07/09/2009 11:00PM

Arlington Handicap seems like old times


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Stream Cat is 6. So is Just as Well. Seven-year-old Cosmonaut is here, too, and 9-year-old Silverfoot is almost a child of the dim, dark 1990s. So, okay, Saturday's Arlington Handicap is a race for geezers, but these old guys still can throw down.

Stream Cat, a sharp winner of the Arlington Handicap last summer, won the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap earlier this year. Just as Well almost won the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes the last time he raced. Cosmonaut, winner of the Arlington Handicap in 2006 and 2007, was victorious in his 7-year-old debut, the Grade 3 Ft. Marcy, and comes off a decent fifth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap. And how about Silverfoot? In his first start of 2009, he rallied from the back of the pack and won The Tin Man Stakes here.

These four seniors make up less than one-third of the 13-horse field in the Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington Handicap, the last of 12 races on Million Preview Day. The program starts at 12:15 p.m. Central, and includes two other graded stakes, the Modesty (race 5) and the American Derby (race 7). The Arlington Handicap finishes off a $100,000-guaranteed pick four, the third leg of which is the $200,000 Arlington Turf Sprint, a Breeders' Cup Challenge event.

Silverfoot won the Stars and Stripes here last season, and was fourth in the Million. Don't call Silverfoot a graybeard - his coat was gray all along and now has gone to white. But even halfway through his 9-year-old year, Silverfoot has shown little sign of diminishment.

"Knock on wood, as long as he gets his time off in the winter, he fights back for you," said trainer Dallas Stewart.

Silverfoot had a quick pace at which to run when he won the overnight stakes here last month, but the fractions Saturday could turn dawdling. What speed there is has drawn on the outside, with Cosmonaut in post 12 and Thabazimbi in post 13.

"The good thing about him is he needs to be placed forwardly, but he does not need to be on the lead," said Cosmonaut's trainer, Phil Serpe.

Cosmonaut's try for three straight Arlington Handicap wins was derailed last year by Stream Cat, and he missed the second half of 2008 with an ankle problem. But here is another aging horse that still has strong desire.

"He's aggressive in what he does in the morning," said Serpe.

Cosmonaut could find himself leading through modest fractions, with Thabazimbi close behind. Thabazimbi has made just eight starts, and finished third last out after setting the pace in the 12-furlong Louisville Handicap. Thabazimbi is eligible for a second-level allowance, and trainer Bill Mott shows confidence by choosing another graded stakes.

Stream Cat won this race off a layoff in 2008, but was based then at Keeneland with trainer Rusty Arnold. Now he is back with trainer Patrick Biancone, who sent Stream Cat from California into the Arlington barn of his daughter, Marie Biancone, for two recent works.

Six-year-old Just as Well has only 16 starts, and missed more than a year because of injury. In the May 16 Dixie, he seemed to have Parading in his sights in midstretch, but fell a half-length short.

"I think he's a horse that when you first ask him to quicken, it takes him a little while," said Sheppard. "He kind of takes a little while to get going."

Stretching out to his longest distance in almost a year, Just as Well will have more time to run down the leaders Saturday - one old fellow hot on the heels of several others.