2017 Arlington-Washington Futurity Day Stakes Preview

No Flowers bears Avers Wexler's silks in a race on May 31, 2015. Saturday, Arlington runs a stakes in Wexler's memory.

No Flowers bears Avers Wexler’s silks in a race on May 31, 2015. Saturday, Arlington runs a stakes in Wexler’s memory.

Saturday’s ten-race card at Arlington features a trio of stakes races; this piece takes a look at all of them.  As planned all meet, the card features a pair of $75,000 listed stakes for two-year-olds: the Arlington-Washington Futurity and the Arlington-Washington Lassie.  Both of the races drew well-subscribed fields of two-year-olds: ten males in the Futurity, and a full gate of fourteen fillies for the Lassie.  A late addition to Saturday’s card is the Avers Wexler Memorial Stakes, an overnight stakes race for older fillies and mares, traversing two turns on the main track at Arlington.  Despite the short notice, the race drew a healthy field of nine to compete for the $65,000 purse.

Morning lines were not available at the original publish time. Updated September 9 to include morning lines, and account for scratches.

Race 6: Avers Wexler Memorial Stakes, fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, one and one sixteenth miles on the polytrack, post time 4:05pm CDT

This race is run in memory Avers Wexler, who passed away in February of this year.  In his business life, he formed Weather Tamer and later Winning Moves, both manufacturers of cold weather wear for children.  Outside the apparel industry, Wexler owned Thoroughbreds.  This is not the first time that a stakes had been run in Wexler’s name at Arlington.  In 2006, Arlington Park ran the Avers Wexler Illinois Owners Stakes, a turf route for older horses with ownership based in the state — and Wexler had an interest in No Tolerance, who finished second behind heavily favoured Purim that day.  No Tolerance won a Grade 3 later that year, the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne.  Kid Grindstone, a Wexler horse who scratched from that previous stakes run in his name, was also a graded stakes winner.  He upset the Fifth Season Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn in April 2006.

Trainer Larry Rivelli entered a pair of speedsters in this race, DADDY’S BOO and MOMS CHOICE; he scratched DADDY’S BOO and kept MOMS CHOICE.  MOMS CHOICE figures both on Rivelli’s choice to keep her in and the fact that she has run some very strong races over the polytrack.  Speed has been holding particularly well on the Arlington main these last few days (yes, even better than usual…), and MOMS CHOICE at her best is the speed of the speed.  Still, her inconsistency is a little scary, and unlike DADDY’S BOO, she isn’t quite the lock to clear MUNDY ROAD early.  If there is a logical alternative to this likely favourite, it makes sense to look there.

PRINCESS ERINDELLE is that logical alternative.  She came close to beating DADDY’S BOO three back on the polytrack, in her first and only try over the surface.  After two disappointing tilts at Canterbury, the daughter of Divine Park turns back up at Arlington.  It is interesting to see Jose Valdivia, Jr. have the mount — he is DADDY’S BOO’s usual rider, and also has one mount at Kentucky Downs on Saturday.  (He has far more than one at Arlington on Saturday, including Captivating Moon in the Lassie, so expect him to stay in Chicago.)  The stretch back out to a mile and a sixteenth should help PRINCESS ERINDELLE, she has proven she can hang close to DADDY’S BOO (a better horse than anything , and off that two-back race she seems the favourite’s most credible foe.

Trainer Eric Reed ships two here, SKYLUCK and MAJESTIC ANGEL.  With form lines in Ohio and West Virginia, both have class to prove here, but both have run races that could get a piece here, and both draw sharp local jockeys.  Between the two, this space prefers the more consistent: MAJESTIC ANGEL.  She cuts back from a mile and an eighth to a mile and a sixteenth here, and her career record at this distance has been good: a win and a second in two tries.  MAJESTIC ANGEL is an off-pace horse who does not need a total collapse to run well, and Carlos Marquez should be able to used his judgment and carve out a trip.  If MAJESTIC ANGEL can handle Arlington’s polytrack, she at least has a claim for a share at fair odds.



#9 MOMS CHOICE (5/1)


Longshot: #8 MUNDY ROAD (12/1) faces winners for the first time, but there are reasons that she could acquit herself well in this ambitious spot.  That maiden win came in her ninth career start — but her first try over the Arlington polytrack.  Though that came on the front end, her back races show that she can keep interest from off the pace and make a rally.  The scratch of DADDY’S BOO helps her — if MOMS CHOICE has one of her off races, she may get the lead, and if not, perhaps she gets first run.  And, her speeds in her last three races are not far off from what she needs to hold her own against her foes here.  Grant Forster has been shrewd with his Arlington shippers this meet, with two wins out of six starters, and is probably not shipping this daughter of Lonhro out here just so he can have another bucket of the famous Arlington Park popcorn.

Race 7: Arlington-Washington Futurity, two-year-olds, seven furlongs on the polytrack, post time 4:35pm CDT

The Arlington-Washington Futurity began its life as the American National Futurity in 1927 and 1928.  Reborn in 1932 and rechristened the Arlington Futurity, its name added the nod to Washington Park in 1962.  A Grade I from when races were first assigned grades in 1973 through 1989, it held a Grade 3 designation from 2002 through last year, and was downgraded to a listed stakes as of 2017.  Run at distances between six furlongs and a mile, it has been run at its current seven-furlong distance since 2014.  Despite its recent downgrade, the history of the Arlington-Washington Futurity is illustrious.  The most recent winner of the Arlington-Washington Futurity to win the race en route to a championship was Gilded Time (1992): already a winner of the Sapling (GII) before coming to Arlington, and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) in his next start.  Earlier in its history, the race’s winners list is rich with eventual champion juveniles: Honest Pleasure (1975), Silent Screen (1969), Vitriolic (1967), Buckpasser (1965), Ridan (1961), Hasty Road (1953), and Ladysman (1932).

In the polytrack era, all but two winners of the Arlington-Washington Futurity had run on polytrack before winning the Arlington-Washington Futurity.  Only two hadn’t: Terrain (2008) and Shared Property (2009).  Other than the two who broke their maidens in the race (Major Gain in 2010 and Solitary Ranger in 2013), all of the others had broken their maiden on the Arlington main track.  Major Gain finished second on debut on the Arlington main; Solitary Ranger had finished second twice on the Keeneland polytrack in April.  In short?  If you’re looking for winners in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, look to the polytrack.  There aren’t many coming into this race who have run on polytrack — just three of the ten — but one stands out.

TAKE CHARGE DUDE debuted in the opener on Million Day, stalked the pace, and fought gamely to win a head bob.  Since then, he has posted a bullet five-furlong drill in preparation for this race.  His running style should suit the race well — forward, but no need to get right on the front.  TAKE CHARGE DUDE should also find seven furlongs within his abilities: the only other runner out of his dam has won going six and a half, and his sire Take Charge Indy finished second in the 2012 Arlington-Washington Futurity (albeit when it was a one-turn mile).  This race will be a class test, but with proven grit and the advantage of a strong race over the polytrack at Arlington, TAKE CHARGE DUDE stands poised to defend his back yard well.

One of the more impressive juvenile maiden winners this Arlington meet — albeit going a mile on the grass — has been CAPTIVATING MOON.  The cut back to seven furlongs is a question, as his breeding suggests that route distances should suit him best.  But, his late kick is not a question.  His late pace stands out in this field, and with KATE’S GOLDEN DUDE, SOUL OF DISCRETION, and BARRY LEE all so likely to show early pace, any kind of a fair track on Saturday should have CAPTIVATING MOON in the picture down the lane.  Though the jockey change is a little odd (Carlos Marquez, trainer Chris Block’s top rider, is off; Jose Valdivia is on), he does get the leading rider in the colony — never a bad thing to see.

Another who should be rolling late is outside-drawn THE X.  He comes off a maiden victory over the grass at Ellis, where he overcame a slow start and rallied into a contested pace.  He should get the contested pace again here, and has a good chance for a clean trip with the outside draw.  Though his rider at Ellis, Brian Hernandez, did not make the trip (Kentucky Downs calls!), THE X gets a hot local rider in Mitchell Murrill.  With a pair of sharp works at Keeneland leading into the Arlington-Washington Futurity, trainer Ben Colebrook should have this son of Soldat ready to fire.




#10 THE X (6/1)

Longshot: #3 P R RADIO STAR (20/1) has yet to break his maiden.  But, his one race so far was a solid debut — he closed to finish beaten only three quarters of a length behind TAKE CHARGE DUDE in that Million Day opener.  As such, he fits the profile of a horse who could break his maiden here — he enters with a good race over the polytrack already under his belt.  With speedy types like KATE’S GOLDEN DUDE, SOUL OF DISCRETION, and BARRY LEE lining up for this, P R RADIO STAR gets a more lively setup than he did on his debut.  The Tom Swearingen trainee keeps rider Pedro Cotto aboard for that start.  The pedigree on both sides suggests seven furlongs should be within his abilities, and the price should be fair as he is a locally based maiden.

Race 8: Arlington-Washington Lassie, two-year-old fillies, seven furlongs on the polytrack, post time 5:05pm CDT

This year marks the 83rd running of the Arlington-Washington Lassie.  First run in 1929 as the Arlington Lassie, the race has been run at distances ranging from five and a half furlongs to a mile, but has only been run at its current seven-furlong distance since 2014.  Though the race merely carries listed status nowadays, it was graded as recently as 2012, and even held a Grade I from 1981 through 1989.  As recently as 2009, the race produced a champion: She Be Wild, from the barn of Wayne Catalano.  The daughter of Offlee Wild, who graduated on debut in a maiden claimer at Arlington, won four of her five starts as a two-year-old, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI).  She joined thirteen other fillies who won the Lassie on the way to being named the champion of their class: Eliza (1992), It’s In the Air (1978), Dearly Precious (1975), Process Shot (1968), Smart Deb (1962), Leallah (1956), Bewitch (1947), Beaugay (1945), Twilight Tear (1943), Now What (1939), Forever Yours (1935), Mata Hari (1933), and Top Flight (1931).

Top rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. has ridden several of these runners before: the entire Rivelli trio of RICHIE’SLILWILDCAT, FABRIANA, and HER WILD LIFESTYLE.  Yet, he turns up here on Presque Isle shipper RED DREAD.  RED DREAD stands out for another reason, too — she is the only horse in this race with two wins.  Everyone else has one or two.  Though form over the Tapeta does not always translate to the Polytrack, the fact that she has won going six and a half furlongs is a positive given that the Lassie covers seven, and her forward yet tactical style should be a good one to have here.  RED DREAD stands to get first run on the pacesetters, and has the experience advantage.

Trainer Eoin Harty sends out a pair: PRESAGE and ARDOR, who occupy the inward two gates.  Both have no shortage of experience on synthetic — though all on Tapeta, as they have only trained over the Arlington polytrack.  Between the two, ARDOR looks the better.  She finished second on debut at Woodbine, then returned to win by a hard-fought nose last out.  ARDOR should be able to stalk the pace, and based on her inside trip on her debut, should be able to handle the relatively inside draw in this fourteen-horse field.

There is no shortage of early speed in this field.  But, if speed is playing particularly well or the speed horses on the outside (HER WILD LIFESTYLE, COWGIRL CALLIE) have trouble clearing to the inside, RICHIE’SLILWILDCAT could get the upper hand.  She should have graduated at first asking, but left no doubt second out.  The question here is whether she will stretch from five furlongs to seven.  But, despite her serious six-furlong sire (Wildcat Heir), her dam side should carry her — her two half-brothers are by sprint sires as well (Bring the Heat and Benny the Bull), but are both two-turn stakes winners.  RICHIE’SLILWILDCAT is one of three in here from the barn of dominant local trainer Larry Rivelli, and has the best chance of any of the speed horses to actually get her way.


#10 RED DREAD (6/1)

#2 ARDOR (10/1)


Longshot:  #11 ROMANTIC ATTACK (30/1) gets a massive class test here, but the daughter of Forest Attack was impressive in breaking her maiden on August 24.  After bucking out of the gate and trailing the field early, she unleashed a visually impressive late kick.  That was good enough for the best Brisnet late pace figure of anyone in the entire Lassie field, a positive given that this field has a lot of pace for her to chase.  Polytrack is the question, as that impressive start came over turf.  ROMANTIC ATTACK did not run well on debut over polytrack, and so far the Forest Attack babies have not liked synthetics quite as much as Dear Old Dad did.  But, if the step forward was more about second-start progression, then you’ll get a great price to bet ROMANTIC ATTACK finds that late kick once again.


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