It is Independence Day, and Arlington Park is doing both their customary 3:15pm Friday first post as well as their annual Fourth of July fireworks display after the races. Unfortunately Picks and Ponderings does not have the ability to handicap how long the exhibit is going to last or how many pyrotechnics they are going to detonate, but until Arlington offers wagering on that sort of thing, it is probably best that we stick to what we know best: horse racing.
There is a full card of nine races lined up for the afternoon, and Picks and Ponderings will be on site. Make sure to follow @picksponderings on Twitter for live racing updates and paddock observations!
Race 1: $25,000-$20,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, six furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Dream Seeker (4), Bold Visionary (2), Erin Prairie (5)
Dream Seeker looks great for this race on paper. Even though he is a first-time starter, his trainer Wayne Catalano wins with 16% of his first-time starters, and at 21% over the all-weather. He has a long string of works going into this race, dating back to February at Fair Grounds, and many of those works have been strong. The only question is his age: he is five, quite old for a first-time starter; he showed up on the worktab at age four, but never started. This suggests a possible physical issue. He is worth taking an extra close look at in the paddock. If he looks strong, go full steam ahead on this one. Bold Visionary has shown some form on the synthetic, hitting the board in three of six starts over it. He is on a bit of a class rise here. But, he is second off the lay, and if he runs back to some of the form he showed in maiden specials at Turfway over the winter, he will contend here. Strong all-weather jockey Florent Geroux rides, also helping his chances. Erin Prairie moves back to the polytrack; she has only raced once over it, but that race was his best to date, and at the same distance as today’s. He has shown a tendency to prompt the pace, which may help him out given the track’s fondness for early speed.
Race 2: $7,500 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, six furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Hubbala Hubbala (6), Tyne Bridge (4), Jennifer Loves Ed (1)
Hubbala Hubbala comes in off a lay since January, but trainer Michael Stidham hits with 22% of his horses coming in off three-month or longer lays. Her worktab coming into here is decent, especially given the level of the race. James Graham rides, and Stidham and Graham have combined to win 31% of their 32 starts together in the last two months. She also drops in class here from his last start. Tyne Bridge comes in here after losing a duel by just a neck last out at this level. She runs for the Dale Bennett barn, which hits at 28% on the all-weather, and has herself finished second in both attempts on the surface. She has posted a strong three-furlong workout since that last race, suggesting she is still in form today. The biggest drawback to Tyne Bridge is the price: she is 4/5 on the morning line, and it’s hard to take odds-on in low-level claimers. Jennifer Loves Ed runs at this level for the second time after running in higher-level claimers before then. She has usually been well-distanced, but the only time she finished less than ten lengths back was at open maiden $12,500 at this surface and distance — the only time she has done six furlongs on the all-weather. She returns to that here. She is not a great bet to win; Hubbala Hubbala and Tyne Bridge are the only two who look promising for a win, or a leg in a multi-race exotic. However, she could provide some value in lower rungs of exotics, given that she has fared better in this sort of race than in anything else she has tried.
Race 3: Allowance ($37,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $8,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N3L, six furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Solar Flair (5), Sleepy (1), Plunder (3)
Value, thy name is Solar Flair. He drops in class here, after having been in state-bred stakes company his last two times out. He also dials back to six furlongs: a distance at which he has never missed the board. He has shown form on the synthetic, with a first and a second place finish over the surface. He faltered last out in the Springfield Stakes, but his past performances suggest that routes are probably not his thing. Two starts back, he did finish third in the six-furlong Land of Lincoln, behind I Got It All and Easy Solution but still another 7 1/2 lengths ahead of fourth-place Bangthedrumsallday. He runs a stalking style, so he should not get too far behind the pace early. If he stays anywhere near his 8/1 morning line, that’s a great price. Sleepy is a threat to wire this field. He is a speed horse, but his only likely competition on the front end is Prince Cheval: a significantly weaker horse. This is only his fourth career race, but he has won both starts this year by daylight. He breaks from the rail, the same position from which he wired a state-bred N1X allowance last out. He has posted a good workout since that last race, and retains top jockey Florent Geroux, who has ridden him to both wins this meet. He is fast enough to contend with this field, and has done nothing wrong this year. Plunder is not a great choice to win this race, since he is a bit slower than the best of this field and may be pace-compromised here with Sleepy dictating the fractions. However, he consistently gets up for a piece, and is third off the lay here. He also gets back jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr., who has been on the board with him in her three starts aboard him over the last year. Plunder is one to use in lower rungs of exactas and trifectas.
Race 4: $25,000-$20,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, about five furlongs on the turf
Selections: Gentlemans Code (4), Heart Doctor (1), Yankee Injunuity (6)
Here’s your single: Gentlemans Code. He is the speed of the speed, with only the slower (and first-off-the-lay) Pirates Vow to likely even try to fight him for the front end. He has also thrived in his two recent starts on yielding turf. Given the rain Chicago had earlier this week, he is going to get that softer turf again. (And, even if the races are taken off turf, he is 3-2-0-0 on the Arlington poly, suggesting form there.) He ticks up a rung in class from his last out, but has plenty of speed to do well here. Finally, he has the blazing hot combination of trainer Ingrid Mason and jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr. behind him: a combination who has won at a 39% clip over the last two months. Heart Doctor drops in class here, and cuts back to five furlongs. He does like turf dashes; all three career wins have come in these affairs. His stalking style suggests he won’t be too far off the fractions early. He doesn’t have the speed of Gentlemans Code, but it should be no trouble for him to get up for a share. Yankee Injunuity has a lot of back success in turf dashes, but the ten-year-old horse hasn’t actually won a race since June of last year. He still often gets in for a share, particularly at Arlington, and has a second and a third in his last two starts over yielding Arlington turf. Brilliant turf jockey James Graham rides, further bolstering his chances to hit the board again.
Race 5: $15,000-$10,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, Illinois-bred, five and a half furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Elizabeth’s Fever (3), On a Jag (7), Kisses for Jeanne (5)
Elizabeth’s Fever comes in here on the drop from maiden special to maiden claiming for a Chris Block barn that wins at a 20% clip with horses on that drop. She switches to jockey Carlos Marquez, Jr., a jockey with a strong track record with lightly-raced maidens, and who has won 2 of his 9 starts with Block in the last two months. She has posted two good works since her last start. This class drop looks like exactly what she needs. On a Jag is another Block trainee. This is only her second race, and her dam has produced four winners in six starterd. Her first race was not bad: she finished third at this level last out, at a six-furlong distance. She posted a fairly strong work since that start. Kisses for Jeanne is another second-time starter, this one from the barn of Larry Rivelli. Rivelli wins maiden claimers at an astounding 33% clip. Kisses for Jeanne failed as the favourite at open maiden $25,000 last time when Fayreen ran a big one out of nowhere, but makes a significant class drop here. She will probably be chalk because of all of these factors, but for those same reasons she must be used in top rungs and multi-races.
Race 6: Allowance ($34,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $8,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, seven furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Enjoy the Family (6), Frabster (1), Spring Again (8)
Frabster is the one to beat on paper, and Enjoy The Family looks like the one with the best shot to spring the upset. The lightly-raced filly comes in here with just a maiden win at Ellis to her name, and off a ten-month lay. However, trainer Tom Proctor wins at a 21% rate with horses off lays of over three months, and she has a two-month sequence of strong workouts leading into this race. She came from a handful of lengths off the pace in her maiden win — a style that will suit her very well here given all the early speed horses in this race. Enjoy the Family is the value here. Frabster is the chalk, but deservingly so. In nine career races, she has never been off the board, including a 6-2-3-1 record on the Arlington polytrack. Her form has been very strong this year, and she comes in here off the Isaac Murphy Handicap, where she crossed the wire first, though was disqualified to third after jockey Tim Thornton cut off Scarlet Power in the stretch. Her speed is good, and she can rate if she needs. The ability to rate is a huge plus for her here, since there are a lot of horses in this race who like being up front early. Spring Again comes in here third off the lay. She faltered last out against tougher at Churchill, but has posted a good workout since, and returns to the synthetic here. Her one career win was over the Keeneland poly, and she also has a third at Del Mar to her name. If she runs back to the speed she showed in previous races, she can threaten here.
One in this field who deserves a particular mention is Lewderhoo. She is very consistent…at coming in second or third. She does step up to open allowance company here, but tends to be in the mix (though usually not quite get all the way there) no matter what level she is racing at. She usually comes in from off the pace, though may show a bit more speed this time out with blinkers on. With strong polytrack jockey Florent Geroux riding, Lewderhoo should be used for value in lower rungs of exotics.
Race 7: $5,000 starter allowance, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $5,000 or less since July 4, 2012, about one mile on the turf
Selections: Suspended Moon (1), Dontbetellinme (4), Paschendale (6)
There is a ton of early speed in this race early: out of eight horses in the race, five of them usually want to be on or very, very near the early pace. This should set up perfectly for closer Suspended Moon. She comes in here third off the lay, and has a first and a second in her last two starts at this level. Last out, she was second at this level, and ran on yielding turf: suggesting she can keep her form if the turf is softer today. She cuts back to a mile, the distance at which she won two starts back, and has speeds that stack up well for the group. She is the one to beat. Dontbetellinme is another one of the few in this race who can come from off the pace, though she usually comes from a few back instead of being a stone closer. She was recently claimed into a new barn for trainer Gary Monbarren, who is a bit of a wild card since he hasn’t started a horse since January of 2008 at Beulah. However, she has posted a respectable work since the claim, and has three wins over the Arlington turf. She likes this course, and the pace will give her a good chance to get back in the winner’s circle. Paschendale comes in here second off the lay for trainer Tammy Domenosky. She missed by just a neck at this level and distance last out, having been nabbed at the wire by Suspended Moon. She has seen success on the front, but also showed in that last out that she can come from off the pace and do well — a versatility that will help her in this race. If she tries that style again instead of going for the front, she has a good chance here. She is also a horse for the Arlington turf course, being 5-2-2-0 lifetime over it.
Race 8: Allowance ($36,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, Illinois-bred, non-winners of $8,800 once other than maiden, claiming, or starter OR N2L, about one mile on the turf
Selections: Love You Mon (2), Coco Mon (6), Brim (1A)
Love You Mon has been showing improved recent form. The light has finally gone on in this five-year-old’s head this year, and at 5-2-1-0 over the Arlington turf, he is showing himself to be a horse for the course. He moves up to this race from $25,000 beaten claiming company last out, but has won his last two races, both at this distance on turf. There is a lot of early speed in this race, so if he chases and charges from midpack as he did his last two times out, that style will suit him well here. Coco Mon, the other Monarchos gelding in the field, is another horse showing improved recent form. He enters the race third off the winter lay, and has made respectable showings in his last two starts. Last out he finished third just ¾ lengths behind Big Tom Prado, who is now under consideration for the American Derby (GIII). He broke his maiden on yielding turf and has finished on the board on good turf his last two starts; the recent rain should make the surface more to his liking. Brim comes in here third off the lay. His speed stacks up well for the field, and he his working well coming into this start. He went off as the favourite last out at this level, likely for similar reasons, and faltered. He will likely go off as the favourite or close to it again, but pass on this one to win. The best way to use Brim is in lower rungs of exactas and trifectas. He has many close calls in state-bred turf allowances between a mile and 1 ⅛ miles, but has not actually won a race since November of 2012. He has just two wins in thirty starts — but five seconds and five thirds. Brim is a classic lower rung.
Race 9: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of a race since January 4, 2014 OR N4L, six furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Mighty Hutch (6), Jost Van Dyke (4), What Do You Mean (7)
Mighty Hutch comes into here on the N4L condition, and his recent form is the best of his career: he has won two straight at this distance on the Arlington poly, against $7,500 N2L and N3L company. After being rather spotty on the Hawthorne dirt through the winter, he has found his form on the Arlington polytrack. He also has all three of his career wins at this six-furlong distance. His speed is good for this field, and his stalking style will keep him out of any speed duel that may ensue. Jost Van Dyke is the fastest of the bunch, assuming he is the same horse he was last year. He hasn’t raced since December, but trainer Dale Bennett wins at a 28% rate with horses coming off a three-month lay or longer, and the works Jost Van Dyke has posted since his lay have been good given the level. This is also a class drop; he last raced at the $25,000 level, and his trainer wins at a 39% rate on these large (two rungs or more) class drops. Finally, the pace should help him; he is a closer, and there look to be enough horses who want to be on the front end that it could easily set up for him to mow them down late. What Do You Mean will be one of the horses near the front end, but unlike horses like Gamblin Jack or Viola George, he has seen some success rating if he is not the first horse to get his head in front. His speeds are decent for the field, and he has shown form both at the six-furlong distance as well as on the Arlington all-weather. Jockey Florent Geroux, sharp both on the synthetic and with front-end style horses, rides here. If someone near the early pace wins, it will likely be What Do You Mean.
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