08/02/2012 4:18PM

Arlington: DiVito attempts to extend Midas touch with 2-year-olds to stakes


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – If a bettor had come to the Arlington Park meeting in 2010 and decided to bet every Jim DiVito-trained 2-year-old over the next three seasons, that bettor would be rolling in dough. DiVito’s record with juveniles the last three Arlington meetings is nothing less than remarkable: From 43 starters he has compiled a record of 21-7-4, good for a return on investment of $4.33. In addition the 48 percent strike rate, consider that almost twice as many DiVito 2-year-olds have won than failed to finish third or better.

But for all that glittering success, DiVito’s 2-year-old stakes runners over the same period have gotten blanked: Five runners, none of whom finished in the top three. It’s a conundrum that figures prominently in the co-featured Meadowlake Stakes on Saturday at Arlington, one of two $65,000 overnight races that serve as preps for the Arlington-Washington Lassie and the Arlington-Washington Futurity.

In the Meadowlake, the open race, DiVito sends out likely favorite Muppet Man, one among his legion of 2-year-old Arlington debut winners. Muppet Man, at a surprising 9-2 in the wagering, debuted July 1 in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race, going straight to the lead and widening his advantage to win by almost four lengths. Given his solid finish that day and his middle-distance-slanted pedigree, the seven-furlong trip in the Meadowlake seems well within Muppet Man’s range.

None of the Meadowlake nine has done more than win a maiden race, though Stormin Monarcho, another Arlington debut winner, did finish a close fourth July 21 in the $75,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile. Perhaps more appealing is Brown Almighty, who parlayed a flashy late run into a debut victory July 14, but how that turf-route performance in a slow-paced race translates to a Polytrack sprint is anyone’s guess.

The female-restricted race, the Lisa M, is filled with nine more unproven juveniles. The horse with the best-looking performance is Gold Edge, a Dolphus Morrison homebred by Eddington who cruised past seven $50,000 maiden-claimers to capture her career debut June 24 at Churchill for trainer Lon Wiggins.

But the most interesting entrant in the Lisa M is All Her Class, a Street Cry filly who is the first foal of champion Dreaming of Anna. All Her Class, bred and owned by Frank Calabrese, was trained by Eddie Kenneally when she thudded home sixth at odds of 9-5 in her June 30 debut on Churchill dirt, but trainer Wayne Catalano, who handled the dam, has seen enough from her in morning work to give All Her Class a shot in this overnight stakes with hopes of making the Lassie.

“She looks like her mother, a little stouter probably,” Catalano said. “I guess she wasn’t quite ready first time out, plus she didn’t have the best trip, and I think she’ll be better on Poly or grass. We thought it looked like a place to maybe take a shot.”

Win or lose, Catalano is right about that.