2014 Straight Line Stakes Preview

Straight Line, a 2002 horse by Boundary out of the Strawberry Road mare Zanti raced regularly at Arlington Park and notched five of his ten career wins at the track.  Among his wins over the suburban oval were two stakes wins, the 2004 Honest Pleasure Stakes and the 2005 Forward Pass Stakes.  His highest-profile wins both came at Churchill Downs, where he won the 2004 Iroquois Stakes (GIII) as well as the 2005 Ack Ack Handicap (GIII).  After his racing career, he moved to Fairberry Farm in Waterloo, Illinois to stand at stud; he stands there still today.  He was the champion first-crop sire in Illinois in 2011, and currently sits eighth on this year's rankings of sires who presently stand or last stood in Illinois.

This year's race, the third edition of the Straight Line Stakes, is a $65,000 event for three-year-olds run at a one-turn mile over the polytrack.  A field of ten horses drew into the race, and it includes a mix of familiar Arlington runners as well as shippers racing here for the first time.

Straight Line Stakes, three-year-olds, one mile on the synthetic, post time 3:12 CDT

The front end of this race looks feisty, to stay the least.  Good Bye Greg is the most likely speed of the speed, but McQ and Solitary Ranger both have an affinity for the front.  I Got It All has wired races as well and has shown strong early speed, although his races this spring have shown a better tactical aspect to him.  Even longshot Presque Isle shipper Blichton has won from on and near the lead, though he will not likely be able to contend with the aforementioned speedsters on the front end.  Whoever it ends up being, it would be extremely unlikely to see no fight for the lead.  This will likely give Bourbonize exactly what he needs to make his return from a four-month lay a winning one.  After a maiden and an allowance win, this Tiz Wonderful gelding found the waters of the Kentucky Derby trail to be a bit over his head.  Trainer Kellyn Gorder wisely dropped him back to the listed Northern Spur on the Arkansas Derby undercard.  Bourbonize won despite a pace that was not particularly fast.  He has been on the shelf since, but has been working well since last June, and Gorder has a respectable 18% win rate (and 52% in-the-money rate) with horses coming in off of layoffs three months or longer.  He won his debut at seven furlongs, and has won in both his attempts at a mile, though both of those were two-turn affairs.  As long as Bourbonize handles the Polytrack well, he has a good chance to make his return to the track a winning one.  I Got It All returns to Arlington after a disappointing performance against more difficult company in a very sloppy running of the Iowa Derby (GIII).  The Tiz Wonderful gelding has not competed since that race almost two months ago, but trainer Tom Swearingen wins at 21% off of similar-length lays, and he is working very well over the Arlington main track.  The one-turn polytrack mile should suit him well.  Two starts back, he tried this distance for the first time among Illinois-breds in the Springfield Stakes at Arlington.  Easy Solution and Rambling Richie duked it out on the front end; I Got It All stalked, pounced on the turn, and won by a decisive 9 1/4 lengths.  He answered any questions lingering from a disappointing debut on the poly, and showed he can stay out of a speed duel. Whether it was the class level, the surface, or both that caused him to falter last out, these conditions bode far better here.  Puppy Manners makes his first start for the Wesley Ward barn.  This ironically named Kitten's Joy colt was bred by the Ramseys, but sold as a yearling.  Previous trainer Jerry Hollendorfer ran him against the likes of Enterprising, Dance With Fate, and Tamarando through the spring; it was a bit over his head.  Last out he dropped in for a $50,000 tag for a seven-furlong race at Del Mar, and the Ramseys claimed him.  That race was his Polytrack debut, and he finished second beaten only half a length.  Though he ticks up in class from that company, this is still easier than the company he was keeping in the spring, and the pace should set up nicely for him.  This Puppy likes to close: with all that zip on the front end he should have plenty to run into, and enough speed to contend.

Selections:

#5 BOURBONIZE (7/2)

#10 I GOT IT ALL (5/1)

#3 PUPPY MANNERS (10/1)

Longshot:  #4 SULTRY CAT (15/1) has never raced in a stakes before, but trainer Kenny McPeek thinks highly enough of him that he supplemented this three-year-old Bernstein gelding into the race.  His pace style fits this race perfectly, as he tends to come from a handful of lengths off the early clip.  Most of his races have been a little on the slow side for this crowd, but his maiden win puts him right in the mix.  That maiden race was also, not coincidentally, his only race to date on Polytrack.  After faltering in his only dirt start, a strong allowance in which he finished behind such up-and-comers as Jessica's Star and Ulanbator, he had run on the grass his last three times out.  He won last out in an allowance at Ellis.  He faces tougher this time out, but if he likes Polytrack as much as he did in April, he will be live.

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