09/02/2011 6:53PM

Arlington: Turf talent out Friday


Three grass horses in two turf races have caught my eye today. The first, and potentially most meaningless, was race 4 winner Tilden Lane, a third-time-starting (second going long on turf) 3-year-old Cactus Ridge gelding trained by one Keith Chudzik, the trainer of 12 starters so far this calendar year. Considering how Where's the Baby was getting hammered at the windows for most of the betting, Tilden Lane was quite live on the board at 7-2 with a few minutes to post, and he took a great deal of late action to go off at 5-2. And one can see why. Granted, there was a perfect pocket trip involved, but once switched out at the eighth pole by Junior Alvarado (who does ride a lovely grass race -- especially on a live horse), Tilden Lane mowed down multiple-lead-changing Where's the Baby like nothing, and did so basically on his own. Tilden Lane probably got his final half-furlong in something like 5.70 seconds.

Just completed race 6, a two-turn turf mile maiden, could have greater near-term implications, considering the Breeders' Cup now has 2yo grass races for males and females. These were fillies, and two of them look like keepers. Rainbow Blossom's good performance was expected: She was the 3-5 favorite having been left with too much to do behind a slow pace while rallying well for second of seven in her Aug. 5 career debut. She won, but only just, with first-time starter Songs and Sonnets making just as good an impression as the winner. Surprisingly dead on the board (double digit odds much of the betting, off at 8-1) considering her work pattern looked good and her pedigree, Unbridled's Song -- Bedanken, even better. Songs and Sonnets showed speed from the start but relaxed nicely under Eddie Perez. She took over at the top of the stretch when given her cue, briefly opened daylight, but soon was collared by Rainbow Blossom, who had Songs and Sonnets in her sights all along and appeared to be on her way to an easy win. But the first-timer battled back strongly along the inside and came within a head of reaching even terms with Rainbow Blossom at the finish while galloping out in front. Mike Stidham trains the winner, Donnie Von Hemel the runner-up, and both horses look all right.