois-bred three-year-olds that ran on the closing weekend of Hawthorne in the Land of Lincoln Stakes usually come back in this spot.
Past winners of note of the Springfield Stakes include Fairmount stakes namesake Tex's Zing (1989) and Grade 3 winner Fort Prado (2002).
(Morning line odds were not available at original publish time.) Update, added on May 29th.
Arlington International -- Race 8 -- Springfield Stakes -- One mile (one turn) on polytrack -- post time 4:30 pm CT
The 1-2-3-5 runners of the Illinois Derby (I GOT IT ALL, EASY SOLUTION, SOLAR FLAIR, and RAMBLING RICHIE) all square off. Going second off the layoff and getting E. T. Baird back aboard make RAMBLING RICHIE the pick here. I think St. Julien wasn't too aggressive last out with this charge, and when he broke slow, he got discouraged and backpedaled. Not so with Baird, who will put this one on the muscle as he did with La Tia leading everyone in a merry chase in the G3 Arlington Matron. With most of these runners having a start on two on the polytrack, pedigree for the polytrack can be still harvested as an angle. And Indian Charlie is a fine polytrack sire, so the lean is to one of its sons. I GOT IT ALL showed an ability to rate last out when he went three wide and made a sweeping but sustained move to win the Land Of Lincoln. It's worth noting that the outside paths early in the day at Hawthorne, including the Land of Lincoln, were the place to be. While you can't fully move him up off that start, you also can give him a second chance over the polytrack, as perhaps he had an educational first start in which he was beaten twenty-two lengths at first asking. After that drubbing came the win by a zip code over at Hawthorne, so the talent is there and he's worthy of a second chance over the synthetic. RAMBLING RICHIE and EASY SOLUTION both like to be near the front end, so if the two decide to hook up (or I GOT IT ALL gets too close to the front pace), SOLAR FLAIR could easily pick up the pieces. Though his two starts beyond a mile haven't been that promising, he's still going one-turn in this spot. Graduated at two over the Arlington polytrack when he nosed out RAMBLING RICHIE last Fall and is a stakes winner himself. Perhaps the early Hawthorne starts at three are better than they look considering the never-ending deep freeze at Hawthorne promoted inside speed, which isn't this runner's preferred style. Though it's a limited sample of twenty-one starts, trainer DiVito has five wins and four more money finishes, good for solid percentages (24% wins, 43% in the money).
#3 RAMBLING RICHIE (6/1)
#7 I GOT IT ALL (3/1)
#4 SOLAR FLAIR (9/2)
Longshot: I'm going to take a three-year-old who hit the board in the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity at 1 1/16 miles on dirt for state-breds at cross-town Hawthorne at the end of the two-year-old season. Further, I'm going to take a three-year-old that's eligible for a first-level allowance. #6 PRADO U (15/1) was third in the Edgar and went from seventh to third in the middle stages of the race, showing some acceleration from off-the-pace. Which, going 1 1/16 miles at Arlington with the "stop sign" short finish, means doom. Closers are often against going it 1 1/16, especially ones with traffic trouble. Perhaps wheeling back to a one-turn mile will help this son of Fort Prado (himself a winner of this race) get career win two. Perhaps also getting pace to chase from RAMBLING RICHIE and EASY SOLUTION will set up the late rally that was muffled last out. Acquires the riding services of Florent Geroux, who has been flammable this meet.
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