The fourth race on Thursday at Arlington Park is a maiden special weight for juvenile fillies, going a mile on the grass. As with so many two-year-old maiden races this time of year, it features a mix of first-time starters and more experienced types: in the field of eight, five have run and three have not.
Though looking at race-day behaviour is always wise when playing two-year-old races, it is of particular importance to watch the behaviour of Kate's Cat. She was entered to debut in a polytrack sprint on August 17, but was scratched after getting loose before the race.
There is a pair of uncoupled entries to watch, as well.
Trainer Mike Stidham sends out two horses, for two different owners: Queen of Country for Godolphin Racing, and Rainbow Warrior for Dare to Dream Stable. Stidham's usual "A" rider takes the call on Queen of Country.
Owner Lothenbach Stables has two, each hailing from a different shedrow. Trainer Chris Block has Appealing Audrey. Trainer Neil Pessin has debut runner Elle's Town. It's worth noting that Pessin, who had been 0 for his last 24 first-time starters, blew up the tote to the tune of $67.80 on Saturday with Lothenbach-owned first-time starter Bell's The One.
Edited Thursday, September 6th to account for the race being taken off turf.
- SAMI'S CAR (10/1) - This filly starts for the fifth time, and Picks and Ponderings discussed her pedigree before her race on August 16. Her race record suggests that turf suits her better than polytrack, and she is well-bred for two turns on grass.
- SENORITA TAPIT (6/1) - She has five starts behind her already, and her pedigree was discussed before her August 16 start. The daughter of Lookin At Lucky has little to go on in recent generations, but her third dam did produce some precocious and classy foals who liked two turns on grass.
- QUEEN OF COUNTRY (3/1) - This Godolphin homebred filly is by their stallion Medaglia d'Oro, whose foals win at 14% on the grass and at 11% when making their first run over the lawn. His juvenile strike rate is modest, with 173 of his 544 juvenile starters to have won. Though, longer races have tended to suit his juveniles, as evidenced by his 7.14 furlong average winning distance for northern hemisphere juveniles. Dam Kotuku (A. P. Indy) has been hit-or-miss in the stud barn, with five starters but only two winners. Kotuku's best foal to date is a full to Queen of Country -- Bay of Plenty, who did not start at two, won at third asking at age three (going a mile and a sixteenth over the late, great Aqueduct inner dirt), and was a stakes winner and graded stakes place at a mile and an eighth on dirt. Kotuku's other winner was more precocious: Fortify (Distorted Humor) won a dirt sprint on debut at two, and went on to hit the board in the seven-furlong Hopeful (G2) and the one-mile Champagne (G1). Second dam Flagbird (Nureyev) won her juvenile debut at a mile over the Deauville grass. She went on to produce Anasheed (A. P. Indy), a winner over the Arlington dirt in his third start at age two, who followed that maiden win up with a second-place finish in the 2002 Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3).
- ELLE'S TOWN (4/1) - This filly is Speightstown, a strong 16% first-out sire, though Speightstown's progeny have tended to show stronger form at three and above, not two. A mile is on the long side for many of his get, both at two and beyond, though enough stamina on bottom has brought him a few graded stakes winning turf routers like Frostmourne (a debut 1 1/16-mile grass winner as a juvenile) and Force the Pass (unraced at two, but a seven-and-a-half-furlong maiden winner in his second start at three). Elle's Town is the first starter out of Irish Presence (Midnight Lute). Irish Presence wasn't particularly precocious, with just one placing in four starts at two. She ended up being versatile as to surface and distance; she won twice in sprints over the Tapeta at Golden Gate, but was also a minor stakes winner and Grade 3-placed routing on dirt. Elle's Town's second dam, Proper Form (Deputy Minister), produced a whopping seven juvenile winners, though only one got her diploma first-out. Mrs Petoski (Orientate) won her juvenile debut in a six-furlong polytrack sprint at Turfway. The juvenile winners out of Proper Form won in all sorts of races: sprints and routes, over dirt, turf, and synthetic footings.
- APPEALING AUDREY (7/2) - This second-time starter is 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. This filly's dam, Appealing Storm (Valid Appeal), is a proven producer. She has eight winners among twelve foals to start, and seven of those winners have prevailed on grass. It's a family well known to followers of Chicago racing -- she has produced a few win-early types, and a lot of class. Appealing Audrey is a full sister to multiple graded stakes placed Captivating Moon (who runs Saturday in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs), a debut winner at a mile on grass. This filly is half to Nobody's Fault (Blame), a stakes-winning turf dasher who won her juvenile debut at a mile on turf; she is also half to Vacare (Lear Fan), winner on debut at age three going a mile and a sixteenth on grass, and who went on to win the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.. She also produced Abtaal (Rock Hard Ten), a second-out winner at age two going seven furlongs on grass. Though the family screams turf, there have been some polytrack winners as well: Appealing Audrey's half-sister Single Solution (Flatter) graduated at two turns on the Arlington poly, and No Fault Of Mine (Single Solution's daughter by Blame) also graduated on the footing. And, third in No Fault of Mine's maiden win? Another half-sister to Appealing Audrey, Madison Mayhem (Distorted Humor).
- RAINBOW WARRIOR (6/1) - This filly made her debut on August 16, and we discussed her breeding before that race. Her dam is half to a pair of two-year-old stakes winners, including one on grass, and she is by first-crop sire Verrazano, who showed turf mile talent.
- KATE'S CAT (30/1) - Even though this will be Kate's Cat's first race (assuming she behaves), we looked at her pedigree already when she was entered to race August 17. The underneath side of her pedigree is slanted toward sprinting. She is the first runner for sire Guest Star, who succeeded at a mile on the turf, though he wasn't particularly precocious.
- VASILISA (9/2) - SCRATCHED - This filly makes her third career start, her second on grass, and we looked at her pedigree before her August 16 race. A turf route should suit well, as she is a full sister to a pair of two-turn grass horses. One of those is Golden Dragon, a juvenile turf mile winner last year. The other is Vasilika -- winner of the John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar this past Saturday.
#5 Appealing Audrey makes her second start. Her breeding suits the distance, and though so much of the family's form has come on grass, the family has acquitted itself well on polytrack when forced to run there. With a better start she can be involved sooner instead of rallying from the clouds. She had been working regularly since that outing, and should be ready to make good account.
The move to polytrack makes #4 Elle's Town worth a long look. The family has been versatile as to surface, including form over multiple kinds of synthetic surfaces. A mile and a sixteenth may be about the longest she wants to go based on her pedigree, but with two-year-old winners on the dam side who have prevailed at a route of ground, she gets the benefit of the doubt. The connections are also a positive, as Sophie Doyle is a strong rider, and trainer Neil Pessin had a debut surprise for Elle's Town's owners last week.
#3 Queen of Country also has appeal. The gap in works through most of July is a question, but the tab through August and into September is consistent. The distance should suit her breeding well, and she is half to a juvenile debut winner.
#1 Sami's Car intrigued on the turf, but has raced enough on polytrack to suggest it isn't her surface. With the removal to the polytrack, we'll wait to see her come back to the grass.
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