Our feature race this week is Saturday's Chicago Handicap on the polytrack, carded as the feature for the June 28th program. Sometimes it's called the Chicago Sprint (because of its distance) or shortened to the "Chi Cap" (shortening both the city and condition). 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. (photo at left)
- Meafara (1993) a former Arlington stakes namesake that was twice a Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up.
- 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. Updated on June 26 with morning line odds.
Arlington International - - Race 9 -- Grade 3 Chicago Handicap -- Seven furlongs on Polytrack -- Post time 5:00 CT
Sometimes a rider switch is all it takes, and I think the switch from Robby Albarado to Florent Geroux will give EDEN PRAIRIE a graded stakes victory. Grade 2 placed at today's distance on synthetic, she was ridden too close to the pace last time in the G1 Madison before losing to quality female sprinter Judy The Beauty. I think Geroux can make a pressing ride and that's what EDEN PRAIRIE wants, as that strategy worked in the G2 Raven Run last fall. She won't be able to walk on the front end like she did in grass stakes in New Orleans with front-running sprinters like FLOWER SPELL and CHORTLE in the box. Comes off a layoff since the G1 Madison at Keeneland and posts some regular works. Worth noting her one time over the polytrack was at today's seven furlong distance and was a win. The 1-2 finishers from last year's Chicago Handicap are back for another throwdown (so is Flower Spell), and COZZE UP LADY got to close off a quick pace that afternoon on a route-to-sprint turnback. There's no turnback in play this year, but she did demonstrate that closing kick to win a washed-off Mardi Gras Stakes at the Fair Grounds three back. Two back and last out were meh efforts in the G1 Madison and G3 Winning Colors. Maybe COZZE UP LADY likes synthetic best, with three wins and a second including last year's CHI 'Cap spoils. Doesn't hurt that FLOWER SPELL is back to give pace and that trainer Calhoun is 20%, 51% in the money on dirt-to-synthetic runners. You can always count on wry terse names when dealing with a Claiborne/Dilschneider horse. Consider APROPOS (First Samurai X Apt) as their latest case. Name aside, trainer Stall knows how to ship winners to Chicago and he brings in this winner of a six-figure stake in Arkansas. Goes third off a layoff after a short early-spring rest, and had gate trouble last time at Churchill. She was in the same zip code as Judy The Beauty in the Madison, and that makes her a contender in this bunch.
#8 EDEN PRAIRIE (5/1)
#3 COZZE UP LADY (9/2)
#5 APROPOS (7/2)
Longshot: APROPOS may be third off the layoff, but so is #2 MY OPTION (6/1). Third in the Third Chance across town two back at Hawthorne against the state-bred older female stakes gang, that race's form got some validation when Missjeanlouise was second at Indiana Grand and Scarlet Power got a minor award in the Isaac Murphy. (Note that Murphy winner FIRE TRICKS is in the field, too.) My OPTION had a wide trip with a bad break in her trip to Canada last time and there's every reason to think it was disadvantageous. Third in the G2 Raven Run (where EDEN PRAIRIE was second) at today's distance, she also is a graded winner over the polytrack - though at nine furlongs. Moreover, her closing/midpack style gets to be flattered if FLOWER SPELL or CHORTLE or both go to the front.
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