The big race day of the weekend is the Belmont Stakes with its star-studded program, but the local action at Arlington Park includes a stake as well. (For a look at Belmont Stakes Day Picks and Ponderings, check out the links given: Friday and Saturday, The Grade Ones, and the Belmont Stakes.)
As with last week, 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 month of June at Arlington International.
This week, the Purple Violet Stakes is the feature at Arlington for the June 7 program. Named for the state flower of Illinois, the Purple Violet Stakes carries a purse of one hundred thousand dollars. Like last week's Springfield Stakes, it's for strictly three-year-olds on the polytrack. However, it's restricted only to fillies. Like the open complement race last week, it will be contested at a one-turn mile out of the chute.
Past winners of the Purple Violet Stakes include Fairmount Park stakes namesakes All Sold Out (1982) and Bungalow (1990), Hawthorne stakes namesake Pretty Jenny (2005) and graded stakes winner La Tia (2012).
Arlington International -- Race 9 -- Purple Violet Stakes -- One mile (one turn) on polytrack -- post time 5:02 pm CT
Aside from RICHIE'S SWEETHEART and PISTOLS DRAWN, everyone in this field qualifies for an Illinois-bred first-level allowance. Those same two exit the cross-town April iteration of this division's race, the Pretty Jenny Stakes. However, an outside bias in place that afternoon on West 35th and the extra distance make this race, from this observer, ripe for a form reversal. COUNTESS CASHMERE went three-wide on the Arlington polytrack to graduate last time out after cashing two checks on the dirt at Hawthorne. Going six panels last out, she does stretch out to today's one turn mile. However, she turned in a recorded maintenance work in line with pre-race works, suggesting she can extend the form shown at graduation. Trainer Swearingen is also quietly having a solid Arlington meet (sixteen starts, four wins, eleven money finishes). PISTOLS DRAWN won the Pretty Jenny last time with the three-wide move on a track favoring wide rallying types. She came into her own on the dirt at Hawthone, with solid maiden and N1X wins along with the last out stakes win. The polytrack tries were not so inspiring, but those came early in the career and it's possible she has evolved since then. Still, she may be a different filly now at three than the early tries at two other the synthetic and dirt. PISTOLS DRAWN also lured regular pilot Rafael Hernandez up to Chicago for this race, getting him away from banging home winning house horses at Fairmount. Trainer Larry Rivelli has started off the Arlington meet white hot, with a winning percentage near fifty percent. By that token alone, and with regular rider Tim Thornton aboard, RICHIES SWEETHEART becomes an automatic play. While the humans are solid, RICHIES SWEETHEART will also project the speed of the speed, as she set the super quick fractions in the Arlington Washington Lassie at today's one turn polytrack mile and last out in the Pretty Jenny. Though she's stakes placed, she has limited passing ability. She can hold the speed for about six furlongs, as seen by her allowance win last out. Eight furlongs may be a more dicey proposition, though possible if Arlington's polytrack gets carousel-like.
#1 COUNTESS CASHMERE (8/1)
#6 PISTOLS DRAWN (2/1)
#4 RICHIES SWEETHEART (5/2)
Longshot: Not often you get a stakes winner at twenty to one morning line, but #5 LAKOTADREAMCATCHER (20/1) is exactly that. The stakes win for her is the only win on the docket, winning the Whitworth Illinois Debutante last winter at a two-turn mile and a sixteenth at the south side dirt oval. Since then she's stayed at two turns and turned in efforts less inspiring. It gives rise to the idea of a flash in the pan statebred, but LAKOTADREAMCATCHER has established herself as a closer based on those Hawthorne dirt races, and that closing kick was squelched at a mile and a sixteenth on the local polytrack. Perhaps getting to a more honest distance of a mile will bring out the closing run. Perhaps a rider switch to Eddie Perez - adept with closers when riding first call on Chris Block's grass horses - will also jumpstart her form.
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