2015 Arlington-Washington Lassie Preview

The biggest event of the racing weekend is Travers Day from Saratoga, and the Picks and Ponderings duo has a detailed look at Travers Day. However, this week Arlington stages the fillies-only complement to last week's Arlington-Washington Futurity.  Contested as well at seven furlongs, the Arlington-Washington Lassie is the feature on the August 29th card that plays alongside the Travers.  It's the final Saturday in August, and it's also the final open stakes of the Arlington meet.

A pot of seventy-five thousand is up for grabs in the Arlington-Washington Lassie.  Like its futurity counterpart, it takes its name from a merger of the Arlington Futurity and the Washington Park Futurity - the latter at the closed Washington Park in the south suburbs.  It was turned back to seven furlongs last year after nearly two decades at a one-turn mile. A Grade Three as recent as 2012, the Lassie has seen winners like Dearly Precious (1975), It's In The Air (1978), Eliza (1992), and She Be Wild (2009) take down the Arlington-Washington Lassie on the way to being named champion frosh filly.  The last two - Eliza and She Be Wild - also won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in their championship campaigns.

Arlington International -- Race 7 -- Arlington-Washington Lassie -- Seven furlongs on Polytrack -- post time 4:22 pm CT

The most experienced runner in this year's Lassie is Lu Sea, who has three starts to her name.  So this year's Lassie functions on conditon levels with a first-level allowance.  As such, this race becomes an exercise in progression handicapping and pedigree handicapping.

Once upon a time, before Indiana Downs purses were more than Arlington's by a considerable margin, Tom Amoss would ship runners up from Fair Grounds to Arlington.  Amoss doesn't presently venture into these parts, given the finances.  But he brings in VENUS VALENTINE and gets Mitchell Murrill to ride - meaning there are quality humans.  As a granddaughter of A.P. Indy, the instinct is to toss her since A. P. Indy progeny tend to dislike synthetic - though the direct progeny of Congrats do like it and VENUS VALENTINE has Congrats as the sire.  She goes dirt-to-synthetic in the A-W Lassie.  She's a second-time starter, so she has a license to move forward or at least duplicate her effort graduating at six furlongs at Ellis.  But if a runner has a license to improve markedly from start one to start two, it's RUN TO GLORY.  RUN TO GLORY loomed at the top of the lane on debut going five furlongs on the Arlington grass on a statebred stakes day.  When the Godolphin winner cut the corner and sped off to widen the margin, perhaps Mitchell Murrill wrapped up on RUN TO GLORY.  However, he did show fight in the stretch to edge out Allaire for the second spot.  Going seven panels on the poly could be helpful to the Tim Thornton/David Hinsley jockey/trainer production.  Two years ago Richie Scherer conditioned the Arlington-Washington Lassie winner in She's Offlee Good.  He's back this time around with INCONCLUSIVE.  She won going five and a half panels at first asking over the local synthetic strip and moves to seven for the Lassie.  With the Include-Broad Brush sire line she should find this extended sprint well within her distance range; it's just how much until the "out of a Mr. Greeley mare" part kicks in.  INCONCLUSIVE made a closing rally on the Arlington polytrack - never an easy thing to do - and was able to score.  This filly picks up Jose Valdivia, Jr. to ride - and he's been riding lights out while in a race for leading jockey at Arlington Park with Mitchell Murrill (who rides VENUS VALENTINE).

Selections:

#4 VENUS VALENTINE (9/2)

#7 RUN TO GLORY (8/1)

#8 INCONCLUSIVE (4/1)

Longshot: How about a maiden?  That might sound crazy.  How about a first-time starter?  That really sounds crazy.  Before you think the longshot writer had too much at the Friday night '80's party at Arlington, realize that #6 MARQUEE MISS (10/1) comes from owner Joe Ragsdale and trainer Ingrid Mason - and that's the same team that had last year's runner-up Sarah Sis (who goes at Saratoga in the G1 Ballerina on Saturday).  They can't get Julio Felix to ride - he's off at the Spa, so they pick up Manny Esquivel instead.    Mason is having a solid Arlington meet (15-for-63 in the win column), the dam has thrown a winner before, and Cowboy Cal was a decent turf miler back in the day. The pedigree is fine for the distance and she's conceding as much inexperience as one would think for a maiden in a stakes.

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