2018 Addison Cammack Memorial Handicap and Isaac Murphy Handicap Preview

This Saturday begins the set of state-bred summer stakes races at Arlington Park.  The card features a pair of sprint stakes for older horses: the Addison Cammack Memorial Handicap for open-company Illinois-breds, and the Isaac Murphy Handicap for fillies and mares.  Both races will be contested at six furlongs on the polytrack, and both races have a base purse of $50,000 with another $25,000 to sweeten the pot for any horses who were both conceived and foaled in the state.

Morning line was unavailable at original publish time.

Race 5: Addison Cammack Memorial Handicap, Illinois-registered, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the polytrack, post time 3:21pm CST

After a one-year hiatus due to the race not filling last year, the Addison Cammack Memorial Handicap returns to the Arlington calendar this year.  Though last year's scare horse RECOUNT (winner of the Addison Cammack in both 2015 and 2016, and last-out winner of the Robert S. Molaro Handicap at Hawthorne) returns to the field, the Illinois-bred sprint division is deeper now than it was last year, and five foes have signed on to face the venerable son of Limehouse.

This race is contested in memory of Addison Cammack, a longtime Chicago racing fixture.  Early in his life he ran a pony business in Chicago, and he also started a horse transportation business that grew into Creech Horse Transportation.  Cammack passed away in 2011, and the race was renamed in his honour starting in 2013.  Before that, the race was known as the White Oak Handicap.  RECOUNT is not the only two-time winner of this race, as local mainstays Tic N Tin (2001-2002), High Expectations (2006-2007), Shrewd Operator (2010-2011), and Sweet Luca (2013-2014) have also performed the feat.  RECOUNT would be the first three-time winner if he hits the wire first on Saturday.

Most of the wagering attention will likely focus on the proven pair of RECOUNT and GONEGHOST.  RECOUNT has won the last two runnings of this race, and comes off a well-within-himself victory in the Molaro at Hawthorne.  Alex Canchari, his regular rider nowadays, ships back down to Chicago to ride RECOUNT, a positive.  But, the question is how he will deal with GONEGHOST -- RECOUNT is a blazing-fast horse early, but so is GONEGHOST.  GONEGHOST ran a huge race last out, running on after a speed duel to finish second in the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup.  Though he cuts back from a mile to six furlongs here, the speedy and versatile son of Cherokee Rap has shown true sprint speed when cutting back in trip.  Both GONEGHOST and RECOUNT are quality horses: fast, consistent, and well proven on the Arlington poly.  Between the two RECOUNT is slightly preferred, simply because he is a bit better proven when dueling early against better horses.

But, with those two major contenders being best on the front end, and SPECTACULAR ROAD being fast enough to harass them briefly as well?  It makes sense to look for a quality horse who could run them down late.

That's exactly what you get with DEVILEYE.  He does have some tables to turn, as GONEGHOST is the only horse who has ever finished in front of DEVILEYE.  But, both of those races in which DEVILEYE beat GONEGHOST were last fall.  Now four, DEVILEYE has had a bit more time to grow into himself.  He impressed in his seasonal debut on opening weekend: against open company for the first time, he blew the field out of the water while in hand the entire way.  He didn't have a terribly fast pace to chase in that effort, and should get an even better setup here.  Of course, GONEGHOST and RECOUNT are better than those N1X foes he beat last out.  But with such a consistent race record and a devastating ability in the stretch, DEVILEYE may get the perfect setup to spring the upset second off the lay.

Selections:

#6 DEVILEYE (7/2)

#2 RECOUNT (7/5)

#3 GONEGHOST (8/5)

Longshot:  It is difficult seeing anyone other than the top three selections win.  But, for a longshot underneath in an intra-race exotic, why not #5 PURELY GIVEN (8/1)?  Like DEVILEYE, PURELY GIVEN is another who can show some late pace.  His form this year has been good, as he didn't embarrass himself at Oaklawn in the winter.  Though PURELY GIVEN has been racing on dirt recently, he does have some back form over the Arlington polytrack, with three wins and another five money finishes in eleven tries.  He also has six wins and another ten money finishes at the six-furlong distance.  If PURELY GIVEN can find his best, he should get the right trip to nab a share underneath.

Race 7: Isaac Murphy Handicap, Illinois-registered, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the polytrack, post time 4:23pm CST

This weekend at Arlington Park, Illinois-bred filly and mare sprinters take the spotlight for the Isaac Murphy Handicap.  The race is run in honour of Isaac Murphy -- the first ever jockey to be elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame when it opened in 1955.  During the course of his career, he won at a rate few jockeys will ever know: 530 times over 1,538 races, for a 34.5% win rate.  One of the many excellent horses Murphy rode during his career remains a stakes namesake at Arlington.  Murphy's lone Kentucky Oaks win came with the filly Modesty (1884).  That same year, Murphy won the American Derby with Modesty -- the first of his four career wins in that race.

The Isaac Murphy Handicap has been run in some incarnation since 1976, though it has only been a six-furlong sprint for Illinois-bred fillies and mares since 1997.  Marquee winners during its filly and mare days have included graded stakes winner Summer Mis (2003), Hawthorne stakes namesake Third Chance (2012), and Bluesbdancing (2006), herself not only a good racemare but also the dam of graded stakes placed Illinois-bred Babybluesbdancing.

Before that, its distances varied between seven furlongs and a mile and an eighth -- and was not restricted to Illinois-breds, or even to fillies and mares.  Its most illustrious competitor over the years did not even win the race: in 1990, Black Tie Affair finished second behind Beau Genius.  Later that year Black Tie Affair would finish third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1); the next year, he would win the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), and horse of the year accolades.  The race's only two-time winner also won it during its open days: multiple graded stakes winner Taylor's Special won in both 1986 and 1987.  PUNTSVILLE will once again try to match that feat this year; she won in 2016, and finished second behind One Liz last year.

The race drew nine, and though she will almost certainly go off favoured, the aforementioned PUNTSVILLE looms large.  Though the six-year-old grey has not raced in six months, PUNTSVILLE has a well-proven ability to fire first off the lay.  She is the fastest horse in the field early, but even if she gets a bit of competition from the likes of MY DARLING SOFIA or GAME TIME DECISION early, PUNTSVILLE has shown ability to survive an early battle and stay six furlongs against this quality of company.  With eight wins in eleven tries at this distance, five wins in nine tries over the polytrack, and a rider upgrade to Carlos Marquez, PUNTSVILLE is the one to beat.

DANDY GAL has seen her form go up and down through the course of her career, but looks in good formright now.  She denied a gritty and in-form GO LADY JAY last out in the Third Chance Handicap on April 28, her first race off a lay, and now makes her second start of the year.  Though she was close to the front in a short field last out, she has form sitting farther off the pace, a positive, since she won't be well suited by trying to go with a horse as fast early as PUNTSVILLE.  Though she was well beaten in the Isaac Murphy last year, she comes into the race in better form that she did last year, and she has been able to run well over the Arlington polytrack when she's in form.  With her tactical ability, she looks PUNTSVILLE's biggest threat.

GO LADY JAY also comes into the Isaac Murphy in fine form, and demands respect.  The daughter of Run Away and Hide is a stakes winner over the Arlington polytrack going the one-turn mile, but she has blazed into her five-year-old season with excellent form at more traditional sprint distances.  She gamely prevailed in an allowance-optional at five and a half furlongs at Hawthorne in April, then missed by a neck behind DANDY GAL in the Third Chance.  A tactically versatile type who would be well suited sitting a couple lengths off the pace -- just like she did in the Third Chance -- GO LADY JAY has been working well leading into this race and should be in the frame once again.

Selections:

#6 PUNTSVILLE (4/5)

#8 DANDY GAL (8/1)

#2 GO LADY JAY (10/1)

Longshot:  #4 CHURCH ROAD (8/1) takes a step up in class for her second start of the year.  But, she got a nice confidence builder against state-bred $20,000 claimers on opening weekend.  The seven-year-old grey has long been her best on the Arlington polytrack: all eight of her career wins have come on the surface, and she has been on the board for twenty of her twenty-three career tries over it.  Six furlongs is also her best distance.  The pace should be honest early with MY DARLING SOFIA and GAME TIME DECISION there to prompt PUNTSVILLE early, setting up well for CHURCH ROAD to run on late.

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