Thursday's Arlington card features a pair of two-year-old maiden races. We tackled the day's third race, a maiden special weight polytrack sprint for Illinois-breds, in a separate piece. Here, we tackle the second of the day's pair of juvenile races.
Race 4: $25,000 maiden claiming, two-year-olds, one mile on the turf, post time 2:47pm CDT
Of the eight horses in the race, all hail from different barns and different ownership -- a novelty in this summer's juvenile maiden races at Arlington. Only one makes his debut, rail-drawn English Laughter.
Only Hurrican Hank has tried the grass before, but it's not for lack of trying: Umusbthstalltoride, Sertoman, Varykino, Jimmy At Last, and Fort Desoto have all been washed off the grass. Hurricane Hank, Umusbthstalltoride, Varykino, Jimmy At Last, and Fort Desoto all have two-turn tries underneath them.
Three of the eight horses in this field were sold at public auction, though all three were sold for less than the claiming price in this race. English Laughter was a $20K yearling buy, Varykino was a $4.5K short yearling, and Jimmy At Last sold for $23K as a two-year-old in training this April.
- ENGLISH LAUGHTER (3/1) - This colt is by well-proven turf route sire English Channel. a 14% winner on the grass, though a 10% winner first-time turf. He is best known for his older horses, and his progeny statistics bear that out -- only 54 of his 224 juvenile runners have won at two. Even at two his progeny tend to want to go longer than many; his average two-year-old winning distance is 7.34 furlongs in the northern hemisphere. (This figure is representative, as he has only had 14 juvenile starters in the southern hemisphere.) Dam Dahlia Dearest (A. P. Indy) was unraced at two and unplaced in seven starts at age three. She has produced five winners, though none won first-out and none won at two. Two of those winners won at sprint distances; three won going a mile or more. Her best foal to date has been Our Dahlia (Belong to Me), winner at mile and route winner over both dirt and turf, and third behind Rachel Alexandra in the 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks. Looking further up the family suggests age and distance suit; English Laughter's second dam Miss Dahlia (Strawberry Road) produced Capital Plan (Rock Hard Ten), a two time graded stakes winner at ten furlongs on grass, as well as Skellytown (Thunder Gulch), third in the San Juan Capistrano (G3) at fourteen furlongs on turf.
- HURRICANE HANK (6/1) - His pedigree was discussed before his debut on August 4. The pedigree suggests a mile or even longer on grass would suit well; juvenile form is no foregone conclusion, though there is a bit of two-year-old success under his second dam.
- UMUSBTHSTALLTORIDE (10/1) - This colt is by Point of Entry, a second-crop sire who didn't start at two. Though his strike rate at two hasn't been great -- 18 winners of 63 juveniles to start so far -- the ones who have figured it out have been good, and he already has three juvenile stakes winners on grass (Analyze It, My Gal Betty, Entirely). He is the first starter out of dam Fun In Motion (Orientate), a mare who did not start at two and won a one-turn dirt mile at age four. Fun In Motion is one of five winners out of her dam; both the best and most precocious was Dream About (Cherokee Run), who won at second asking at two going seven furlongs on dirt, and followed that up with a win in the G2 Mazarine S. at a mile and a sixteenth on dirt. Second dam Social Director (Deputy Minister) did not race at two, won third-out at three, and was a stakes-winning dirt sprinter. Social Director is half to four other winners, including Non Sibi (Wild Deputy) who won a dirt sprint second-out at two, as well as Precision Farming, who won a grass sprint on debut at three.
- SERTOMAN (12/1) - This colt is by second-crop sire Paynter. He was unraced at two, and most of his foals are appreciating some time to mature, based on his 19 winners out of 74 juvenile starters. Though Paynter was a dirt router, his foals are holding their own on grass; though they only have a 7% first-time turf win rate, they have a 14% general turf win rate. Dam Song for Annie (Sultry Song) had no precocity, though grew into a multiple stakes winner at two turns on grass at age four and five. She has produced six winners of nine to start, including one stakes winner: Successful Song (Successful Appeal), a dirt rout winner at second asking at age two, who went on to be a multiple stakes winner (and multiple graded stakes placed in miles and routes on dirt. Successful Song is Song for Annie's only juvenile winner, though two of her other winners have prevailed on grass.
- VARYKINO (8/1) - He is by Girolamo, a two-year-old debut winner who shined in extended one-turn races on dirt. The turf record of his progeny is useful: 11% win rate on the grass, 8% first time on turf. This colt is the first starter out of dam Rip Roarin Holiday (Harlan's Holiday), an unraced mare. Second dam Aroarable (Roar) did not race at two, but won second-out at three in a dirt sprint at Hawthorne, and went on to a minor stakes placing sprinting on dirt. Aroarable went on to produce Emona (Hat Trick), a first-out winner at age three sprinting on an all-weather track. She proved versatile, and was stakes-placed sprinting on all-weather and Grade 3-placed routing on dirt.
- JIMMY AT LAST (9/2) - This colt is by Temple City. His best have typically been milers and routers, and most of them have needed time to develop. Though, distance tends to suit them even at two, as evidenced by Temple City's 6.85 furlong average winning distance for juveniles. This colt is the first starter out of dam Tajol (Spring At Last), unplaced in her only start at age two but a winner at three and four sprinting over the Presque Isle Tapeta. Second dam Bare It Properly (Proper Reality) won on debut at age three, sprinting on the Laurel dirt. She produced seven winners of eight to race; the best, and the only juvenile winner, was Proper Gamble (Prospectors Gamble). She won on debut sprinting on the Meadowlands dirt, and went on to become a multiple graded stakes winner at seven furlongs on dirt, and Grade 1-placed at six. Those winners also included Dana Did It (Wagon Limit), a debut winner at age three at six furlongs on grass.
- RHYTHMIA (7/2) - 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. He is looking a useful though not outstanding turf sire so far, with a 10% win rate on turf, 9% first-time on grass. Dam Mystic Rhythms (Citidancer) was precocious; she won second-out, and four of her five career wins came as a juvenile. All her wins came at one turn on dirt. She has been productive in the breeding shed: among twelve starters, eight have won, and among those are three stakes winners and four grass winners. Mystic Soul (Bahri) is the only juvenile winner out of Rhythmia's dam. Mystic Soul won on debut at age two, going a mile on the Belmont grass, and two starts later finished second in the Miesque Stakes (G3), a juvenile turf mile at Hollywood Park. Another half-sister to Rhythmia, Mystic Chant (Unbridled's Song) went on to produce a Grade 1 winner at two turns on grass: Saratoga maven Voodoo Song (English Channel).
- FORT DESOTO (5/1) - This colt is by second-crop sire Fort Larned. Though he did his better work has he got older, seven of his thirty juvenile starters are winners at two, led by Blonde Bomber, a filly who needed five starts to graduate but then followed up her dirt sprint maiden win with a dirt mile stakes win and a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last year. Fort Larned is also striking well on the turf -- of course, the sample size is still small, but so far his progeny are striking at 18% first-time turf and 22% overall on turf. He is the first foal out of Gulf Blvd (Street Sense), like Fort Desoto a Michael Dini trainee during her racing career. She won on debut at age three, sprinting on the Arlington Polytrack, and proved a versatile racemare. She also won a Polytrack route and a dirt sprint during her career, and placed in some turf sprints. Fort Desoto's second dam Sea Pines (Exploit) won as a juvenile at second asking, going seven furlongs on the Laurel dirt, and placed in a pair of extended one-turn races at Laurel before her two-year-old year was out. Gulf Blvd's half-brother Don't Meswit Goldie (Harlan's Holiday) won at third asking at age two, going a mile on turf.
#8 Fort Desoto closed up a lot of ground into the lane on his debut. The experience should help him, and his breeding suggests that the switch to grass should suit him as well. The question is whether he can sit a bit closer than he was last time out, or whether someone else (perhaps Rhythmia, Varykino, English Laughter, or even Hurricane Hank with the blinkers on) may give him some pace at which to run. He has upside, especially given that he hails from a barn that tends to slide under the radar and be live at a price.
#7 Rhythmia is bred well for a route on grass, and gets a stark drop in class from Belmont and Saratoga down to a maiden claimer at Arlington. He could show some speed, stretching out from a sprint, and trainer Dale Bennett often has runners ready to fire when making their first start for his barn.
#2 Hurricane Hank is slightly preferred among the rest, dropping in for a tag for the first time and adding blinkers for trainer Chris Davis.
#1 English Laughter may go off the favourite for strong debut trainer Mike Stidham, but there's enough to oppose him at a short price: he draws the rail for his debut, he is the only one without experience, and even though his pedigree suggests distance and grass, it doesn't suggest precocity.
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