We know summer is elapsing as the two-year-old main-track maiden races get longer. They started at four and a half furlongs, have run five, then five and a half. Now, Thursday's Arlington first is the track's first six-furlong juvenile maiden race. An open maiden special weight, the race drew a field of eight: two who have raced, and six who have not.
Dazzling Truths has run twice. He chased flashy (both in auction purchase and in facial chrome) favourite Strong Will around on debut. Second-out, he found himself in a familiar position: chasing another Rivelli firster, Get Hammered, all the way around. Those suggest he has at least a modicum of early speed, but the question remains whether anyone else sends.
There are two who could try to beat Dazzling Truths to the front. One candidate is Dabo; Dabo is a first-time starter, but he has a few fast works and he has some siblings (also from the Rainwater barn) who love being on the front end. Another possibility for pace is third-time starter Ready and Rich, the only other one than Dazzling Truth who has shown up on race day. Ready and Rich made the running until the final furlong in his second start, though he rallied from well out of it to finish second again next-out. That suggests he might go -- but if others do or he encounters more early trouble, he is just fine sitting off the running.
No trainer has more than one horse in the field. Six of the eight conditioners regularly race at Arlington, though Ignacio Correas's entrant Ready and Rich has been part of Correas's Kentucky string, not his Arlington string. He has run thrice at Churchill before visiting Chicago, and even his recent works have been at Keeneland. Ian Wilkes, already a debut two-year-old winner on the meet with Madison's Quarters on July 13, ships in Tequila Cowboy to make his first start. Jack Sisterson, a former Doug O'Neill assistant who now trains privately for Calumet Farm, makes his first Arlington start with Snaffallini.
- TEQUILA COWBOY (6/1) - This juvenile colt is by Majestic Warrior, himself a precocious type, who produced some precocious two-year-olds here as well before moving to Japan, though even with that his average winning distance is seven furlongs. His babies win first-out at a useful 12% rate. Dam Gigglin' Gal did win twice during her racing career, but it took her until her ninth career start to get off the mark and both of her victories came at two turns on dirt. Gigglin' Gal is a Consolidator half-sister to Island Town (Hard Spun), a two-year-old maiden winner at a mile and a two-time G3 winner (the 1 1/16 mile Matt Winn and the 1 mile 70 yard Smarty Jones) at age three.
- MICHAEL T (9/2) - This colt is by second-crop sire Graydar, who just had his first juvenile stakes winner (albeit on dirt) when The Gray Dehere romped in the six-furlong Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows. He was a second-out maiden winner at Lone Star, out of a Henny Hughes mare. Graydar just had a two-year-old winner at Arlington, My Jilly -- though that came at a mile on the grass, as her four-and-a-half-furlong polytrack debut resulted in a third-place finish well behind next-out stakes-placed Agi's Cait. Dam Charming Becky has had one other baby to race, a City Zip filly who was unplaced in five starts last year. The family hasn't produced a lot recently, but Michael T's third dam Manduria produced Mandy's Gold, a G1 winner at a mile and a G3 winner at seven furlongs, who in turn produced multiple stakes place sprinter Golden Ghost (Ghostzapper). Fourth dam Maggie O'Shea produced champion sprinter Gallant Bob -- a durable sort who did his best at three, but did win a stakes at two.
- FLATSTER (15/1) - Though sire Flatter is a son of stamina merchant A. P. Indy, he has a track record of siring quality sprinters -- and has a trio of two-year-old sprint stakes winners already this year with Stifling, Baby Nina, and La Fuerza. Flatster is the first foal to race out of the Illinois-bred War Chant mare Frabster -- who you will inevitably remember if you hung around the Chicago tracks in the mid-aughts. She won at second asking at age two, going five furlongs on the Arlington polytrack. Through her career she proved she could win on any surface, though she was arguably best on polytrack. Second dam Tiz A Jewel won at both one turn and two, albeit on dirt; both her other progeny, Bellamy Road babies Crusader Girl Too and Glamala, both showed their best moments going longer on dirt. Yet, between Frabster's own record, Frabster being by War Chant, and Flatster herself being by Flatter? The pedigree suits a juvenile polytrack sprint quite well.
- SNAFFALLINI (15/1) - Snaffallini is by second-crop sire Snapy Halo. Snapy Halo has yet to sire a first-out winner, and has no winners of three two-year-olds to start this year -- though, he had some success later in the year, as six of his 13 juveniles to start last year eventually won before the year was out. Snapy Halo himself was a sprinter-miler; he's gravitating that way as a sire as well, but it's still too early to be sure. On the bottom, Snaffallini is out of the Bernardini mare Rafaelini. Her only foal to race so far is Bandito, a Creative Cause colt who won at second asking as a juvenile, in a nine-furlong dirt race (washed off turf) at Keeneland. Rafaelini herself hit the board in both starts at two, once in a sprint and once in a route, and finally got off the mark at three in a one-turn mile at Churchill. There is a pinch of precocity further up the family tree; second dam Oblivious (Cozzene) placed in a pair of sprint stakes at two, including one at Fort Erie. In addition to Rafaelini, Oblivious also produced Street Storm (Stormy Atlantic), who graduated in a maiden special weight sprint at Hawthorne and hit the board in the Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds next out.
- DABO (15/1) - This colt is by Temple City. First-out and sprint are not necessarily Temple City's forte: his get only win at a 6% rate first-out, and his best have typically been milers and routers. At this point he only has one two-year-old winner of twelve to start this year. The all-weather surface should suit, at least eventially: Temple City himself thrived on both all weather and turf, and his previous visit with Dabo's dam Sullied But Sweet (Conveyor) produced Cooper's Keeper. Cooper's Keeper has eleven career wins, nine of which have come on polytrack, with scores at both one turn and two. Sullied But Sweet's other foals have preferred to go longer, but it's safe to say that she is a proven polytrack producer: Copus (Northern Afleet) won at a mile and longer on polytrack, and Northern Sweet (Northern Afleet) also won at a mile on poly. The pedigree suggests Dabo ought to love the Arlington main -- but may need a little time to get going.
- CLOUDCRAZE (15/1) - This colt is by first-crop sire Revolutionary. Revolutionary has one winner of five to start so far -- but that one was Maiden Beauty, who promptly failed to live up to the first half of her name when she won the six-furlong Lynbrook Stakes on debut. Cloudcraze is the first starter out of his dam Graduation Day (Congrats), a mare who won second-out at two in a dirt sprint, and always did her best sprinting on dirt. Her synthetic-track career was short and ordinary; only four of her 21 starts came on an all-weather surface, all at Presque Isle, with her only money finish being a second in a six-furlong sprint. Though, Cloudcraze's family reveals some two-year-old promise -- she is a full sister to Holiday Magic, who won first-out at two in a dirt sprint at Calder, hit the board in all the Florida Stallion Stakes over the track that summer, and even won the Brave Raj Stakes there at a mile and seventy yards against open juveniles late that summer. Like her full sister, her synthetic form was less exciting: her only synthetic-track start came in the OBS Champion Stakes early in her three-year-old year, and she finished third.
- DAZZLING TRUTHS (7/2) - Dazzling Truths is by Yes It's True: a precocious juvenile whose babies win at a respectable 14% first-time out. His sprinter progeny include champion La Verdad (who wasn't a 2yo winner, as she didn't run as a juvenile, but won 2nd out at three) and the brilliant The Big Beast. His dam Differentiate (Include) has yet to produce a winner in three starters. She was half to a precocious filly, Never Out, a first-out winner in a dirt sprint who went on to finish second in the 2001 Alcibiades (G2) at Keeneland.
- READY AND RICH (6/5) - This colt is by Super Saver: a Derby winner who held his own with juveniles who have run, with 64 two-year-old winners of 200 two-year-old starters to date. Though most of his runners have tended to be milers or routers, he has been able to produce quality sprinters, none better than Runhappy. A modest $36K purchase for Wimborne Farm principal Diane Perkins, Ready and Rich was the first starter out of unraced dam Ready Reply. Second dam Leo's Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus) won first-out at three, sprinting on the Oaklawn dirt, though the rest of her victories came in routes. She produced the classy and precocious Battle Force (Giant's Causeway); his two-year-old form, as with his older form, came at a mile on grass. Further up in the family shows more precocity on grass, as third dam Leo's Lucky Lady produced a pair of Group-quality juvenile turf sprinters.
This field features a pair of interesting local longshots who are well-related for polytrack. Keep Dabo in your pocket for later, as a little more time and distance should do him good. On the other hand, Flatster looks like a horse ready to go right now. If the 15/1 morning line holds, run to the windows. The pedigree is good for a precocious polytrack sprinter, and the works are regular and numerous. Trainer Jon Cowan does not sent out a lot of first-timers, but his first-timers always seem to go off at prices, and he has won with two of his last nine for a strong positive ROI.
Ready and Rich will likely go off the favourite. Top jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. rides, and he has the most experience in the field. He has already shown he can sprint, and that he can run a good race from on or off the pace. The one question is polytrack, as he has so far run only on dirt. The surface question at a short price helps make a local longshot appealing -- but if Ready and Rich turns out to handle the poly as well as he handles the dirt, he has every chance to run to the money.
Dazzling Truths isn't as appealing on the win end as Flatster or Ready and Rich, especially at a relatively short price. But, given what he has shown in both his starts to date, he belongs underneath in exotics.
Watch the board and the paddock behaviour for Michael T. Trainer Jim DiVito does know two-year-olds well, but he hasn't been as hot recently with debut runners as he had been in previous years. It is a positive to see Edgar Perez aboard, as he shines with lightly-raced maidens.
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