09/17/2006 11:00PM

Arch Hall returns after 11-week layoff


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Arch Hall is the horse to beat in Wednesday's $125,000 Overskate Stakes, but his readiness for this seven-furlong contest is somewhat questionable as he hasn't raced since July 1.

The late-running Arch Hall finished second in last year's Overskate, and had a successful winter stint at Oaklawn before taking the Grade 3 Eclipse Stakes at 1 1/16 miles here May 22. After finishing second in the Steady Growth at the same distance, he was a well-beaten fifth behind Funny Cide in the 1 1/4-mile Dominion Day Stakes last time out.

Trainer Mark Casse said the Dominion Day took something out of Arch Hall, so he decided to give him a break after that Grade 3 race, with a fall campaign in mind.

"Seven-eighths might be a touch short for him, but maybe not on the Polytrack," Casse said. "I'm not sure that he's absolutely at his very best yet, and I don't think it's an easy race. We're getting him ready for the Sir Barton."

Arch Hall has won the last two runnings of the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton, which is scheduled for Dec. 3.

The Overskate has lured a fine field of Ontario-sired runners, including Millfleet, Main Executive, Dave the Knave, Moonshine Justice, and Mister Coop.

Millfleet has fared well on dirt and turf this year for trainer Mike DePaulo. He won the seven-furlong Ontario Jockey Club Stakes over soft ground in July, and was second in the Aug. 6 Shepperton Stakes on the inner dirt track.

Most recently, Millfleet finished third in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes after being checked on the turn. The runner-up, California invader Becrux, returned to capture Sunday's Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.

Main Executive won the six-furlong New Providence Stakes in May, and was declared a non-starter in the Shepperton. He failed to carry his speed in his last two outings, including the seven-furlong Play the King.

Dave the Knave won the 7 1/2-furlong Shepperton with a strong wide rally over a speed-favoring surface. He was beaten a neck last time in the six-furlong Kenora Stakes, in which he pressed a slow early pace, before dropping back and re-rallying for second.

Moonshine Justice is shortening up off a third-place finish in the Elgin Stakes.

Mister Coop, the 2005 Overskate winner, exits a flat sixth-place finish in the Kenora.