Three months into the Arlington meet, rider Jose Valdivia, Jr., trainer Larry Rivelli, and owner Patricia's Hope, LLC lead their respective standings. On Thursday afternoon, their horse Cadet Captain (Tale of the Cat - Applesolutely, by Affirmed) became the first horse to win four times during this summer's Arlington meet. A wire-to-wire winner opening weekend, it took him three more starts to win again, doing so on June 23 with a game front-end score. He won right back on July 3, digging in late. Cadet Captain's win in an open $5,000 claiming race on July 27 was the easiest of the four, despite the fact that it was washed from a mile on the grass to a mile and a sixteenth on polytrack. A clear leader early, Cadet Captain looked as if the field would swarm him as they turned for home. But, Cadet Captain was merely playing with them. The seven-year-old gelding drew away down the stretch to win by five and three quarters lengths.
Another horse from the Rivelli barn made his mark on Friday, albeit not in Illinois. The Tabulator (Dialed In - Fly to the Stars, by Giant's Causeway), owned by Carolyn Wilson, broke his maiden at Arlington on July 2 as easily as he wanted. However, that victory came in a three-horse race, and gauging a horse's true talent can be hard against such a small field. July 28, The Tabulator headed to Prairie Meadows to try dirt in the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes. He looked well-intentioned -- after all, rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. gave up an entire day of riding at Arlington to take that one call at Prairie Meadows, on The Tabulator. He ran to it, too. Unlike his frontrunning maiden win, The Tabulator's race in the Prairie Gold Juvenile came from a couple of lengths off the pace. He let 1/5 favourite Mr. Jagermeister and Land Battle slug it out early, kicked on strongly in the stretch, and rolled past Mr. Jagermeister to win clear. According to the Arlington barn notes, Rivelli is leaning toward keeping The Tabulator on dirt, and considering the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs or the Delta Jackpot (G3) at Delta Downs as a goal. Rivelli has already won the Iroquois once, with Cocked and Loaded in 2015.
It made sense to wonder whether six-year-old Church Road (Road Ruler - Church's Out, by Cartwright) was the same mare she was last year. After all, after never having missed the board on the Arlington polytrack before this year, the Steve Manley trainee and JB Stables homebred had finished fourth three times earlier in the meet. That fourth-place finish earlier in the meet was troubled, but her two starts leading into Friday at Arlington were both uncharacteristically flat. However, the old Church Road came back to play in Friday's Arlington opener, a classy conditioned Illinois-bred allowance. Settled in touch early, rider Carlos Marquez asked her near the quarter pole, and she responded with a stout rally. She took command into the final furlong, and drew clear to win by two and a quarter lengths over My Mertie. Though it may have been a closer affair had My Mertie not stumbled at the break, the late rally Church Road found makes that her best race so far this year, plain and simple.
Appealing Storm: a claim who keeps paying dividends, almost twenty years on
Broodmare Appealing Storm, whose progeny have run in classy races in Chicago and beyond for over a decade, had an excellent week. Son Captivating Moon (Malibu Moon) debuted a winner at Arlington, and daughter Nobody's Fault (Blame) achieved her first graded stakes placing in the Royal North (G3) at Woodbine.
Appealing Storm's own race record was modest. The Florida-bred daughter of Valid Appeal won twice in thirteen career starts, both times in claiming company down in Florida. Robert Lothenbach claimed her for $40,000 in March of 1999, and raced her five times at Hawthorne through the rest of that year. She failed to hit the board in any of her starts at 35th and Cicero, earning just $1,740 during that time.
Yet, Appealing Storm proved an excellent claim once she got to the breeding shed. Her daughter Vacare (Lear Fan) carried Lothenbach's blue silks into the winners' circle at Keeneland in the 2006 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1). Appealing Storm produced two other graded or group level stakes winners, as well. Single Solution (Flatter), also campaigned as a homebred, won the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes (albeit by disqualification) in 2009. Abtaal (Rock Hard Ten), who sold for $325,000 as a yearling, won the Prix Thomas Bryon (G3) in France at age two.
Daughters of Appealing Storm have also begun to make their mark as producers. In 2012, Single Solution produced No Fault of Mine (Blame). Another Lothenbach homebred, she won the Wayward Lass Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs this year, and is also graded stakes placed on both dirt and polytrack. Debora Ann (Belong to Me), an unraced daughter of Appealing Storm who was sold for just $4,700 as a yearling, went on to produce multiple graded stakes winner Positive Side (Johar).
Trainer Chris Block went right ahead and debuted two-year-old colt Captivating Moon in a maiden special weight going a mile on the grass. The Lothenbach Stables homebred went off just shy of 4/1 in Sunday's Arlington sixth, the third choice in a field of nine. He settled kindly midpack, and showed no rush to engage as the front horses took closer order approaching the far turn. Once rider Carlos Marquez asked him into the far turn, he responded well, and turned for home in striking distance. Marquez got him to the rail, found a hole inside fading pacesetter Just Blaze, and Captivating Moon kicked on strongly to win. He should hold his own in the local juvenile turf division, and knowing his owner's patterns, it would be no surprise to see Captivating Moon get a chance to try his skill against the Kentucky set as well.
The day before, Nobody's Fault went to Woodbine for the Royal North, a six-furlong turf test. The four-year-old filly had been running two turns through much of last year, but the Lothenbach Stables homebred has found her stride this year sprinting on the grass. Second behind Lady Aurelia at 50/1 odds in the Giant's Causeway Stakes at Keeneland in April, the Neil Pessin trainee proved that performance no fluke when she won the Unbridled Sidney at Churchill the next month. After a third place finish in a five-furlong turf allowance, she shipped to Canada to stretch out another eighth of a mile. A little sharp early, Nobody's Fault settled about five lengths off Kasuga's pace going into the far turn. Eventual winner Jennifer Lynette, who had settled farther back, got the jump on Nobody's Fault. Still, rider Luis Contreras coaxed a grinding run out of Nobody's Fault, good enough to prevail in a show photo behind that one and Kasuga.
You can take "Picks & Ponderings" with you anytime, anywhere. You can get Twitter updates @picksponderings for on-scene reports from Arlington International Racecourse. And you can get "Picks and Ponderings" in your e-mail by typing your email address in the box and clicking "Create Subscription." It's a FREE service, and you'll never get any unwanted spam.