After a week off from the Arlington summer stakes campaign (due to scant nominees), the northwest suburban oval kicks off August and its second month of stakes with a pair of stakes on its card. Illinois-bred sprinters are the focus in a pair of stakes with purses of $50,000-added. For the open group, there is the Addison Cammack Handicap. The ladies will go in the Isaac Murphy Hanidcap. Both stakes are set for six furlongs on Arlington's polytrack and both are analyzed below. As recently as 2012, the two stakes on this program were packaged with other Illinois-bred stakes to compose the Prairie State Festival.
Coverage this weekend at Picks & Ponderings isn't limited to Arlington. The Picks & Ponderings team breaks down the four graded stakes on the Saturday Saratoga card, headlined by the Grade One Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. On Sunday, Nicolle Neulist previews the feature race of the weekend: the G1 Haskell Invitational - featuring the return of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
All races are scheduled for Saturday August 1.
Updated August 1 to reflect race-day scratches.
Arlington International - Race 5 - Isaac Murphy Handicap -- Six Furlongs on Polytrack -- post time 3:19 PM CT
This handicap honors Isaac Murphy (see photo), a Hall of Fame jockey who won three Kentucky Derbies. The Isaac Murphy Handicap serves as the female complement to the Addison Cammack on the same card, as it is for older Illinois-bred fillies and mares. Those older statebred females will travel six furlongs in this stakes with fifty thousand up for grabs. Throught he years, the race has been run at a variety of surfaces (dirt, turf, polytrack) an distances (from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth) on its history as the 2015 renewal will be the 38th running of the Isaac Murphy. 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 (1986-87).
With the morning scratch of DREAMOFJEAN E., that leaves RICHIES SWEETHEART to control the pace from start to finish. Perhaps RICHIES SWEETHART is better on turf than on polytrack. She owns the record clocking for five and a furlongs here and proved her quality when annexing a listed stakes over at Indiana Grand on their greenery. While she can survive a duel on the lead, she has rarely showed much in terms of a passing gear. But as she showed gameness at Indiana and makes a slight drop down to the state-breds, she is a certainly a factor here and the speed-friendly synthetic of Arlington makes her tough to topple. A deep closer like DOLLY PEACH is behind the eight ball in this event, unless Arlington's synthetic isn't acting like a carousel. Still, SUMMER AGAIN seems to be back in the same form that saw her get a stakes placing last year at 30-1 in the Powerless last fall across town. After a clunker in the Third Chance to start the year, she won a state-bred twice other-than allowance at Hawthorne and made a seven-wide rally early in the meet in her first try over the local surface. Going seven wide isn't good at Arlington, especially when the inside paths have been the place to be. Her last two starts saw her press and move three-wide, to gain top two finishes in open company and clear the open first-level allowance condition. They've run seven Illinois-bred stakes this year, and Scott Becker has conditoned winners in five of them. He has a chance to go six for eight with 2014 was a lost year for her, as she made only two starts - a clunker in last year's Murphy and a win in an "NC" allowance in Cincinnati. Back in the Prairie State for 2015, she may have needed her first start of the year at Fairmount and two back was second to DREAMOFJEAN E. (who scratched on the morning of the race) in that starter allowance/optional claimer. Tried in an upper-level allowance down at Fairmount last time, she was wide on the turn and ran evenly. Though she was the 6-5 favorite as a house horse last time, her figure was close to what she ran upstate - suggesting she's one of the Becker-trained and Stiritz-owned horses that can win beyond the friendly confines of Fairmount. Their number one jock, Chris Emigh, climbs aboard. With transferable form, she's also done her best work close to the pace and if the Rivelli entrant commits pace suicide this one might get the lead to herself.
#2 RICHIES SWEETHEART (7/5)
#4 SUMMER AGAIN (9/2)
#6 ALGONQUIN POSSE (6/1)
Longshot: Tough to make a case for anyone else. #3 ROYAL POSH (15/1) went four-wide last out an Arlington's turf course and goes back to the polytrack in the Murphy. In a rider change, she'll get Santo Sanjur back in the irons and he gave her his best effort last fall at Hawthorne in the Powerless. While she'll need pace help on the front end - specifically someone to keep RICHIES SWEETHEART busy - she will likely possess the longest odds on the board and is a state-bred stakes heroine.
Arlington International -- Race 7 -- Addison Cammack Handicap -- Six Furlongs on Polytrack -- post time 4:21 PM CT
This race memorializes Addison Cammack, one of the founding fathers of Creech Brothers Horse Van Lines, a transport services for racetrack horses. Cammack, a staple of the Chicago racing circuit, died in December 2011 at age 70 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. Cammack's name is memorialized in the stakes feature on Saturday at Arlington. Before being known as the Cammack, the race was known as the White Oak Handicap and featured past double winners such as Tic N Tin (2001-2002), High Expectations (2006-2007), Shrewd Operator (2010-2011) and Sweet Luca (2013-2014). Popular state-bred sprinter River Bear (2009) also counts himself on the winners list of this race.
They cancelled last week's Springfield Stakes on account of insufficient nominees, and RECOUNT would have been the favorite in that race. Now facing elders for the first time, RECOUNT is still worth selecting. But the "taking on elders" element makes the price more fair. RECOUNT looms as the speed of the speed in the Cammack. While he had an advantageous outside post winning first his start at three in the Land of Lincoln across town, RECOUNT had to out-gun Dom the Bomb to get position in that race and threw down quick fractions that afternoon at Hawthorne. Tried in three-year-old open company, he was the main pace before getting caught in the late stages of a $75K stakes in Iowa. Unraced since his trip to Iowa, RECOUNT is a winner over this oval of last year's Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. As he's the speed of the speed and drawn at the rail, expect DiVito to instruct Manny Esquivel to break on top, and assert position. That should be the ticket to a picture and some television time. Should RECOUNT not go for the lead, the white-hot jockey/trainer team of E. T. Baird/Larry Rivelli (24 starts, nine wins, three additional money finishes) to put RIVZINTHEHOUSE on the engine. He wired an open first-level allowance last out and has a solid record over the local synthetic: six stars, four wins, a second. He used up his conditions last year and now steps up to a state-bred stakes this year. He may be the only one to challenge RECOUNT on the front end, but it is possible that he can't keep up yet is quicker than other front types. He could win if RECOUNT stubs his hoof or get smoked and lose badly - an "in between" scenario isn't likely. This space has blabbed on for a little bit and just now arrives at SWEET LUCA, the two-time winner of this race whose claim to fame is beating double Illinois Horse of the Year Work All Week (who goes on WV Derby Day) in successive years. SWEET LUCA likes Arlington polytrack - that's clear from his career record of 14: 3-4-3. But SWEET LUCA is a closing/plodding type. He'll need Arlington's polytrack to be more fair than the usual carousel it's been and he'll need RECOUNT and RIVZINTHEHOUSE to duel into submission. However, not putting a Chris Block trainee on a ticket in an Illinois-bred stakes is a one-way trip to the ATM machine for more money. He'll go third off the layoff and wasn't disgraced chasing eventual G3 Hanshin Cup check casher Hogy two back and may just be rounding into form.
#1 RECOUNT (3/1)
#8 RIVZINTHEHOUSE (4/1)
#7 SWEET LUCA (9/2)
Longshot: Time for the Longshot To Watch to trot out the "uncoupled trainer sends out two and we take the higher odds horse" angle for the zillionth time. Central casting presents #5 JAZZY SUN (30/1). His trainer? Jim DiVito, who sends out RECOUNT from the rail. He's only been over the Arlington synthetic once, and it was a win. Meanwhile, Edgar Perez climbs aboard JAZZY SUN in the Cammack and the Perez/DiVito team did connect once before at 7-1 odds in their only union together. JAZZY SUN benefits on pace if RECOUNT and RIVZINTHEHOUSE go out and barbeque each other on the front end. But JAZZY SUN has been in the twice-other-than level of open company - he cleared its allowance three back at Hawthorne, tried a stakes quality N3X three back, and went back to the N2X land while being up for sale last out. Being an "N2X" type usually means one can be competitive at the state-bred stakes level, and he will have odds thanks to the gift that keeps giving.
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