2014 Isaac Murphy Handicap Preview

Once again, the Illinois-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 month of June at Arlington International.

This week's feature honors Isaac Murphy (see photo), a Hall of Fame jockey who won three Kentucky Derbies.  The Isaac Murphy Handicap goes on the fourteenth of June and is for older Illinois-bred fillies and mares.  Those older statebred females will travel six furlongs in this stakes with a hundred thousand up for grabs.

Past Illinois-bred winners include Hawthorne stakes namesake Third Chance (2012).  As the race at one time catered to open company, it also acquired a winners' list that includes Grade One winner Taylor's Special (1986).

Morning line odds were not available at original publish time. (Update, June 13: Morning line odds added.)

Arlington International - - Race 9 - - Isaac Murphy Handicap -- Six furlongs on polytrack -- post time 5:00 pm CT

They've run two Illinois-bred stakes so far at Arlington and both of them have seen victories from Tom Swearingen.  He's got a chance to go for three as sends out defending champion KIP BERRIES.  However, we'll tab STORMIN ELLE in this affair.  With KIP BERRIES, ALGONQUIN POSSE, and rail-drawn FRABSTER among the ten in here, there should be enough one-way pace that neither of these three can hold on long enough and they'll wear each other out.  STORMIN ELLE turns back to six furlongs after setting the pace in a one-turn poly mile last out in an open twice-other-than allowance.  Given that she graudated last fall from off the pace going six and a half panels, the thinking is the distance made her closer to the pace as opposed to being a natural gun-and-go type.  STORMIN ELLE has had E. T. Baird aboard in all her career starts, six of them with five money finishes.  The only blemish?  The G3 Valley View around two turns - not high of importance when talking about a polytrack sprint.  Trainer Wayne Catalano isn't as dominant as in past years here, but he's still hitting at a solid rate.  SCARLET POWER is one of two in here owned by William Stiritz and trainer by Scott Becker (ALGONQUIN POSSE the other).  While first-call rider Chris Emigh has ALGONQUIN POSSE, it's Israel Ocampo on SCARLET POWER, a likeable rider move given this one's penchant for making one run and Ocampo being a more patient type.  SCARLET POWER two back checked in with a credible fourth in the spring version of this race, the Third Chance at cross town Hawthorne.  Form on that race has been okay: while the 1-3 finishers have clunked in open stakes, the runner-up just missed in an open allowance.  SCARLET POWER is another that would benefit from the one-way speed all getting active.  Last year, KIP BERRIES got to walk on the front end in the Murphy Handicap and when that happened, the race was all over but for the shouting.  While that scenario doesn't appear likely this time around, you can't hide that KIP BERRIES likes the local polytrack (thirteen starts, nine money finishes) or that Swearingen is still having a solid meet with his small contingent.  Leading rider Florent Geroux climbs aboard.  There are plus signs, but she's not getting a free lunch on the front end.

Selections:

#8 STORMIN ELLE (3/1)

#6 SCARLET POWER (8/1)

#7 KIP BERRIES (9/2)

Longshot: C'Mon Feet in the Third Chance proved that if you get in form, you can easily put in a winning race to take down these Illinois-bred sprinters.  With the 1-2-3 finishers of the Third Chance not here, perhaps #1 FRABSTER (6/1) can move up as well.  She was claimed two back at Hawthorne for twenty grand and doubled the price last time, going also against N2X types in an early meet AOC on the green.  She won that afternoon, and has yet to finish off the board in eight lifetime outs.  Trainer has nine money finishes in eighteen tries going from turf to polytrack.  She is compromised by speed on the outside, but this runner deserves a plus point should the Arlington poly be kind to inside paths or speed.  FRABSTER also gets third off the layoff, perhaps setting up for a shining start.

***

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