Saturday is closing day at Arlington Park! Before racing shifts to Hawthorne -- their Thoroughbred meet starts October 5 -- we're going to visit Arlington Heights one last time.
Closing day features a card of ten races, with full fields thanks to everyone eager to get one last start at Arlington before polytrack racing ends for the summer, or before the sweeping turns of Arlington's turf are replaced with the tighter bends of Hawthorne's.
Selections in races 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are for turf only.
Race 1: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, five and a half furlongs on the polytrack, post time 1:00pm CDT
Selections: Macho Alpha (7), Oscarific (4), Demand Ransom (6)
Trainer Larry Rivelli has two in here: Macho Alpha and Demand Ransom. One of the themes of this meet has been: if Demand Ransom has entered a race, take a long look at the other Rivelli. As this isn't a four-and-a-half-furlong special, that seems like a good plan once again -- especially since Macho Alpha should be fast enough to clear from the outside, especially since Demand Ransom has been known to channel Bayern at times. Should Katano be able to hustle and engage Macho Alpha on the front end, it may set up for a closer. Oscarific gets a jockey upgrade to Jermaine Bridgmohan. He has shown ability to close at this distance, and a run back to either of his last two makes him a solid contender. Barring a bad break, Demand Ransom does deserve a look. The inconsistent son of Munnings does prefer the polytrack to other surfaces. He ran on well enough last time out after taking up, and stayed on surprisingly well late. With a better trip, it might just be his day.
Race 2: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the all-weather, post time 1:31pm CDT
Selections: Put Position (6), Mongolian Time (5), Track Magic (7)
Put Position tried polytrack for the first time last-out, and ran on for a credible second at this level. That was also her first time with rider Chris Emigh in the irons. The stretch to two turns is a question, as the one-turn mile is as long as she has gone, but she showed enough signs of life last-out to appeal here, and is relatively lightly raced in a field so full of career N2L types. Mongolian Time stretches back out to a route -- and given that U Turn the Page hasn't shown early speed in her last two starts, that may well give Mongolian Time an easy lead all the way around. Keeping it down the lane has been a struggle, but he will have a tactical advantage. Track Magic showed some tactical speed last out, tracking in closest range of runaway leader Mongolian Time. With Julio Felix returning to the irons, she will be more forward -- and even though she has tables to turn on Petal Path from that last race, the more recent win makes her slightly more appealing (though Petal Path certainly belongs in second and third slots of exotics).
Race 3: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $9,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N3L OR claiming price $50,000, five furlongs on the turf, post time 2:02pm CDT
Selections: Jockamo's Song (10), Royal Commish (3), Good Bye Greg (1)
Jockamo's Song is saltier than your average N2X horse who is in there under the condition, as he has been a Louisiana-bred stakes horse for years. He scored his N1X victory two starts ago over the Arlington course, showing he can take to it, then ran into a buzzsaw named Bushrod in his last start at Canterbury. Bushrod has been unbeatable this summer -- before beating Jockamo's Song he beat Good Bye Greg over his home turf (five and a half panels on the Arlington poly), and afterwards Bushrod scored in Kentucky Downs's Claiming Crown Canterbury prep. With tactical speed and an outside draw, he should get a clean trip and should stay out of any speed duels. Royal Commish is another who should benefit from there being a lot of pace in this race. He frequently runs on for a share at a big price in turf dashes, and should be able to do so again here. Good Bye Greg is better on polytrack than on turf, but does have a turf dash win. There are several in this field who should be forward, ensuring that Good Bye Greg will have to use a lot of gas early -- but he does have the inside draw, and is fast enough to be the one they'll have to catch down the lane.
Race 4: $4,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, three years old OR N3L, races where entered for $3,200 or less not considered for eligibility, five and a half furlongs on the polytrack, post time 2:34pm CDT
Selections: Running Vicky (8), Her Wild Lifestyle (5), Country Assets (6)
With several one-way speed horses entered, Running Vicky should get a hot pace to run at. She mowed several of her foes from this race when winning at this same level last-out, and has proven effective at this dash distance. She is a trademark Scott Becker cozy condition book fit, too: she's three years old, so she can race in this even though she already has three wins. Her Wild Lifestyle drops in class after beating $7,500 claimers last out. The big drop is normal for the Rivelli barn this time of year; the FOR SALE sign has been up all weekend, and his class droppers have been padding his win total and then getting claimed away. It would be no surprise to see again. Country Assets spent most of the summer facing tougher foes. This is her first try on polytrack, but her rate-and-rally running style suits the race, and its distance suits her.
Race 5: $10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N2L, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 3:06pm CDT
Selections: Workingforaliving (4), Speared (5), Ghost Position (11)
Workingforaliving, a son of English Channel, should appreciate the return to the grass. He graduated over this course two starts back, and has tactical speed. Trainer Roger Brueggemann and rider Jermaine Bridgmohan have been closing the meet with a flourish, and they can get another win photo after Workingforaliving stalks and pounces. Speared is another with tactical speed. He has hit the board in two of his last three, suggesting that these cheaper but not all-the-way-bottom claimers are the right level for him. The move to a mile on grass helps, as his best effort against winners came at that trip. The rider change to Mitchell Murrill helps, too. Ghost Position was hurt by the far-outside post draw, but he should be able to get a prominent spot. Turf is a question, as sire Well Positioned has yet to really have a turf horse. But, at his best he is fast enough, and his race last out suggests his form is looking up.
Race 6: $12,500-$10,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, three years old OR N3L, races where entered for $8,000 or less not considered for eligibility, five furlongs on the turf, post time 3:38pm CDT
Selections: Konza Khrome (8), Star of the Market (2), Hey Hey (5)
Seeing Konza Khrome drop in for $12,500 is suspicious given her recent form against state-bred allowance company, but on the other hand, she lost that Illinois N1X condition and is probably not good enough to clear an open N1X. But, in comparison to this field, she is fast -- the rest will have to find their best to beat her on even a normal day. Grass is the question, as her effort three back was so bad -- but that was also against tougher, and her effort four back in a $12.5K N2L was a near miss closing into lone speed. She'll get more to run at here. Star of the Market has been rating and reliably firing this summer, and does her best work dashing on the grass. With Jose Lopez back in the irons again, and good recent form against salty open claimers, she'll be in the picture late. Hey Hey has been on the bench for about two months, but won off a similar layoff back in the spring. That score came on dirt, but she has turf dash form, including a victory two starts ago against a bit tougher than she faces here. With the meet's leading rider, expect her to find a good effort fresh.
Race 7: Starter optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $5,000 or less since January 1, 2017 OR claiming price $10,000, one mile on the turf, post time 4:10pm CDT
Selections: Golden Gift (11), Red Corvette (1), Purely Boy (2)
Trainer Terry Young has quietly been having a dynamite summer at Arlington. Golden Gift has been in strong form, with three wins and another three seconds this summer. He has tactical versatility (a must given the outside draw), fits the level cozily, has form over the course and distance, and keeps meet-leading rider Jose Valdivia. Red Corvette finished third at this level last time out, beaten a neck by the top selection. Now he returns to turf and cuts back to a mile. He is as good on the grass as he is on the poly, and has two wins in seven tries in turf miles. With tactical speed and the ability to save ground from the inside draw, expect him to be in range throughout and keeping on well in the lane. Purely Boy drops in class after trying a $10K starter allowance going a mile and a half at Kentucky Downs. He also drops in distance considerably, as that race covered a mile and a half. Though he may be even better at a mile and a sixteenth than this flat mile, he has four wins in ten starts at a mile on grass. And, let it never be said that this nine-year-old doesn't love to win horse races -- he has three wins already this Arlington meet, and 20 wins in 50 lifetime starts.
Race 8: Allowance optional claiming, three-year-olds and up, no-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L OR claiming price $18,000, one mile on the turf, post time 4:42pm CDT
Selections: Duchossois (8), Golden Dart (10), Senor Blanco (7)
Duchossois steps up from a debut win on the Million Day undercard to face winners for the first time here. That win came at a mile on the grass, the same course and distance as the race He needs to step up to face the best of these, but it appears he is coming into this race well, and his connections are closing the meet well. Second-start progression would be no surprise. Perhaps Golden Dart regressed on August 11 off a pair of big efforts in the previous weeks, but the son of Pure Prize has gotten a little break since then. He likes the course and distance, and has tactical speed. His form earlier this summer was good enough to make him merit one more try against this one-other-than company, since a run back to either of those efforts makes him a real win candidate. Senor Blanco ran huge when putting blinkers on last-out, and now steps into open allowance company. It is a significant step, but his better races fit. Though that last-out win came on polytrack, the tactically versatile Illinois-bred showed good enough turf mile form earlier this summer to be competitive this time.
Race 9: Allowance, three-year-olds and up, Illinois-registered, non-winners of $9,800 once OR on-winners of a state-bred race other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, five furlongs on the turf, post time 5:14pm CST
Selections: Run Your Race (2), Strike Quiet (9), Wile E Peyote (3), Im the Best I Know (11 - undersides only)
There's no such thing as a clunker from Chris Banks's shedrow: his 9: 2-5-2 record, with a couple spottings that looked ambitious on paper, proves he has been placing his horses impeccably. This is a bit ambitious, moving this horse from $12,500 beaten company into Illinois allowance company -- but with tactical versatility and an excellent rapport with 20% jockey Mitchell Murrill, Run Your Race should make the step admirably. Strike Quiet has found himself as a turf sprinter this summer. He comes second off a freshening, and gets a drop in class. He won't be chasing around horses like Good Bye Greg, Bushrod, and Shogood this time around -- this is the easiest bunch he has seen all summer, and with his tactical speed, rider Jose Lopez has all the options in the world for carving out his trip. Wile E Peyote tried blinkers in his last two starts; they did not suit him. Now he tries a turf sprint for the first time. His debut showed some sprinting aptitude. Though he was off the board in his only turf try, that was at a mile, and he didn't start well. Given his breeding -- by City Zip out of classy turf mare Peyote Patty -- he merits another try on the green stuff. For underneath slots of intra-race exotics, give Im the Best I Know a long look. He tries a turf dash for the first time, but his recent polytrack sprinting form has been good, and trainer Wayne Catalano does not often skip conditions with horses. This horse loves to finish second -- but as a maiden against winners, he can finish second at a price.
Race 10: $12,000-$10,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five and a half furlongs on the all-weather track, post time 5:44pm CST
Selections: Appealing Allure (2), Frosty Friend (4), Aviating (1)
Despite being a half-sister to ace turf routers America Mon Amie and My Bariley, Appealing Allure showed her first signs of life when trying a polytrack sprint earlier this month. She returns to the same level for this race, and with a contested pace likely (thanks to Staria Peach, First Hoosier, and possibly Last Surprize or Silver Skyler), she should get something easier to run at than the well-primed Rocket Queen she had to chase home last out. Frosty Friend has come close in her last two, both sprinting on polytrack. On paper this is a step up, from state-bred maiden claimers to open ones, but this isn't an especially tough bunch for the $12,500 open maiden claiming level. She drew well, should be able to track in range, and shouldn't have too much to do late. Aviating a bit more upside than the usual 0-12 maiden, only because she has shown recent form and is trying something new. She has run on for a piece at this level in her last two starts, one on turf and one on polytrack, and now the daughter of Shanghai Bobby tries a dash distance on the polytrack for the first time. Dam Fraudulent Footnote showed aptitude dashing over synthetic, finishing second on debut in a five-and-a-half furlong polytrack sprint at Del Mar.
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