09/05/2012 4:28PM

Arlington: Lassie gets 15 entrants, Futurity only 8

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Middie winning the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap, will run next in an allowance on opening week at Keeneland.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The connections of so many 2-year-old fillies had designs on the Arlington-Washington Lassie that one of them had to switch to the Arlington-Washington Futurity to find a spot to race here Saturday.

The Lassie drew an overflow field of 15 entrants, and with only seven horses entered in the Futurity, the connections of Scissortail G stuck her in that race instead. The addition of the filly brought the Futurity field up to just eight. Both races are contested over a one-turn mile on Polytrack.

Scissortail G, a Donnie Von Hemel-trained Oklahoma-bred maiden filly, will be up against at least two colts of considerable promise. Pataky Kid broke slowly and finished a distant third in his career debut at Churchill Downs, but the winner of that race, Sky Captain, has talent, and Pataky Kid broke through in his second start with a flashy closing kick Aug. 9 at Arlington. The horse who finished second in that race, Tulira Castle, returned to impressively win a maiden race.

“He’s always acted like he could run some,” said Tom Proctor, who trains Pataky Kid, a Rockport Harbor colt, for Swifty Farms.

Tulira Castle is trained by Jim DiVito, who has the unbeaten Muppet Man for the Futurity. The others in the entry box were Glenco Kid, Mylute, Stormin Monarcho, Ultimo Trago, and Urban Renewal.

The Lassie got so many entrants in part because no horses as apparently talented as Pataky Kid and Muppet Man are involved. Gold Edge won Arlington’s overnight stakes prep for the Lassie but did so by beating a maiden by only a half-length. Gold Edge should be challenged for favoritism Saturday by Flying Rapunzel, a Wayne Catalano-trained maiden winner, and Sweet Redemption, who won a $150,000 Woodbine Stakes in the only start of her career. The rest of the Lassie field is American Sugar, Bethany Belle, Bridgette Bordeaux, Custody, Dancing Elliebelle, Pappascat, Quiet Success, You Bought Her, Love Me Good, Dancinginthecircle, and La Song.

Middie points to allowance at Keeneland

Middie won the Sept. 1 Washington Park Handicap, his first stakes score, at odds of 14-1, but his commanding victory might not have been a fluke.

Middie, a 4-year-old gelding by Officer, has made 16 starts in his career, but 12 of those races were on turf and another on a wet dirt track. Middie has made only two starts going two turns on Polytrack, and he impressively won both of those, capturing a Keeneland entry-level allowance last fall at odds of 44-1, and beating the established graded-stakes performer Mister Marti Gras by 3 1/4 lengths here last weekend, a performance that produced a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, by far the best of Middie’s career.

“I honestly didn’t expect him to run that good,” said Keeneland-based trainer Phil Oliver. “I wasn’t actually planning on going into that race, but his last work before we sent him up there was pretty good, so we just took a little bit of a shot. I knew Mister Marti Gras would be tough to beat, but I thought there were holes in the other ones.”

Oliver said Middie had taken his race well and will point his Polytrack lover to a main-track allowance opening week of the Keeneland meet in October. If Middie runs back to his Washington Park form there, he will earn a slot in the Fayette Stakes near the end of Keeneland’s fall season, Oliver said.

Rahystrada preps for Kentucky Cup Turf

Rahystrada still isn’t much showing his age. Less than two weeks after finishing in a dead heat for third while making his third straight appearance in the Arlington Million, 8-year-old Rahystrada was back on the work tab at the Thoroughbred Training Center near Lexington, Ky. The gelding breezed a half-mile in 52 seconds last Friday and is on track to defend his title in the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf on Sept. 15, trainer Scooter Hughes said Wednesday.

“He came out of the Million really well,” Hughes said. “We’ll work again this weekend and hopefully have everything tuned up and ready to go for the race at Kentucky Downs.”

Rahystrada won the 2011 Kentucky Cup Turf by almost four lengths as an odds-on favorite. Hughes said there was a chance Rahystrada could make one more start in 2012, but the only race he said would be considered for is the River Cities in November at Churchill Downs. Plans call for Rahystrada to get a winter break and return to race again next year at age 9.