07/19/2006 11:00PM

Arlington Handicap preview


Red Fort, Rush Bay, and Artiste Royal all should be well regarded at the windows so perhaps Embossed can make some noise at an overlaid mutuel. The Irish-bred was steadied going into the first turn of his recent 'N2X' win at Churchill Downs, and was shuffled back a bit going into the final bend. The hedge opened up for him in the stretch, however, and he wore down the leaders with a solid late rally. He'll receive a stiff class test in the Arlington 'Cap, but may be worth the risk if his morning line odds of 10-1 hold up.

Red Fort was only beaten 3 3/4 lengths by the top horse in the country, Lava Man, in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park, and will now make the important third start of the form cycle for master horseman Neil Drysdale. Red Fort has earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in all of his races in North America, but doesn't offer much wagering value as the 6-5 favorite on the morning line.

Artiste Royal finished behind Red Fort in the Whittingham, but his Beyer Speed Figures are going the right way for trainer Laura De Seroux. He has decent tactical speed, and may be close to the expected moderate pace up front. A Group 3 winner at this distance in France, Artiste Royal's numbers and company lines make him a strong contender.

Rush Bay put up big Beyers to win his last two starts, and the expected slow pace could work to his advantage. Don't be surprised if he's near the lead after the opening half-mile, but it's interesting to note that all three of his turf wins came at Churchill Downs. He's 0-2 elsewhere including a fourth-place finish in a 'N3X' allowance race at Keeneland to kick off his 2006 campaign.

1. Embossed
2. Red Fort
3. Artiste Royal