05/30/2011 12:26PM

Arlington: Pachattack prefers Polytrack, but will target Beverly D.

Michael Burns
Pachattack, winning the Maple Leaf Stakes at Woodbine, will switch from Polytrack to turf for the Beverly D. at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – If the Beverly D. Stakes were contested on Arlington’s all-weather racing surface, Pachattack would be the horse to beat. The Beverly D., of course, is a turf race, but Pachattack still has that Aug. 13 race as her major summer goal, according to trainer Gerard Butler.

Pachattack, a 5-year-old Pulpit mare, was utterly dominant Saturday in the Arlington Matron, which she won by five lengths while under little urging. Pachattack is a three-time winner on turf and performs competently on grass, but all-weather racing seems to be her forte, especially in North America. The Matron was Pachattack’s second such race; last summer, she won the $186,000 Maple Leaf at Woodbine by almost six lengths.

“I’d probably rate her five pounds better on all-weather,” Butler said shortly after Pachattack’s galloping Matron win.

Pachattack is one of six horses brought over from Butler’s home base in England for the Arlington meet, and she has settled in nicely here.

“She loves this surface,” Butler said. “She’s been training very, very nicely here.”

But rich all-weather races for mares are scarce in these parts this time of year. The Beverly D., on the other hand, offers a $750,000 purse, and Butler will point Pachattack to that race via a prep in the $150,000 Modesty Handicap here July 9. Pachattack lost any chance in the 2010 Beverly D. when she failed to break in a timely fashion, but she left the gate without incident on Saturday.

Butler, meanwhile, will send his talented 3-year-old Burj Alzain on the road for his next start. Burj Alzain was narrowly beaten by the tough older horse Dehnam in a one-turn-mile Polytrack race last week, and, for now, Butler will stick to synthetic racing, with Burj Alzain penciled in for the Victoria Park Stakes, a June 12 Polytrack race for 3-year-olds at Woodbine. If all goes as planned, Burj Alzain will get his shot on turf in the American Derby here July 9.

Willcox Inn likely for American Derby

The addition of blinkers and a return to grass racing got Willcox Inn back on track Saturday, when he won the Arlington Classic by more than two lengths, and trainer Mike Stidham hopes Willcox Inn can make all three races in Arlington’s Mid-America Triple. That loosely linked series of 3-year-old grass stakes continues with the July 9 American Derby and concludes with the $400,000 Secretariat on Aug. 13.

Willcox Inn, who beat Animal Kingdom in their common career debut over Polytrack here late last season, had most recently finished eighth over Keeneland’s synthetic surface in the Blue Grass Stakes. Willcox Inn races decently on all-weather surfaces, but Stidham said he has thought all along that grass racing would prove most suitable to Willcox Inn, who is by Harlan’s Holiday and from a heavily turf-oriented female family.

“My belief from the beginning was grass was his home,” Stidham said. “If you look at his pedigree, it’s one turf horse after another.”

Stidham said he added blinkers to Willcox Inn’s race-day equipment because the colt had lacked focus during the middle portion of his races. Saturday, Willcox Inn broke sharply and pressed the pace, and had plenty of run in the stretch despite pulling hard down the backstretch. He galloped out well in front of his rivals, and may prove even more effective at longer distances in the American Derby and Secretariat.

“The farther the better for him,” said Stidham.

Jockeys balk at riding during thunderstorms

Arlington’s cancellation of the last eight races on its program came after a lengthy battle between a faction of the jockey colony and track management, which thought the card could continue.

Strong thunderstorms with heavy rain passed through northern Illinois late Sunday morning and in the early afternoon, and Sunday’s second race was delayed close to an hour because riders were concerned about lightening strikes. There was another delay following race 2, after which Arlington announced that the rest of the program had been called off because jockeys refused to ride. One rider, who didn’t want his name used, said the issue was weather and had nothing to do with the condition of Arlington’s Polytrack. But there were no more storms following the cancellation, and track management thought the program could have been completed after the storms had cleared the area.

“We felt the weather would continue to get better, which it did, but the jockeys felt otherwise,” general manager Tony Petrillo said in a statement. “We are deeply disappointed in their decision.”

Nakatani accepting mounts at Arlington

Corey Nakatani is moving his tack – at least temporarily – from California to Chicago, and is named to ride horses here on Wednesday.

Nakatani will team up with agent Jay Fedor, who has booked mounts for him at Oaklawn Park in the past. Junior Alvarado, Fedor’s primary rider (he also represents veteran Eddie Razo), broke his collarbone in a fall on Friday, and is expected to be out of action for at least one month. Fedor said Nakatani has tentative plans to move on to Saratoga later in the summer.

Nakatani is in the midst of a modest meeting at Hollywood Park, where he had ridden two winners from 26 mounts through Friday’s action there.

◗ Suraj Narredu, the 26-year-old Indian jockey who began riding at Arlington last week, scored his first win in the United States in Sunday’s first race, guiding 9-1 Invisible Star to victory for trainer Alnaz Ali. Narredu reportedly rode more than 1,000 winners in his homeland.