05/14/2011 5:09PM

Arlington: Turf not so slow after all; Lisa Merritt hot again

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On second thought, the Arlington grass course may not be all that sodden. Slow pace, slow final time in day's first grass heat, race 6, and even though the fast pace-setters (23 and change, 47 and change) in race 7, Royal Alluvial and odds-on favorite Prima Donna Pirate, backed up badly in the stretch,  the final time of 1:38.24 was solid for an Illinois-bred N1X allowance. That's especially slow considering open MSWs the race before had gone about 3.5 seconds slower.

Prima Donna Pirate (light workout activity since Feb. 27 last start was a concern) folded up badly, and much the best was Basilio's Thunder, a horse I was convinced would not win again until she got into a one-turn Polytrack mile. Wrong. That makes two winners from three starters for trainer Lisa Merritt early this meet. Merritt had a tough winter with a handful of horses she sent to New Orleans, but hers was a barn to follow here last summer, and obviously has bullets to fire again in '11.