09/23/2011 1:25PM

Arlington: Pachattack to make next start in Spinster


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Closing day of Arlington Park’s 2011 meeting is Sunday. The season is not completely going out with a whimper, but with no stakes closing weekend and a modest second-level allowance race headlining the Sunday card, there’s no real bang, either.

But as Arlington-ites begin to look ahead to next year, English trainer Gerard Butler can look back upon is grand 2011 experiment, which involved the unusual move of sending a string of English horses to train at Arlington and race throughout the eastern half of North America this summer. The results of that experiment were at least moderately successful – with the best, perhaps, still to come.

Several of Butler’s shippers underperformed − Beauchamp Viceroy and Joe le Taxi come to mind − but Pachattack, the stable star, easily won the Arlington Matron over Polytrack early in the summer and more recently finished second in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga, her dirt debut. Pachattack is headed back to Polytrack to start in the Spinster Stakes on Oct. 9 at Keeneland, Butler said Friday, but a return to dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic will be considered if she runs to form in the Spinster.

“Whether she ran right up to the way she ran in the Matron is hard to know,” Butler said of the Saratoga performance. “It probably was not all that different. I think there are still a few more pounds to improve this year. The track [at Saratoga] was deep that day, and I think it caught up to us the last eighth of a mile.”

Pachattack is scheduled to work this weekend at Arlington and again next weekend before shipping out to Keeneland.

While Pachattack already has tested dirt, 4-year-old filly Maristar is scheduled to make her dirt debut Oct. 8 in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. Maristar was a very unlucky third − placed second after Workin for Hops’s disqualification − facing males in the Washington Park Handicap last out, and she might have won the race had she not been stopped cold in the final half-furlong.

“I have no problem with her taking on colts,” Butler said. “She’s a big, strong filly.”

While Maristar will do all her pre-Gold Cup work on Polytrack, she has been to Hawthorne for a gallop on dirt, and Butler said the manner in which Maristar moved over the surface impressed him. Should Maristar run well in the Gold Cup, she, too, would be considered for a start in the BC Ladies’ Classic.

Butler went back and forth between England and Chicago many times this summer, but the hectic schedule has not deterred him, and Butler, a one-time Wayne Lukas assistant, said he was likely to return to Arlington next summer. In the meantime, Butler said he is seriously considering stabling a winter string at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland and racing at Aqueduct through the winter. The man, clearly, enjoys a challenge.

Tajaaweed points to Shadwell Mile

The more trainer Dan Peitz ponders the performances of 6-year-old Tajaaweed, the more he wonders if the horse isn’t more of a mile to 1 1/8-mile type than one who really wants to run 1 1/4 miles, as he has done with little success in the last two editions of the Arlington Million. With that in mind, Peitz said he is pointing Tajaaweed to the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile on Oct. 8 at Keeneland. Should Tajaaweed find longshot success there, the race sponsor would have the honor of handing itself a trophy, since Tajaaweed runs for the Shadwell Stable of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum; Shadwell Farm manager Rick Nichols is listed as the principal on Shadwell’s U.S. starters.

“Maybe this horse wants to run a little shorter,” said Peitz. “I think he will get the distance it if he gets enough pace.”

Tajaaweed won the Arlington Handicap earlier in the meet before finishing sixth in the Million while racing over a course softer than he prefers. Peitz will be looking for firm going at Keeneland.

On another front, talented 3-year-old filly Arienza has returned from an injury layoff that has sidelined her since the Oaklawn meet and is breezing at Churchill Downs while under the care of trainer Steve Margolis. Peitz said Arienza had come back into training at Churchill because owner Robert Low preferred the filly’s daily exercise take place on dirt rather than Polytrack. Arienza will rejoin Peitz’s barn later in the fall, Peitz said.

◗ The race for leading jockey this season could come down to Sunday’s finale. James Graham held a 78-75 win lead over Jozbin Santana entering Friday’s action, with Junior Alvarado still lurking in third with 72 wins.