ARLINGTON PARK NOTEBOOK
Arlington's traditional Independence Day Holiday headliner, the Stars and Stripes H. (G3), will be highlighted by Canadian champion CLOUDY'S KNIGHT (Lord Avie), who has accumulated more than $2 million in earnings throughout his illustrious career. Now eight, Cloudy's Knight has matured into a long-distance specialist, earning his biggest score last October in the Canadian International (Can-G1) at Woodbine Race Course after previously taking the 11-furlong Sky Classic (Can-G2), also at Woodbine. Last year, the Frank Kirby trainee was caught in the final strides of the Stars and Stripes and is now looking for revenge. LATTICE (Arch), winner of the 2007 American Derby (G2) over this course and now trained by Albert Stall, returns for the Stars and Stripes and appears to be the main rival for Cloudy's Knight.
To anyone playing this Arlington meet full-time it will come as no surprise that favorites have performed quite well since the opening bell. Of the initial 100 races run here, 41 have been taken by the post time favorite for an unusually high 41 percent mark. Since that time however and over the past couple of weeks that number has begun leveling off with favorites winning at a more reasonable 34 percent clip. Still, that's not bad for anyone seeking some consistency which is after all the hallmark of any winning horseplayer.
Although there have been days where the Polytrack surface has favored a certain running style over another, this track has nonetheless been amazingly consistent throughout the entire meet to date. We've talked about late runners having a slight edge occasionally and the stats do tend to support that observation. Horses who are at least five lengths behind through the first half of the race have won nearly 54 percent of the time here, while those who are on the lead or within two lengths of the front score at a 46 percent rate. But, to reiterate a point I made earlier in the season, much of that front-running success has come from superior animals who should be winning. That's a relevant point that should be kept in mind especially when considering whether an outclassed horse can upset the field as the lone speed. This surface tends to make that more difficult then is commonly accepted.
Wow -- $110.80 Mutuel
Talk about the luck of the Irish. In Friday's 8TH race, a foal born on St. Patrick's Day of 2005 lit up the tote board with a $110.80 win price -- highest of the current meeting -- as JADE'S QUEST (Van Nistelrooy) scored for trainer John Wainwright. And it couldn't have come at a better time for Wainwright who has been mired in meet long slump, having won previously just once from 24 other starters. Jade's Quest had made only one start prior to Friday's upset, finishing 12th beaten more than 30 lengths in a maiden race last August at Ellis Park.
"After I got her (from trainer Eddie Essenpreis), I had her pretty close to running," Wainwright said, "and then she had another little setback so I decided to give her some time off and let her regroup a little bit."
Quite an understatement as it turns out.
"Jerry (winning jockey La Sala) has been getting on her in the mornings since she got to Arlington this summer," Wainwright continued. "He told me that she was really beginning to come around and he expected she'd run well."
In what completed the exacta of understatements!
No doubt due to the scathing beating trainer Steve Asmussen took right here in the Arlington notebook, his stable has finally gotten off the snide here by posting his first win. When AGASTACHE (Mutakddim) scored Saturday, it ended an 0-for-38 skid for this usually powerful operation, and we're sure there's more to follow. Or, we'll have to get rough once again!
RECENT CLAIMS TO WATCH
2ND -- PASSIONATE KIP (Kelly Kip), an underachieving five-year-old mare, moves into the barn of high-percentage first off the claim trainer Michael Maker. Not only does Maker excel with his claims, but since this horse has been in the same barn since her career started there's a strong possibility that different surroundings could produce solid improvement. The reason is that horses tend to get stale and bored under the same training regiment.
7TH -- LISSA'S STAR (Valid Expectations), who after winning last time out at this $25,000 level, looked to be on his way to another score except for suffering through a troubled trip. Now it looks to be trainer Roger Brueggemann who'll be the main beneficiary of this five-year-old mare after making what appears to be a timely claim.
1ST -- R TRUE LADY (Yes It's True) was claimed away from trainer Larry Rivelli last year at this time and now he's taken her back for a song. When a stable takes a horse back after such a lengthy hiatus, it's typically because they know them well and see impending physical improvement that others may miss thus making the time ripe.
3RD -- SUBCULTURAL GIRL (Olympio) was stepping up considerably in price, but trainer Michael Campbell still elected to take her. That may prove to be a shrewd purchase as she has all of her allowance conditions available, which is where she's clearly headed.
5TH -- SUGAR SOUP (Alphabet Soup), a Lone Star shipper, turned in a solid effort going for the first time over any type of synthetic track. Was used early and eventually was done in by the difficult seven-furlong distance, but she can easily rebound for new trainer Jeffery Lynn.
HORSES TO WATCH
1ST -- LOVE ALASKA (Alaskan Frost), a lightly raced three-year-old gelding, has been demonstrating his inexperience yet simultaneously illuminating untapped potential. He's much better than he has shown thus far on paper.
3RD -- LAYNEE BUG (Behrens), a first-time starter, suffered through a troubled trip yet still turned in an encouraging overall performance. Trainer Don Von Hemel's runners tend to move forward with experience so expect better next out.
1ST -- CECILIA'S FEVER (Stormy Atlantic), a three-year-old filly, has been coming on with a vengeance of late. Last out, she knocked out her first allowance condition in powerful fashion and today just missed in a non-winners of two in a determined performance against Missy Biscuit (Silic [Fr]), who's essentially a stakes horse. Cecilia's Fever will have little to no problem knocking out that condition next time around.
4TH -- WHATITSALLABOUT (Labeeb [GB]) turned in a solid performance going first time off the claim for trainer Dale Bennett but was compromised when being forced to race extremely wide. Was still coming on strong through the lane and looks to be on the verge of a big win especially going added ground.
2ND -- WINPINS (Tenpins) first time starter was hammered repeatedly coming out of the gate today but despite being knocked off stride never showed any intentions of tossing in the towel. Instead, she managed to rally with a furious late rush which is unusual for a young horse especially when going just a scant four 1/2 furlongs. Now it will be interesting to watch what develops from here on out with this filly.
5TH -- SURELY JACKSON (Cactus Ridge) was making her second start off the shelf today and turned in a deceptively strong middle move, the kind that signals a winning effort is looming in the not too distant future!
2ND -- OUR BLAZE (Shadow Launcher), who despite receiving a less then stellar ride from bug Inez Karlsson, gave odds-on choice Midianite (Lil E. Tee) all she could handle. Can do better when not forced to face such a tiger.
BEWARE OF THESE
3RD -- ANNE CHOVI (Gilded Time), a four-year-old filly, returned from a year-long hiatus last month but despite having the talent, she's running like a horse who has lost all desire to compete. Dropped down to the $25,000 level today, she could and should have handle these strictly on ability, but instead ran only as hard as she felt necessary. Thoroughbreds understand that when the gate opens they have to run but how much effort they put forth is entirely up to them. The time on the shelf apparently convinced this one that there's a better way to live.\
Steve Collison, Brisnet.com
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