Friday's card at Arlington features a juvenile maiden special weight at a mile on the grass. All seven of the runners have raced at least once before, with five of the seven having tried a mile on the grass before. Only Sayin Grace and Patch's Lugh have not yet gone two turns; both have only raced once, sprinting on the Arlington polytrack.
The only trainer who sends out more than one entrant is Chris Block. Block sends out two colts, both owned by Lothenbach Stables, both of whom were pricey auction purchases as yearlings. Rail-drawn Pleasant Moon was a $150,000 acquisition at Keeneland September last year; More Than A. P. sold for over twice that, $310,000.
Updated Friday, August 24 to account for the scratch of D J Mac.
- PLEASANT MOON (3/1) - This colt is a second-time starter by Malibu Moon. 28% of his two-year-olds to have started won as juveniles, and his 6.6-furlong average winning distance for northern-hemisphere juveniles suggests they don't need short baby races to succeed at two. Dam Miss Pleasant (Pleasantly Perfect) was unraced at two, but her record on the track did suit this turf mile well: she was Grade 3-placed at a mile on the grass, a stakes winner at a mile and a sixteenth on dirt, and a winner at a mile and a sixteenth on Tapeta. Her only other starter, Linda Mimi (Congrats), did not race at two but was a winner and stakes-placed routing on dirt at age three. Looking farther up the pedigree, her second dam Harvest the Gold (Spend a Buck) produced Love Lock (Silver Ghost), a debut winner at age two, and winner of the Debutante (G3) at one turn and the Golden Rod (G3) and Hollywood Starlet (G1) at two turns on dirt at age two. Harvest the Gold also produced Chelle Spendabuck (Dare and Go), an unraced mare who went on to produce multiple Grade 3-winning dirt sprinter Stallwalkin' Dude (City Place).
- SAYIN GRACE (10/1) - This colt is a second-time starter by second-crop sire Make Music For Me, who was owned in part during his racing career by Peter O. Johnson, the owner/breeder of Sayin Grace. Make Music For Me was graded stakes placed going long on both dirt and all-weather, including a third-place finish in the CashCall Futurity (G1) on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. Though all his graded placings came on other surfaces, all four of his wins came on turf, and he broke his maiden in the Pasadena Stakes, a turf mile, in spring of his three-year-old year. He has two winners of ten to start: Maid of Music won a Tapeta sprint first-out at age two, and Triple Shot won a dirt sprint at second asking (and has followed up with two more dirt sprint wins). Dam True Way of Grace (Yes It's True) has only one other starter, Copper Wind (Shackleford), who did not start at two and was unplaced in both starts at three. True Way of Grace herself, campaigned by Johnson as well, broke her maiden in her third start at two, in a dirt sprint stakes at Fairplex. Later in her career she won an all-weather sprint as well. Rocketazo, her half-brother by Spring At Last, was a Grade 2 winner in Peru going long over both dirt and turf.
- PATCH'S LUGH (10/1) - This colt makes his second start. He is by Overanalyze, a sire whose progeny have been rather smart at two: 33 winners among 88 to start. They have also won at a respectable 15% rate first time on the grass. Dam Golden Victress (Carson City) has produced four starters other than Patch's Lugh, all winners, though none have yet won on the grass. Those include one two-year-old winner, Victorytart (Jump Start), who won at fourth asking in a dirt sprint. Golden Victress herself won at tenth asking, at age four, going seven furlongs on dirt. Other close relatives showed more precocity, albeit also going short on the main. Her full sister, Paved In Gold, won the G2 Astarita S. at Belmont, a six-and-a-half-furlong juvenile dirt sprint. Her half-sister Dressed In Gold (Black Tie Affair) graduated second-out at two, in a six-furlong sprint on dirt, and followed that up with a stakes win going seven furlongs on dirt at Ellis.
- D J MAC (20/1) - scratched - This third-time starter's pedigree was discussed before his August 4 race. In summary, it slants heavily toward sprinting on dirt.
- MORE THAN A. P. (2/1) - This colt makes his second start, and his pedigree was covered in detail before his August 4 debut. Sire More Than Ready is as versatile as it gets; most of his dam's family consists of dirt sprinters, though there are some relatives who have successfully stretched to a mile and beyond.
- KID LEMUEL (9/5) - This colt is a second-time starter by Ice Box. Though Ice Box was a dirt router, his dam was a Grade 3-winning turf router, and his progeny win at a useful 11% on the grass. About a fifth of his two-year-olds to race are winners, 17 of 86. Kid Lemuel is out of the Grand Slam mare I'm Cozy. That makes the colt a full brother to Dubby Dubbie, a second-out winner at age two, a two-time winner at age three over grass, and third in the American Derby (G3) this year. I'm Cozy won the first two of her four career starts, a dirt sprint and a dirt mile, both at Oaklawn early in her three-year-old year. Second dam Two's Cozy (Cozzene) was unraced; five of her six foals are winners, and her sixth is a current two-year-old named Follow the Dog (Bandbox) who finished second in his debut earlier this month. Two of her foals have won first out: Top Striker (Van Nistelrooy) won at a mile and a sixteenth at age three, and would go on to become a G1-winning steeplechaser. Clever Mind (Buffum) debuted in the Maryland Million Nursery Stakes last year, a six-furlong dirt sprint, and justified his connections' ambition with a two-length win.
- LUCKY FAST (12/1) - A third-time starter, this colt is by Drosselmeyer. His pedigree was covered in detail before his August 4 race. In summary his pedigree is route-oriented, with two-year-old class and form over both turf and dirt.
With the scratch of D J Mac, #1 Pleasant Moon becomes downright formidable. Between the rail draw, the blinkers-on, and the fact that he showed some speed without blinkers on debut, he should be able to send, save ground, and have something left for the end. The two-year-old breeding is good, the route breeding is good, and the addition of Lasix may help as well. Expect him to be in the picture gate to wire.
The other Block entrant, #5 More Than A. P., also has appeal. He had a tough time first-out: he drew the rail, had his back legs slip out from under him on the first turn (though he amazingly stayed on his feet), chased patiently, and rallied vigorously for second in the lane. Now he has the race behind him, doesn't draw the rail, and comes in having proven he can handle some adversity. It looked before he slipped that he wasn't going to settle quite that far back on debut, and being more tactical may give him the best run on his frontrunning stablemate.
#6 Kid Lemuel was hurt by the scratch; last out he rallied nicely from well off the pace, but the scratch turns this from a two-speed race to a lone-speed affair. This is the right kind of spot for him: he is well bred for turf, and his debut suggested that two turns on grass is exactly where he belongs. He overcame some trouble in his Ellis Park unveiling last month, and closed with good interest. Especially with some improvement he should be fast enough to get in the picture, but whether he can
For a longer shot, especially to get a piece underneath, consider #7 Lucky Fast. He took a modest step forward from his debut to his second start, with the stretch to a route, the switch to grass, and the change to strong maiden rider Edgar Perez. He still needs to take another step forward for this race, but adding the blinkers should have him involved a bit earlier. Though that may not be enough to win him this race, it could easily get him into the intra-race exotics.
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.