The Arlington racing season is winding down. The Illinois Owners Stakes, a frequent fixture this time of year, is not to be. However, the season is not over yet: racing continues through Sunday, September 28. There is still a full card of racing at Arlington today, and Picks and Ponderings is there. Maidens take the spotlight, as five of the nine races on the day are maiden claimers. The feature race is also the nightcap, an open N1X allowance for the filly and mare set.
Race 1: $15,000-$10,000 maiden claiming, two-year-old fillies, Illinois-bred, five and a half furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Ally’s Dream (4), Fort Suprise (5), Break In (3)
Ally’s Dream, ridden by James Graham, is a first-time starter from the barn of Hugh Robertson. Robertson is nine for his last 27 with a +2.38 ROI with first-time starters. Ally’s Dream is a full sister to Anna’s Alibi, being by Three Hour Nap out of She’s Wild. Anna’s Alibi won first out. Ally’s Dream has works stretching back to July, and her last few have been five furlongs, suggesting she is getting fit. At this level it makes sense to go with a promising first-time starter, and Ally’s Dream (4) is that. Fort Suprise (5) has only race once, a faltering attempt in maiden special. She drops for a tag here, and there’s enough here to take a chance on her as long as she is not bet down to chalk. Trainer Terry Young has been strong dropping horses from maiden special to maiden claiming, and jockey Maria Thornton has shown a strong propensity for riding well on maidens. With some experience from having raced once, she should be better here. Finally, Break In (3) drops in from $35,000 open maiden claiming. She performed an okay fourth last out, but lost ground late. Here she cuts back from a mile to five and a half furlongs. She also gets a change from E. T. Baird to Channing Hill. Though Baird is trainer Larry Rivelli’s go-to jockey, it seems Baird’s style may not quite mesh with Break In. The jockey change combined with the class drop may be what she needs to get it done, especially since there is precedent for her family to win at two: half-sister Zibby Do won at two, in her fourth start. Break In succeeding here, in her third start, is not out of the question.
Race 2: $62,500 maiden claiming, two-year-olds, about one mile on the turf
Selections: Alltheleavesrbrown (3), Mostly Mozart (1), El Junior (5)
Alltheleavesrbrown is a nigh-on single-worthy top selection. He drops in for a tag for the first time, after two on-the-board finishes in open maiden special. First time he ran into Ike Walker; second out, Nun the Less. It would seem a red flag for a trainer to drop a horse into claiming company, except for the fact that Stidham has done this before: he trains One Go All Go, who broke his maiden at this level and then came back to be a good third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII). This is also Alltheleavesrbrown’s first try at turf, but he has a lot going for him for grass: both sire Big Brown and damsire Royal Academy have double-digit first time turf win rates, he is half to a turf winner, and turf star James Graham rides. Mostly Mozart finished fifth at this level, beaten 8 3/4 lengths. Still, he was only 3 1/2 lengths out of second; the aforementioned One Go All Go ran away with that race. It is his first try on the grass as well as a stretch-out, but the fact that he is out of a Dynaformer mare suggests he will handle both. El Junior finally get the drop into maiden claiming after four underwhelming attempts in special weight. Trainer Armando De la Cerda’s horses tend to run well when dropping into maiden claiming, and he also tries a rider change to Santo Sanjur. As long as the turf is not yielding, he is worth a shot at least in under-rungs of intra-race exotics against this weaker company.
Race 3: $12,500-$10,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles on the synthetic
Selections: Four Leaf Fete (2), Revelation Bowl (4), Run for Mummy (3)
Four Leaf Fete comes in here second off a layoff, and had his best race to date last out. Even after getting caught six-wide, he still crossed the wire a gaining third (though was elevated to second after a disqualification). He returns to the same class level, distance and surface here, and keeps jockey Constantino Roman. If he improves at all second off the layoff, he will be tough for this ragtag bunch to beat. Revelation Bowl was second at this level two starts back. Last out he ran into a troubled trip, wide through the turns and then impeded by That’s a Kitten in the stretch so badly that That’s a Kitten was disqualified from second to fifth. He switches back to rider Israel Ocampo, who rode him two back; with his improving form compared to previous races, he has a chance if he can get a decent trip. Run for Mummy is a first-time starter, and a paddock play. The worktab is not fast, but he has at least been publishing works long enough to suggest he is probably fit to race. His trainer, Pavel Vashchenko, has a 16% win rate but a +$3.42 ROI with first-time starters. If he looks alert and fit in the paddock, and he does not drift from his 5/1 morning line down to something chalky, he merits consideration.
Race 4: $7,500 claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, N2L, seven furlongs on the synthetic
Selections: Golden Annie (7), Cindy’s Uproar (8), Tyne Bridge (3)
Golden Annie cuts back from a mile to seven furlongs, and was second in her only previous attempt at the distance. Though she has not won on the polytrack yet, she has been on the board in all three career attempts over it, between Arlington and Keeneland. Pacewise, she is fairly versatile: helpful, given the likely balanced pace scenario. Maria Thornton rides: she gives Golden Annie a seven-pound weight break. Cindy’s Uproar drops in here from recent runs in $16,000 and $25,000 company, racing for the lowest tag in her career. She stretches out from five furlongs to seven, which should help: as well as she has done at a mile and a mile and a sixteenth, five furlongs is probably just too short. She did put up a very decent third, beaten just half a length, in the one-turn mile at Arlington earlier this meet. She races for the team of jockey Ingrid Mason and jockey Julio Felix; even though the Mason barn has not been as hot lately as they were earlier in the meet, they still tend to place their horses well, and this class drop looks like exactly what Cindy’s Uproar needs. Tyne Bridge looks the most likely speed of the speed; if no one else sends, she may steal it. She does her best work on the polytrack, and keeps regular jockey Chris Emigh. Though her maiden win came at six furlongs, she has been on the board in two of her three races at seven furlongs. If she rebounds from last out, it could be her day.
Race 5: $25,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L OR three years old, about 1 1/16 miles on the turf
Selections: Divine Delivery (1), Travel Required (2), Rope a Dope (4)
Divine Delivery drew the rail, and his eighteen-length maiden victory in the spring at Hawthorne proved that he can run well from the inner gate. He drops in here from trying allowance company last out, and won at this level two back. Even if he doesn’t get the early lead (possible, if Travel Required decides to bolt to the front instead), he proved in his win two back that he can rate just off and do well. The only question will be if the rain comes in before this race: his race on firm turf was far better than his attempt over yielding. Travel Required has pace versatility: he can show early speed, hang back early, or stalk somewhere in between. He comes from a Michele Boyce barn that wins at 20% on the grass, and keeps jockey Santo Sanjur, who has ridden him well his last two times out. He stretches back out to a mile and a sixteenth here, a distance at which he was third beaten just a neck by Divine Delivery two starts back. Rope a Dope comes in here on a precipitous class drop. He beat $50,000 optional claiming company two starts back, too a break for about two months, and then faltered badly in a washed-off $80,000 optional claimer last out. If this race stays on the grass, he has a good shot: Rope a Dope is three-for-four, with the only grass loss being in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes behind the lieks of Storming Inti, We Miss Artie, and Cabo Cat. If the rain comes early and it is washed to poly, however, pass on Rope a Dope.
Race 6: $50,000-$40,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, five and a half furlongs on the turf
Selections: Silver Liner (4), Out In Front (6), Lorelei True (2)
Silver Liner (4) is the top selection. This three-year-old filly finished a close third over yielding turf against $80,000 company last out, firing with a good closing run. With the rain in the forecast for tomorrow, there’s a good chance she will get that again. Even if she does not, she did show last out that she can run well at short distances. She adds blinkers, suggesting she will be a bit closer to the pace than last out; this should help at a dash distance. Her trainer, Chris Block, is very live with blinkers on: seven of his last 21 won, with 14 of his last 21 in the money with that move. Eduardo Perez is one of Block’s longtime go-to jockeys; they have a slightly positive return over the last two months, and got another maiden home on Thursday. Out In Front (6) also drops from $80,000 maiden company over yielding turf last out, and she was second beaten just a head in that effort. It looked like she truly missed catching Bubuzela, as opposed to hanging and not wanting to catch her. This is the lowest level of her career, and she had enough speed to succeed. Finally, Lorelei True (2) drops back into maiden claiming company after trying maiden special in her last two outings. Her polytrack runs have been better than her grass runs, but she had a troubled start in her only attempt at a turf dash. On the class drop, it’s worth taking one more chance on her on grass, between the fact that she should be a price and the fact that she is bred so well for turf: by Unbridled’s Song out of a Storm Cat mare.
Comet Sixty Two deserves a brief mention. This filly is, on paper, probably the best in the race. She was second last out at special weight level behind a very fit Hike, and finished just half a length behind Helen Kathleen three back. However, she has been second six times in nine starts. She has had several chances to prove she actually wants to win a horse race, and it’s not worth taking what will likely be the shortest price in the field on a filly who doesn’t want to win.
Race 7: $16,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, N3L OR three years old, one mile on the synthetic
Selections: Road Trippn (7), Heart Stopper (6), U Step Aside (1)
Road Trippn is ticking up in class here, having cleared the N2L condition at the $16,000 level last out. He did that from a speedy place, but has also ran well from off the pace: giving him some versatility, helpful given the open question of who will send to the front with Maelstrom. The polytrack is certainly his best surface: he has two wins in eighteen starts, but both of them have come from his four starts over polytrack. Jockey James Graham, far and away the best route jockey in the colony, rides. He is also two for his last seven with trainer Steve Manley, and has been in the money with four of his last seven starters with Manley. Heart Stopper drops in here from allowance company, and will race for the lowest tag of his career. This looks like a classic attempt at a confidence builder: he won a state-bred N1X in July, but has struggled in two starts since in open N1X and state-bred N2X. He can either set the early fractions or stalk fairly close to the front, and he has won route races on pressured leads before. U Step Aside has not won a race since July of 2012, but does his better work on polytrack, and in routes. He has not run a route race yet in three starts this year, and should improve now that he is stretching out to a better distance. Trainer Michele Boyce has seen success with the sprint-sprint-route pattern, winning two of her last five, in the money with two more, and returning a +$4.48 ROI in those starts. The long win drought is worrisome, but he ought to at least hit the board.
Race 8: $25,000-$20,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, about one mile on the turf
Selections: Zack’s Billie (3), Officer Fred (6), Moncor (4)
Zack’s Billie showed a marked improvement last out when trying the grass for the first time. That was a seven and a half furlong race at Canterbury, and here he stretches out to a mile. If Gata Yot and Squidalem send early, or any of the other horses decide to experiement on the front end, Zack’s Billie could again make a closing run, and may end up with all the marbles. Jockey James Graham rides today, further bolstering his chances in this turf route. Officer Fred comes back from a close third-place finish at this level last out, and cuts back from a mile and a sixteenth. He has tried the grass twice in his four starts; though his last run on the grass was disappointing, he finished a decent third in his career debut over good turf. Since there is likely to be some give in the grass today, this is a good sign. He has a long, good work since his last race, and his only half-sibling to race did win on grass. Moncor takes a class drop from his last race, a rather ambitious attempt at $50,000 company first off the claim by Eduardo Rodriguez. He returns to more reasonable $25,ooo company today, and his trainer wins at 20% second off the claim. He was a good third three starts back in a turf mile, and his breeding (by Corinthians out of a Chester House mare) suggests a mile on the grass could be his bag. He is getting to the point where he may be well served trying something different soon if he does not win today, but he is worth giving one more chance at this level, given the trainer change.
Race 9: Allowance ($31,000 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, about 1 1/16 miles on the turf
Selections: Rosie My Rosie (3), Kashami (5), Compelling Case (2)
There is a veritable cornucopia of early speed in this race: Lady Moscow and Trevi Chic are clear-cut lead types, and Solitary Life, Lovely Loyree, and Blue Jean Baby have shown some affinity for it, too. The race will set up well for someone who comes in from off the pace. Rosie My Rosie does her best work from a few lengths back, suggesting she will stay out of any duel that ensues, and her speeds fit right in with this field. She also has the blazing hot connections of owner William Stiritz and trainer Scott Becker behind her. Though they are best known as the kings of Fairmount Park, they have been winning frequently at Arlington lately. Becker and jockey Chris Emigh are hitting at 34% over the last two months. The biggest drawback to Rosie My Rosie is the fact that she has not yet won on turf: still, two of her half-siblings have, and she did finish second beaten just a nose at this distance on grass three starts back. For the likely price on her (she is 12/1 on the morning line), there is more than enough going for her. Kashami comes into this race after breaking her maiden last out, and trainer Wayne Catalano wins 20% of the time with last-out maiden winners. The maiden win was at the same distance as this allowance today, over yielding turf. Even if the rain holds off and the turf is firmer, she had a good run over firmer going three starts back at Churchill. Kashami looked good in her maiden win, taking it from near the back of the pack early, and has a chance to strike here while the iron is hot. Compelling Case steps up here from $50,000 claiming company, in which she won last out. That race was a washoff from turf to poly, but the does have an 8-1-4-2 record on grass: clearly, some turf talent. She is another midpack to closing type who has more than enough speed to take late advantage of the multiple can’t-rate types in this field. She runs for the Chris Block barn, who hits at 23% in allowance races, and 21% with last-race winners.
One horse worth taking a swing against here is Lovely Loyree. The 7/2 second choice on the morning line, she drops in class here from the Hatoof Stakes last out. Though she has beaten older in state-bred allowance company twice, the Hatoof was such a big effort from her that she looks primed to bounce. She also tends to be close to the lead in her better races: a liability given the pace scenario.
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