07/04/2008 12:00AM

Arlington Cap could draw eight


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The chances of the world's highest-rated horse making an appearance at Arlington Park on July 12 seem to be fading day by day, but local patrons can take some solace in the fact that even if Saturday's Million Preview Day here winds up Curlin-free, the racing should still be excellent.

Issues of his owners' licensing aside, Curlin as of Friday seemed more likely to ship by air from Kentucky to New York than by van from Kentucky to Chicago next week - and that will make the Arlington Handicap a much easier sell to prospective starters in the race. With Curlin in the mix, Arlington would struggle to get a sixth entry in the $200,000 Arlington Handicap; without him, the race could draw seven or eight entries when fields are assembled Wednesday.

Arlington stakes coordinator Craig Lytel said Friday he expects Corrupt, Cosmonaut, Distorted Reality, and Stream Cat for the Arlington Handicap, with horses like Sudan and Operation Red Dawn possible for the race if Curlin goes to the Man o' War at Belmont next weekend.

The day's two other stakes should be deeper. The American Derby, the second leg of the Mid-America Triple, could draw a full field of perhaps 12 starters, headed by the top 3-year-old grass horses Gio Ponti from New York and Tizdejavu from Kentucky. Blue Exit, a French-based winner in three of his five starts, also is expected to run.

The $150,000 Modesty, a prep for the Beverly D., also could draw 11 or more runners, a great number for this race. The race could include Forever Together, a sleeper of a grass filly who won an overnight stakes race here earlier this meet before finishing a fine third in the Grade 1 Just a Game last month at Belmont.

Ellis closure could send some horses to Chicago

If the shutdown of Ellis Park holds through the summer, racing at Arlington would stand to benefit, but not in the way one might expect.

Low-level claimers who typically might run at Ellis - and there are many of those - could wind up seeking races in Ohio, Fairmount Park, or other smaller venues, Arlington racing secretary Kevin Greely guessed, but Kentucky horsemen with maidens or lower-level allowance horses could turn to Arlington for suitable spots.

"The guys in Lexington and Louisville with maidens, a-other-thans, or two-other-thans, I think you'd see more of them looking here," Greely said.

Ellis, the western Kentucky track, failed to open as scheduled this week because of a host of problems, the main one of which is a dispute between Kentucky tracks and a horsemen's group about the percentage of account-wagering revenue that will be directed to purses. Ellis's closure means less competition in the region for a scarce summer resource - race-ready horses.

Arlington runs a shuttle from Churchill and Keeneland to Arlington for Kentucky-based stables that ship horses to race in Chicago.

Advice hits the scene with eight-length win

Here's a piece of advice: Keep an eye out for a 2-year-old colt named Advice, an eight-length debut winner here on Thursday.

Advice, a son of Chapel Royal and the mare Words o' Wisdom, was purchased by WinStar Farm for $170,000 at a Florida 2-year-olds in training sale in February, and after working at Keeneland through mid-May, he was sent to trainer Todd Pletcher's Arlington string. Here, he breezed six times before starting off in a one-mile Polytrack race Thursday. Mike Dilger, Pletcher's local assistant, said Advice was ready to run perhaps 10 days before he did, but was held out of short sprint races for Thursday's one-turn mile.

"We thought a mile would suit him," Dilger said. "He had always galloped out strong at the end of his works."

Advice didn't look flashy against the clock, getting his mile in 1:38.60, but the local Polytrack has been slow this week, and visually, Advice seemed well above average for an Arlington maiden winner.

Fast fractions would help Seemingly

A substantive 12-horse turf route for 3-year-old fillies (race 8) highlights the Sunday card here.

Leading the field are the three-four finishers from the May 24 American 1000 Guineas, Seemingly and Elle Tish Slew. Much Obliged, the American 1000 Guineas winner, returned with a fine second last weekend in the Boiling Springs at Monmouth, validating the Arlington race's form.

The problem with Seemingly is her propensity to drop so far behind the early leaders in her races. Seemingly always breaks last or nearly last, and in the American 1000 Guineas she still was only in eighth place at the stretch call before finishing fast. That said, if all the pace entered in Sunday's entry-level allowance shows up, the fractions should be plenty quick for Seemingly.

Elle Tish Slew also ran well last out, finishing only a head behind Seemingly, and she figures to get the jump on that filly once again.