In its first incarnation in dirt (shelved from 1991-95, 1998-99), the Arlington Sprint would be almost always at six furlongs. Notable dirt winners would include millionaire Grade 3 winner Bet On Sunshine, who won this race three times. The first incarnation of this race ended in 2006, the last year of the main dirt oval.
For one year, 2007, the Arlington Sprint was moved to polytrack. That year’s result saw a dead heat between Piratesonthelake and In Summation; the latter of which had won the G1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar a month prior.
From 2008 on, the Arlington Sprint has found a new home on the grass at five and one-half furlongs. Graded winners like Chamberlain Bridge and Havelock can count themselves as Arlington Sprint winners, and have helped this race do done well in its third incarnation. SAINT LEON (photo at left) seeks in this year’s running to join Bet on Sunshine as a three-time winner of the Arlington Sprint.
We remind that selections below are for “turf only”, and the rail at publish time will be set to Lane 5, sixty-two feet from the zero position.
Arlington International — Arlington Sprint — 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf — post time 4:30 pm CT
After they’ve cleaned up from a night of Independence Day fireworks, they’ll wheel back for the feature on the Saturday July 5 card. It looks to once again through SAINT LEON, who could be lone speed on the front end if jockey E. T. Baird can scoot clear on the lead. He gets back to turf after two tries on the all weather, finishing second to Hogy (a G3 winner) and Bet Seattle (a small stakes winner). You have to respect a two-time winner of this exact race over the course, and you could forgive the ships to Ellis and Kentucky Downs on a horse who perhaps can’t take his course with him. However, this is his course and he also meets a field that is not as strong as last year and goes for a purse of only seventy five grand. POSITIVE SIDE has the most recent best class of the field, having hit the podium in both the G3 Shakertown and the G3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint. He also chased around quality sprinter Gantry this winter in New Orleans. Last time was a clunker in the Jaipur, but POSITIVE SIDE appears a trip-dependent closer that is going to need some pace help. Winning isn’t his specialty, as he last got a win eleven months ago at Indiana Grand nee Indiana Downs. SAINT LEON provides that upfront pace for sure, the question is if he can get up. He’s been facing tougher and won’t get to chase graded types around. You might remember LIZ PENDENS from last year in the Hatoof Stakes as one of the pace-dictating fillies. Trainer Mike Stidham found something new with LIZ PENDENS when two back she closed to win a turf sprint at Keeneland. She was taken to New York for a six-figure stakes there, and was fifth but part of a close finish in that event at a longer distance. Cuts back to five and a half in the Arlington Sprint and will also, get a gender-related weight break. Rider Carlos Marquez, Jr. is quietly having a top-ten season in his return to Chicago and her inside draw may he helpful as well with the rail at Lane 5.
#5 SAINT LEON (2/1)
#6 POSITIVE SIDE (5/2)
#1 LIZ PENDENS (8/1)
Longshot: #4 LAW DOG (20/1) comes into an Arlington Sprint that doesn’t have the tigers it did last year. There’s no Hogy that won the G3 Hanshin Cup, no Chamberlain Bridge. Only SAINT LEON stands in his way, and the argument could be made that the favorite at age nine is getting long in the tooth. Perhaps LAW DOG, winner of back-to-back claimers on the Churchill turf on the front end, can out break SAINT LEON or get a cozy trip. He’s got four career wins, but they have all come in similar turf sprints such as these. Trainer Tammy Domenosky often works the claiming game and is a shrewd assessor of equine stock. And if she figures this Arlington Sprint is worth taking a chance on, so do we.
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