05/14/2011 4:09PM

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


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.