07/10/2013 4:00PM

Arlington Million Preview Day stakes mostly local affairs

Four-Footed Fotos
General Election will face several rivals he defeated in the Arlington Classic (above), when he runs Saturday in the American Derby.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The North American turf-racing season is in full swing. A horseman with a grass-stakes runner has his pick of races from coast to coast, and unless a racetrack has Grade 1 status or a fat purse to offer, the chance of luring high-class entrants from outside a region is slim.

So it is with the quartet of Grade 3 turf stakes on Saturday’s Million Preview Day card at Arlington, three worth $200,000 and the Stars and Stripes offering a $150,000 purse. Colonial Flag and Strathnaver for the Modesty, and Infinite Magic in the American Derby – all based in Maryland – are the only certain ship-ins from beyond the Midwest. New York-based Stormy Len also was entered in the American Derby, but his connections were scrambling to make the Wednesday flight that will transport the three Maryland horses to Chicago. The Arlington Handicap is the fourth Grade 3 stakes.

In all, there were 33 entrants when the Million Preview stakes were assembled Wednesday, though that number includes two horses, Suntracer and Mongolian Saturday, entered in two races on the card.

If Stormy Len actually ships, the American Derby, the local prep for the Grade 1 Secretariat, will have a likely field of 11 runners, the most of Saturday’s graded races. The race shapes up as basically a rerun of the May 25 Arlington Classic, with four of the first five finishers there – General Election, Admiral Kitten, Dorsett, and Procurement – entered in Saturday’s 1 3/16-mile race. General Election, the likely favorite off his turf-debut win in the Arlington Classic, drew post 2 and will be ridden by Joe Rocco, who is set up for a lucrative afternoon with a live mount on Colonial Flag in the Modesty. Mongolian Saturday, a sharp winner of two one-turn Polytrack races this meet, is part of the American Derby field, but was cross-entered in the $60,000 Coach Jimi Lee, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds on Polytrack.

The Arlington Handicap and the Modesty both drew only eight-horse fields, but these are solid Grade 3 races. The biggest name in the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Handicap is multiple Grade 1 winner Dullahan, though his trainer, Dale Romans, has made clear that this start is, as much as anything, a prep for a repeat bid in the Pacific Classic next month at Del Mar. The others in the Handicap, from the rail out, are Keep Up, Najjaar, Suntracer, Beer Garden, Rahystrada (a two-time winner of this race), Coalport, and Temeraine. Suntracer also was entered in the Stars and Stripes.

Besides the Maryland pair of Strathnaver and Colonial Flag – both of whom have an excellent chance to win – the Modesty field includes Embarr, Dame Marie, Ausus, La Tia, Artemus Kitten, and Madam Nancy. Illinois-bred La Tia, a speed horse with stamina, is the big local hope.

The 1 1/2-mile Stars and Stripes is the weak link in the series and would have six runners with Suntracer, five without him. Dark Cove should be a heavy favorite and is one of five stakes entrants on the day for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Ioya Bigtime and The Pizza Man both have a chance, but Live in Joy and, even more so, Doctor Trotter, are punching above their class.

The graded stakes, starting with the Stars and Stripes as race 7, will be run consecutively and are linked by a guaranteed $100,000 pick four.

Work All Week should air

To find the best horse on Friday’s nine-race twilight program, one need only look at the first horse in the first race of the day. That is Work All Week, who has a great chance to get back in the win column after taking a surprising loss as the 1-5 favorite in the June 8 Addison Cammack Stakes.

Work All Week, a 4-year-old City Zip gelding bred and owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds, got an unusual amount of attention for an Illinois-bred allowance horse this spring, due to back-to-back blowout sprint scores – first on dirt, then on Polytrack – that produced triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. But those big figs could not save Work All Week from the effects of a brutal speed duel in the Cammack. Fractions of 22.34 and 45.40 seconds on a dull main track sent Work All Week’s pace rival, Nagys Piggy Bank, reeling to a last-place finish. Work All Week held a 4 1/2-length lead at the stretch call but, burned out by the early battle, got tagged on the wire by upstart Sweet Luca.

No such fate awaits him in the Friday opener, but as the obvious speed and class of a six-horse second-level Polytrack sprint allowance, Work All Week figures to go to post at a price that will not keep anyone from having to work all week.

◗ Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg will be at Arlington on Saturday signing copies of his biography “Jack, From Grit to Glory.” Van Berg will be signing copies of the book, which can be purchased for $20, near the Arlington gift shop from 1-4 p.m.