Chicago Racing Review: August 24-27, 2017

Standout Performances

Romantic Attack heads out for her career debut.

Romantic Attack heads out for her career debut.

You’re going to be seeing a lot more of fourth-crop Illinois sire Forest Attack in the next few years; he led all stallions in the state by number of Illinois-breds born in 2015 with 26, and those foals are two now.  His start at stud has been rather slow, but he had his most impressive winner to date when Romantic Attack (Forest Attack – Romantic Reason, by Devil’s Bag) won Thursday’s Arlington 8th.  The juvenile filly, owned by Lois McCrosky, had a tough debut in maiden special weight company on June 11; she broke poorly and trailed all four and a half furlongs over the polytrack.  Thursday, she returned in a five-furlong turf dash against $25,000-$30,000 maiden claimers.  Once again she broke badly, bucking her way out of the gate.  (It wasn’t quite the Thunder Snow Bucking Bronco Show, but a filly can dream?)  Yet, she soon settled, biding her time near the back of the group as Phearless Phyllis and Miss Blue Dot set a contested pace.  It looked a three-horse race going into the final furlong, with Kantastic joining the fray with the top pair, and Romantic Attack still six lengths adrift.  But, the James Childers trainee, with Pedro Cotto in the irons, blew past them in the final furlong like they were standing still.  Further starts will answer the question of class — but the turn of foot she showed first time on grass makes Romantic Attack as promising a prospect as any of her sire’s progeny so far.

Something Kinky shows off her Batmare hood before a start in February at Tampa Bay Downs.

Something Kinky shows off her Batmare hood before a start in February at Tampa Bay Downs.

Something Kinky (Parading – A Kiss Away, by Cozzene) graduated at second asking last summer, and came close against one-other-than company several times before getting a break.  The Michele Boyce trainee, also co-owned by Oak Rock Racing LLC (Margaret Burlingham), returned from a six-month layoff on the Million Day undercard.  She did well in the tough field, a solid fourth in an open allowance-optional behind Gentle Kitten — a finish made even better not just because of the lay, but because she had done so much of her best work on the front end, but did not have the lead that day.  Something Kinky returned to the track in Saturday’s ninth race at Arlington in an Illinois-bred one-other-than turf mile.  The public figured she would take a step forward.  The public was right.  No one could beat the grey mare to the front early, and though an in-form Sing One Song unleashed a good rally late, it was not enough.  Santo Sanjur had given Something Kinky a good ground-saving ride, and she ran on to reach the wire two lengths in front.

From the Claim Box to the Winners’ Circle

On August 17, trainer Scott Becker and owner William Stiritz made a pair of claims that were, by Arlington standards, pricey.

From the fourth race that day, he claimed five-year-old gelding In the Chamber (Fort Prado – Peaceful Battle, by Greenwood Lake) for $16,000.  In the Chamber had been a hot commodity at the claim box last summer.  Though he began that meet bearing the silks of breeder Team Block, he was claimed three different times for $25,000 during the 2016 Arlington meet, landing in the Justin Johns barn from late July on.  He held his own against allowance-quality horses through the rest of the summer and the fall, then took an extended break.  Johns brought him back for a $16,000 tag in a starter-optional on August 17, his first start in ten months.  In the Chamber missed by less than a length to red-hot Gorgeous George — then got a ticket to Scott Becker’s barn clipped to his halter.

Two races later, Becker and Stiritz dropped another slip.  They claimed 2015 Cicero Handicap winner Bold Rally (Fort Prado – Rally Catcher, by Greenwood Lake) for $30,000 out of a salty Illinois-bred allowance-optional that he won.  The six-year-old gelding’s claiming box history was a bit more straightforward than his once and future stablemate’s: he had raced his entire career to that point for Team Block.

Ten days later, he ran both of grey sons of Fort Prado back.  Both provided immediate returns.

In Sunday’s third race, a seven-furlong allowance-optional for Illinois-breds on the polytrack, Bold Rally made his debut for his new barn.  In under the allowance condition, Bold Rally faced a field of five other foes — including Grade 3 winner Shogood, the star of his new barn and the well-defined race favourite.   Shogood set a pressured pace.  Bold Rally broke poorly, and still lagged far off the pace as the field turned for home.  Shogood looked home free into the final furlong, but Bold Rally lived up to his name as well as he ever had.  Under leading rider Jose Valdivia, Jr., he nailed his stablemate in the shadow of the wire, winning by a neck.

Sunday’s nightcap was an Illinois-bred one-other-than, going a mile on the turf.  In the Chamber fit cozily; though he cleared his open N1X last fall, open races do not count against the state-bred condition.  The public figured him well-spotted, sending him off the favourite in a competitive field of seven.  In the Chamber did not disappoint.  Rider Chris Emigh sent him to the lead, and no one could catch him.  He crossed the wire a length and a quarter clear of Memory Bank, who chased him so much of the way around to no avail.

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