2019 Arlington-Washington Futurity and Arlington-Washington Lassie Preview

The stakes portion of this summer’s Arlington meet draws to a close Saturday afternoon with a pair of juvenile races: the Arlington-Washington Futurity and the Arlington-Washington Lassie.  The races, seven-furlong listed polytrack stakes that offer purses of $75,000, are both the only two-year-old stakes on the calendar, and are once again the first juvenile races of the summer meet that are not limited to maidens.

Arlington Park: Saturday, September 7

Race 7: Arlington-Washington Lassie, two-year-old fillies, seven furlongs on the polytrack, post time 4:39pm CDT

This year marks the 85th 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 carries listed status nowadays, it was graded as recently as 2012, and even held a Grade 1 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 (G1).  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).

The main decision you have to make in the Arlington-Washington Lassie is whether you’re with or against the likely favourite, ANGELCENTS.  The outside post should be no problem; going seven furlongs, Jose Valdivia probably just puts her on the lead and tries to take her all the way around.  But, SPITEFULNESS also has some sharp early pace, and two back suggested that she needs to be forward to turn in one of her better efforts.  WHISPER SLOW also stands to get a forward position early.  ANGELCENTS probably outjumps these two, but they’ll at least be forward enough to ensure than ANGELCENTS goes an honest clip.  As for her pedigree?  The Goldencents on top is a positive for seven furlongs, but underneath, she is out of a mare whose only win came at five furlongs, and whose only other runner has a lot of underneath finishes at five and six furlongs, but has also been stamina-challenged.  So, at a short price, it makes more sense to fly away from ANGELCENTS.

MOM’S RED LIPSTICK was the first really impressive juvenile maiden winner of the meet.  She romped in a maiden special weight on Ride to the Million Day, July 13, sitting midpack before kicking on well in the lane.  So, judging from that running style, the more honest the pace gets up front, the better it is for MOM’S RED LIPSTICK.  Though, that debut came over just five furlongs, and she didn’t have the best start, so there are plenty of reasons she can sit a little closer should she have to.  With the possibility of second-start progression squarely in play, MOM’S RED LIPSTICK can impress again.

CONTENDRESS is a bit more seasoned than most of the runners in this race.  She has three starts underneath her.  She woke up third time out, in a maiden special weight on August 10, part of the Arlington Million undercard.  It was her first race in Chicago, after two starts on the Kentucky circuit.  And, it was her first start over the Arlington polytrack.  Going first-time blinkers in that start CONTENDRESS stalked just off the pace, took the lead in upper stretch and held.  That kind of trip could serve this daughter of Competitive Edge well, and though rider Mitchell Murrill hasn’t ridden her before, he is the right combination of aggressive and shrewd to work out that sort of trip again.  And, on pedigree, CONTENDRESS should have no trouble staying seven furlongs.

Second behind CONTENDRESS that day was Illinois-bred WAR COLORS: ambitiously placed in a big-day maiden, sent off at 29/1, and coming on sharply in the lane.  The question with WAR COLORS is just how much pace will unfold in front of her, because many of these stand to get a jump on her.  But, the stretch out in trip should suit her nicely, being by Revolutionary out of a mare who has been versatile enough to have foals winning short and long. One other thing worth noting?  WAR COLORS only has one maintenance work between her debut and this race.  But, being based at Fairmount?  That’s a deep track, and if she has been training day in and day out on it, it’s the kind of surface that should be able to keep her sharp and fit.


#9 WAR COLORS (6/1)

Longshot:  #4 SUMMER DAY (20/1) debuted with a late-running third-place finish in a turf mile on the Million Day undercard, unleashing a sharp late kick.  The question, of course, is whether she will be able to find it while cutting back to one turn and switching to polytrack.  But, SUMMER DAY is by Sky Mesa, who is an excellent juvenile synthetic track sire: 21% with juveniles on synthetic in general, 22% with two-year-olds sprinting on synthetics. She is also out of Summer Again: herself a winner sprinting on the Arlington poly, and a daughter of Summer Mis, a Grade 3-winning dirt sprinter who won going as long as the one-turn mile.  There’s plenty of reason to think SUMMER DAY can thrive at seven furlongs on the polytrack, and after that nice kick she showed on debut, she’ll appreciate having sharp fractions to roll into again.

Race 8: Arlington-Washington Futurity, two-year-olds, seven furlongs on the polytrack, post time 5:11pm 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 1 from when races were first assigned grades in 1973 through 1989, it held a Grade 3 designation from 2002 through 2016, then was downgraded to its current listed status.

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 from graded status, 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 (G2) before coming to Arlington, and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) 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).

This year’s Arlington-Washington Futurity, which drew a field of nine, has two horses likely to take quite a bit of money.  One, VINCENT WILLIAM, broke his maiden over the course and got a bit more seasoning with a third-place finish in a turf dash allowance at Colonial Downs.  But, VINCENT WILLIAM is worth taking a strong stance against.  He’ll probably be the early pace, but his pedigree has no appeal at seven furlongs.  Sire Iqbaal has been excellent at producing precocious super-short sprinters.  Dam Yogi’s Polar Bear has 21 wins across her foals: 17 of which came at distances shorter than six furlongs.  Surface isn’t a question, but it’s as “short dashes only” of a pedigree as you’re likely to see.  And, with FAST DREAMER and perhaps WOOPIGSOOIE likely to be forward, VINCENT WILLIAM will not get to crawl the way he would need to in order to get seven furlongs.

PERUVIAN BOY, should he go off the chalk, would be the more deserving favorite.  He graduated second-time out in a maiden special weight on the Ride to the Million Day undercard, prevailing by only a nose over King Snake but well clear of the rest of the field.  He was a well-beaten fourth behind Green Light Go in the Saratoga Special (G2) next out, but now drops in class and gets back on the polytrack over which he won.  The son of Tapiture should have no trouble staying the seven furlongs of the Futurity, and he gets rider Jose Valdivia aboard — notable, especially since Valdivia rides here for Correas, and not VINCENT WILLIAM for Rivelli, for whom he rides first-call.  It’s hard to take chalk on any horse with some other competitive foes in this, but PERUVIAN BOY would be no surprise to make a rally from midpack.

BRECKENRIDGE is an interesting alternative who can get the jump on PERUVIAN BOY.  He needed his debut — and has tables to turn on PERUVIAN BOY from that — but stretched out to seven furlongs on July 28, got a nice stalking trip, and won well clear of the field.  So, BRECKENRIDGE is proven to stay this distance, and has proven that he has tactical speed over the trip.  Rider Mitchell Murrill, trainer Mike Stidham’s first-call at Arlington, remains in the saddle.  With further upside to improve in just his third career start, BRECKENRIDGE is going the right way, and could get a cozy trip with first run on the speeding types.

JANUARY WON still has to prove that he can handle the polytrack, and doesn’t have a lot of synthetic-track pedigree.  But?  Being by New Year’s Day out of a Pulpit mare who has produced winners over a range of distances, the stretch out to seven furlongs is well within the realm of possibility.  And?  The fact that JANUARY WON won first-out speaks volumes.  He is trained by Ken McPeek — a trainer who rarely wins first-time out, and whose debut winners often prove to be good ones.  And, JANUARY WON rallied from midpack to score on debut July 18, over five and a half furlongs on the Saratoga dirt.  Yes, it wasn’t the toughest maiden race at Saratoga, since it was a field restricted by auction price, but those still weren’t easy, and the speed came back perfectly competitive to make JANUARY WON a logical sort in this bunch, whether you read the Brisnets or the Beyers.  If he takes to the footing, he should be coming on well in the lane.


#8 JANUARY WON (8/1)

Longshot:  #1 WOOPIGSOOIE (15/1) tries polytrack for the first time after a pair of solid efforts dashing on the grass at Indiana Grand.  He probably won’t get that front-end trip he got last time, between the early sharpness of VINCENT WILLIAM and the fact that rider Carlos Marquez has patient tendencies.  But, on the stretch out from five furlongs, he shouldn’t be far away, and he gained nicely on debut and missed by only a neck after tracking off the pace and rallying.  Polytrack is a question; there’s not a lot of it in the dam’s side, though sire Secret Circle did win his only start on a synthetic surface, his debut at Del Mar.  But, the dam has been a versatile enough producer distance-wise to think that he may stretch out to seven and a half furlongs.  There’s a lot of “what if”, but at the price WOOPIGSOOIE is likely to be, there’s enough possibility to consider him.


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