Arlington's series of late-season overnight stakes continues this Saturday with a pair of $65,000 overnight stakes races named for longtime Chicago trainers who passed away this spring.
The first stakes of the day, a six-furlong sprint for open company, runs in memory of Jeff Lynn. Lynn ran his first horses in Nebraska, at Ak-Sar-Ben and Fonner, in 1993. He made his Chicago debut at Sportsman's Park in the spring of 1996, and began running regularly on the circuit in the fall of 1997. In the course of his career, Lynn made 3,004 starts, winning exactly 300 of them. His most prominent recent horse was Meshell, winner of the 2015 Fort Springs Stakes at Keeneland, and third behind Call Pat and Streamline in the 2016 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park. Other top horses Lynn trained during the course of his career included 2001 Panthers Stakes winner Kerry Blue, 1998 Canterbury Juvenile Stakes winner Loveme Legend, and 2002 Secretariat Stakes (G1) fourth-place finisher Major Rhythm.
The day's second stakes race, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, will be run in memory of Richard Scherer. Scherer sent out his first starters in 1985, and won 805 of the 5,556 starts he made between then and 2017. Scherer made his first starts in Chicago in the spring of 1989 at Sportsman's Park. During the course of his career, he had four graded stakes winners: Shires Ende won both the 1999 Ashland Mile (G3) and the 1999 Locust Grove Handicap (G3), Minor Wisdom won the 1999 Hawthorne Derby, Mystery Giver won the 2004 Mervin Muniz, Jr. Memorial Handicap (G2), and Mr. Vegas won the 2012 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap (G3). Other recent horses of his to succeed in stakes company include 2016 Ta Wee Stakes winner Inconclusive, 2014 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante winner Tizgorgeous, and 2013 Arlington-Washington Lassie winner She's Offlee Good.
Updated Saturday, September 16 to account for the scratches of MONGOL BULL, SHOGOOD, RICHIESINTHEHOUSE, and ARMANDO'S STAR from the Jeff Lynn Memorial, and the scratches of LUVIN BULLIES and DARLIN ROSIE from the Richard Scherer Memorial.
Saturday, September 16 - Arlington Park
Race 4: Jeff Lynn Memorial Stakes, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 3:01pm CDT
This race originally drew a field of nine, but scratches have brought it down to a field of five. Trainer Larry Rivelli kept GOOD BYE GREG and scratched RICHIESINTHEHOUSE. Trainer Scott Becker kept both ST. LOUIE GUY and GONEGHOST, but scratched SHOGOOD to run him instead in race 2 of the day, an Illinois-bred allowance.
The one to beat as the race was originally drawn is Rivelli trainee GOOD BYE GREG, and the scratches only strengthen his case. He will be a short price -- but looks a stone cold single. The son of Teuflesberg is the fastest horse in the field, has never lost going six furlongs on a synthetic surface, and never been off the board over Arlington's main. Unlike the other most threatening speed, Becker hope GONEGHOST, GOOD BYE GREG has proven himself to be able to rate from off the pace and win. This gives him two options in the scratch-marred field: just gun it (which he did two back, leaving GONEGHOST to chase him every step of the way), Anyone who hopes to beat GOOD BYE GREG will have to run the race of their life, and hope GOOD BYE GREG has an off day. Though GOOD BYE GREG has had a lot of long layoffs in his career -- when he's right, he's hard to beat, and this summer he has been as right as ever.
As originally drawn, SHOGOOD looked best of the three Becker entries. But, with him out and several of the speed horses defecting, GONEGHOST should at least hit the board. The polytrack played very well for speed on Thursday and Friday, and GONEGHOST is the only one left in the field who really stands to get near GOOD BYE GREG early. It's difficult to think GONEGHOST will turn the tables on him from three back -- GOOD BYE GREG could easily, once again, leave GONEGHOST chasing every step of the way -- but chasing that one all the way around should be good for second money.
With the scratches, it's difficult not to see speed carry the day, but there is a lot of pace. Most of the field has shown some serious early pace -- the only exception being REIGNING CATFISH, who likes to rally from well off of it. With a meltdown somewhat less likely it is hard to imagine REIGNING CATFISH getting all the way there, but one of his best races should get him a piece. The son of Bellamy Road consistently gets shares over the course (23: 4-5-5) and the distance (12: 3-6-3), and he consistently makes late improvement. REIGNING CATFISH will need several major clunkers in front of him to win -- but he should get enough pace help to finish in the money.
#3 GOOD BYE GREG (8/5)
#7 GONEGHOST (2/1)
#2 REIGNING CATFISH (15/1)
Longshot: With ARMANDO'S STAR defecting to the allowance earlier in the day, and the field down to five, the longshot writer has already caught the bus to Presque Isle Downs.
Race 6: Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, post time 4:07pm CDT
This race drew a field of eight fillies and mares, and PUNTSVILLE is the one to beat. She comes off a decisive win over THOUGHTLESS in the Hoist Her Flag Stakes at Canterbury last month; though that came on dirt, PUNTSVILLE is a fast horse and a stakes winner on polytrack, as well. The one question about PUNTSVILLE, and the thing that makes her slightly hard to love at a short price, is the pace. SHACKIN UP and BLACK ANGEL both show early speed -- BLACK ANGEL is probably a little too slow early to give PUNTSVILLE a serious challenge early, but SHACKIN UP is fast enough to do so. If PUNTSVILLE can dig back to the form she showed earlier in her career and find that ability to stalk again, she could win this anyway. But, if she sticks to her more recent run-it-and-gun-it style, SHACKIN UP might make it very hard for her to see the six furlongs through without being passed.
With that being said, it makes sense to take a shot with the horse for whom SHACKIN UP appears to be making a bit of pace: stablemate DIADURA. DIADURA returns to the Arlington polytrack for the first time since winning last year's Arlington-Washington Lassie. She has not won since that decisive score, but has shown signs of life in her last two starts, in which Stidham has stopped trying to send the daughter of Hard Spun a route of ground, and cut her back to one turn. Her late kick is back, and this sprint trip on her favourite surface should be exactly what DIADURA needs to run back to the promise she showed last year. If SHACKIN UP does her job on the front, DIADURA looms the threat late.
THOUGHTLESS, if she runs to her best, could also threaten late. That is a bit more of a question, only because DIADURA has proven polytrack form and THOUGHTLESS does not. THOUGHTLESS has run over the Arlington main just once; she debuted over the course at two. She finished midpack, and then took a serious step forward on the switch to dirt next out. Of course, one can argue that the step forward had to do more with second-start progression than with surface. If that is the case, then THOUGHTLESS is in plenty good form to turn the tables on PUNTSVILLE, since the grey mare will get more front-end competition than she did at Canterbury. Still, it depends on price. Watch the tote, because you can't take too short a price on THOUGHTLESS taking to the Arlington poly, in a stakes race against so many other proven polytrack runners.
#4 DIADURA (9/2)
#5 PUNTSVILLE (9/5)
#1 THOUGHTLESS (5/2)
Longshot: The #8 BLACK ANGEL (5/1) that previous owner William Stiritz and previous trainer Scott Becker must have hoped to see when they privately purchased her off a strong maiden score last year never materialized in their hands. They dropped her in for $10,000 at Hawthorne this spring, owner Antonio Meraz and trainer Manny Perez dropped a claim slip, and the BLACK ANGEL we've seen this summer has been a better incarnation. The Hold Me Back filly has gotten her picture taken four times this summer, including last out in an open N1X allowance-optional. Though most of that form has come going six and a half furlongs, she did beat a conditioned $25,000 set two starts back going a flat six, and three of her six career wins have come at the distance. The question is whether she can beat these horses from somewhere other than the front end; though she does have some good form battling and even rating, those races have come against much cheaper horses, and she would have to have rocket boosters to outgun PUNTSVILLE and SHACKIN UP early. But, if she can do that, she can figure at a price.
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