Race 3: Starter optional claiming, three-year-olds, fillies, started for claiming price of $30,000 or less OR $50,000 claiming price, about five furlongs on the turf
Selections: Silk Purse (2), Winekeeper (5), Richies Sweetheart (3)
Silk Purse drops in here from a much tougher allowance optional claiming race at Churchill last out, where she was in over her head. She should be more competitive in this field: she can chase several lengths off of what will likely be a very hot early pace, and pounce when the early speedsters have pushed each other to the limit. This is her first time trying the turf, but her dam has produced three turf winners, and trainer Wayne Catalano hits with 20% of his first-time turf runners. Winekeeper will likely be near the early pace, but she showed in her allowance win last out that she can rate: crucial in a race with so much on the front end, a race she won against toughter company. Her speed is strong for the field. She hasn’t raced since February 27, but trainer Mike Maker wins 23% of the time with horses first off layoffs of 90 days or longer; this suggests he has her back in racing condition. Richies Sweetheart has thus far been a strict speed horse, but unless she breaks poorly or gets bumped, she will almost certainly be the speed of the speed. She acquitted herself well at a mile last out, just getting nipped late by Countess Cashmere in the Purple Violet, but runs better in sprint races. She will like the cutback; assuming she handles turf well (she is a first-time turf runner), she may wire this race.
Race 4: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners of a race since January 12, 2014 OR N4L, one and one sixteenth miles on the synthetic
Selections: Delago (2), Garryowen (4), Ideal Alluvial (1)
Delago drops in class here from $7,500 beaten company last out, and boasts generally good speeds compared to the field here. He has shown success either stalking or closing; expect a more stalking trip here given the lack of need-the-lead types in this field. He likes this distance, with four of his nine career wins at a mile and a sixteenth. He also has shown good aptitude for the polytrack, having won three of his ten starts over the Arlington main. Garryowen doesn’t desperately need the lead, but has shown the sharpest early speed of the group, suggesting he may get to set the fractions by default. He likes the Arlington poly, having won in three of his five starts over the oval. If the field lets him set the fraction, he could lead them on a merry chase. Ideal Alluvial likes this distance a lot; he is 23-4-8-4 career at a mile and a sixteenth. Most of his speed figures rate well compared to the field, and he has shown a strong ability to fight for the lead and at least hit the board. He has so many second place finishes over the last eight months that he may be a better bet for lower rungs of exotics than for a straight win, but he does fit this condition well.
Race 5: Allowance optional claiming ($35,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $8,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N3L OR $40,000 claiming price, about one mile on the turfSelections: Stormin Elle (4), V V Goodnight (2), Seanchai (5)
Stormin Elle comes in here third off the winter lay, with a sharp work since her last race. Her first two outings this year have been on the synthetic, but she showed better last year in turf routes. Here she returns to just that. Her two wins at 1 1/16 miles over the turf last year were both over good turf, suggesting the rain in the forecast will not hurt her chances. She will likely be stalking off the front end, though showed in her maiden race that she can drop back and close as well if a really hot pace ensues. James Graham, the runaway win leader over the Arlington turf, rides. V V Goodnight drops in here from stakes company her last two times out, trying older company for the first time. The three-year-old filly did not hit the board in either the Regret (GIII) or the Edgewood (Listed), but in both races she finished less than two lengths behind the winner. She has won at this distance, and also has a win over turf rated good. Finally, her trainer Tom Proctor means business when he runs a horse at Arlington this meet: he has only run 18 horses so far this meet, and seven of them have won. Seanchai cuts back to a mile here, with solid speed for the field. She flattened out a bit late at a mile and an eighth last time out, but the combination of the shorter distance, the sharp recent works, and the class relief all suggest she is in a better spot here. She is another Tom Proctor trainee, and retains the services of jockey Channing Hill, who is winning at a 28% rate on the Arlington turf this meet.
Race 6: Allowance ($34,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $8,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, about one and one sixteenth miles on the turfSelections: Revolt (1), Laythatpistoldown (1A), He’s Dann Good (2)
Revolt (1) is in the perfect spot on the perfect day. The more it rains, the better Revolt looks. He has run three times on yielding turf: winning twice, and once finishing second by just 3/4 length. The pace in this race is not likely to be cracking, but as long as he stays midpack instead of a dozen lengths off the lead early, he is emphatically the one to beat here. He is single material in multi-race wagers, and top-rung material in intra-race exotics. His love of the yielding turf would make him a strong single candidate regardless, but here, you get the top two selections in the race for the price of one in your multirace wagers. Laythatpistoldown, the other half of the Team Block entry, is the only horse in this field who shows any desire to get on the early speed. With three wins over turf at this distance, if the field lets him set slow enough fractions, he could lead the field in a futile game of follow-the-leader. He’s Dann Good has yet to show the form he showed last year on the Arlington turf, but at third off the layoff here, he is worth one more try to regain that form. He drew the rail, which has been very good in turf routes this meet. He also switches to jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr., who is coming off a three-win day on Friday and has been very strong this season. He did win a state-bred allowance over good turf last year, suggesting that if he finds his form again, the rain won’t knock him completely out of contention.
Race 7: Arlington Handicap (GIII), three-year-olds and up, one and one fourth miles on the turfSelections: Avanzare (4), War Dancer (2), Mister Marti Gras (3)
Avanzare is taking a rise in class here, but the pace scenario will likely favour him nicely. He is the only one in this field who has shown a desire for the early speed. He will likely set the fractions, and has a good chance to take the field wire to wire. He stretches out to the longest distance of his career, which is the biggest question surrounding him. However, between the likely favourable pace scenario and the fact that all four of his career wins have been over turf rated good (as opposed to firm), his stakes debut may well be his first graded stakes win. War Dancer has seen success from stalking or closing positions; given the lack of early speed other than Avanzare, expect him to stalk here. The distance is no question; he won at a mile and a half last out, and won the Virginia Derby at this distance last year. That Virginia Derby victory was on good turf, suggesting he can deal with some give in the ground. Finally, seven-year-old gelding Mister Marti Gras comes into this race in career form. Last out he won an upper-crust allowance optional claimer over the Arlington turf. It was a strong run, but nothing that would sap his energy coming into this race. He has put up a bullet work since that race, and his speed stacks up very well given this group. The biggest worry is pace; he usually comes from fairly far off, especially when Eduardo Perez rides, which makes Avanzare’s likely lone speed a drawback. Still, given his form, he is a strong selection on the turf, with five wins over the green stuff — and, if the weather is so bad that the race is washed off to the synthetic, he has hit the board in six of seven tries over synthetic surfaces.
Race 8: Stars and Stripes Stakes (GIII), three-year-olds and up, one and one half miles on the turfSelections: Olympic Thunder (8), The Pizza Man (7), Moro Tap (1)No one in this race needs the early pace, or even wants it much. The closest thing to pace that this race has is Olympic Thunder, and this horse could very well steal the race on the front end. He has been near the pace and lasted a mile and a half before; in the 2013 Kentucky Turf Cup, he stalked just a length or two off of Whatthecatdrugin. He took the lead in the final half-mile, and was just nipped by a neck by Temeraine late. If Olympic Thunder can dictate easy enough early fractions, he has the stamina to go the whole way. The Pizza Man stretches out to a mile and a half for only the second time in his career. Last year, he finished third in this race, beaten only 1 3/4 lengths by Dark Cove. He did this with Florent Geroux aboard, and Geroux rides again this year. The Pizza Man comes into this race second off the lay, and on a three-race win streak. He loves the Arlington turf, boasting a 9-6-1-1 career record over it. Finally, he is extremely versatile with respect to pace scenario: he has won races stalking fairly close to the pace, or from a longer distance back. He shouldn’t be too hurt by the likely slow early pace. Moro Tap tried twelve furlongs for the first time last out in the Louisville Handicap, and finished a respectable third behind War Dancer and Suntracer. In that race Moro Tap finished almost eight lengths ahead of Perfect Timber, who followed that race up by finishing second by a nose in the one and a half mile Singspiel Stakes (GII) last weekend. His works since his last race have been very sharp. Breaking from the rail, he has a good chance for that inside stalking trip once more, and should have enough gas late to make a charge for the front.
The favourite, Suntracer, is a very classy horse, and a proven turf marathoner. However, he has not won a race since 2012. Given his turf marathon prowess, Suntracer is a must-use in second and third rungs of exacta and trifecta wagers. However, given his track record of not getting or maintaining the lead when it counts, he is not a strong choice to win — especially as the likely betting favourite in the race.
Race 9: American Derby (GIII), three-year-olds, one and three sixteenths miles on the turfSelections: Hesinfront (1), Schoolofhardrocks (4), Our Channel (7)Hesinfront has not stretched to this distance yet, but all three of his attempts at a mile and an eighth have been strong. Twice he has been winning by an expanding margin late, and the other was a close third in which he was gaining late. This War Front colt should have no problem handling the distance, and should be charging to mow down likely pacesetter Our Channel late. Local jockey Channing Hill, who is winning at a 28% over the Arlington turf this meet, rides. Schoolofhardrocks, after trying the Triple Crown trail on the West Coast, has found the turf to be more to his liking. In his first start on the green stuff, he finished second beaten just 1/2 length in the Desert Code Stakes, at six and a half furlongs over the Santa Anita turf. Next time out he stretched out to a mile and an eighth in an allowance optional claiming race, and won by daylight. The son of Rock Hard Ten is bred for distance, he has a string of long, strong workouts leading up to this race, and he has plenty of speed to contend here. Our Channel will likely be the one to set the early fractions; the only other horse in the field how shows a strong affinity for the lead is Ghostly Wonder. Ghostly Wonder may be able to push the pace briefly early, but is highly unlikely to want even a mile, much less nine and a half furlongs. Distance is not a worry for Our Channel; he won at ten furlongs in the Derby Trial at Epsom. He has done his best work over turf rated soft and good, so the rain will only help this British invader. The third choice in this race was a close call between Our Channel and Divine Oath (2), but the likely rainy forecast tips the scales in favour of Our Channel, given his strong record on soft turf.
Race 10: Modesty Handicap (GIII), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one and three sixteenths miles on the turfSelections: I’m Already Sexy (13), White Rose (14), Every Way (3)
I’m Already Sexy has never run a bad race on the Arlington turf. She has run over it three times, and won over it three times, two of which have been in stakes company. Her last outing over good turf was a disappointing 9th in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (GII) last year, but it was against tough company at the end of a long campaign. She won last year over turf rated good in a five furlong allowance-level sprint, in a dead heat with Flower Spell. This is nothing to sneeze at: Flower Spell is not only another horse for the Arlington turf course, but a monster at six furlongs or below. Thus, the rain should not be an issue. I’m Already Sexy has shown good early pace, especially over the Arlington turf, and also goes on Lasix for the first time here. White Rose is on a class rise here, but has plenty else to suggest that this is a wise move. She finished third against males in an April allowance at Keeneland going a mile and a half, suggesting she has more than enough stamina for this race. She does have a win at this distance, in an allowance at Saratoga. She has been working extremely well going into this race, including a bullet five furlong work at Churchill on July 6. Finally, even though she breaks from the 14 gate, she showed last out that outside gates are no problem: she broke from the 10 gate in a ten-horse field, and won. Every Way is another proven lover of the Arlington turf, with a 3-1-2-0 record over it. She is on a class rise, but has had two strong races so far this year and may even improve further third off the lay. In fact, trainer Michael Stidham wins at a 23% clip with horses third off the lay. She is working well, and retains jockey James Graham: the best turf route jockey in the Arlington colony.
Race 11: $25,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, about one mile on the turfSelections: Jazzy Genius (3), Little Bit o’ Soup (12), Honey Waterfall (2)
Jazzy Genius drops in class here from $50,000 company, and has done her best work to date in turf routes. The only times she has finished a race within three lengths of the front have been in races at a mile or above on the turf. Last out she was farther back at a turf mile, but the class drop should put her back in contention. She put up her two best speed figures at turf miles at Fair Grounds over the winter, on courses rated good and yielding. The cut back to a flat mile, the class drop, and the rain in the forecast combine to give Jazzy Genius a solid chance to graduate. Little Bit o’ Soup drops from maiden $50,000 company as well. She was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths in her first career race, which was at this class level. She also switches back to James Graham, the best turf route jockey at Arlington, and the jockey who rode her in that debut two starts back. Honey Waterfall, a first-time starter, is a paddock play. She races for a Pavel Vashchenko barn that is known to send out some serious price horses in maiden races. His ROI on first-time starters is +4.68 (from 6 winners in 35 starters), and his ROI on first-time turfers is a staggering +9.75 (from 3 winners in 13 starters). She does not have a ton of workouts, but the ones she has posted are fine for a first-time starter at the maiden $25,000 level. If she looks fit in the paddock and stays anywhere near her 20/1 morning line, take a flyer on her: she could be another Vashchenko bomb.
Race 12: Allowance optional claiming ($35,000 purse), three-year-olds and up, non-winners of $8,800 twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N3L OR $40,000 claiming price, one and one sixteenth miles on the syntheticSelections: Banner Bill (6), Gallant Eagle (7), Hattash (2)
There is no need-to-lead horse in this race, but Banner Bill should at least be close to the pace: helpful in a race where the pace will likely be slow to moderate. This horse has been on the board in five of seven starts over polytrack, including two stakes wins at Woodbine as a juvenile. His workouts are not blazing fast, but they are consistent, and good enough to suggest fitness. Best of all, he is trained by Tom Amoss. Amoss is shipping him down from Churchill, and wins at a sparkling 32% rate with shippers, with 66% in the money. He is also 6-for-11 with his runners this Arlington meet: he doesn’t run many, but when he does, he places them brilliantly. Gallant Eagle loves the Arlington polytrack, boasting a lifetime record of 8-4-2-2 over it. This record includes last year’s Washington Park Handicap (GIII), in which he finished just a nose behind Willcox Inn. He moves up in class from a $5,000 starter allowance last out, but he blew that field away. He has put up speed figures that place him right in the running here, and shown in the past that he can string together multiple strong races. His three workouts since that race have all been bullets, though none so blindingly fast to suggest he used up his energy. Hattaash drops into her from an upper-crust allowance optional claiming race at Arlington last out. This is a far easier field, lacking buzzsaws like the stakes-caliber Mister Marti Gras and the red-hot R. Great Adventure. His speed figures are consistently near the top end for this field. He is strong at a mile and a sixteenth, with six wins and five more on-the-board finishes in seventeen starts at the distance. He is also strong on the Arlington polytrack, finishing on the board in ten out of fourteen starts over the course.
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