07/10/2012 4:02PM

Arlington Park: Daddy Nose best going back to turf

Barbara D. Livingston
Daddy Nose Best fared poorly in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – This is the time of summer when some 3-year-olds who were tried and found wanting in Triple Crown races start to find their way back to spots that better suit their natural capabilities, and Daddy Nose Best could be just such a horse.

After finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Preakness, Daddy Nose Best will return to turf, where he is a two-time winner, on Saturday at Arlington in the American Derby, trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed Tuesday.

Daddy Nose Best and Sachem Spirit would head a prospective field of 8 to 10 in the Grade 3, $200,000 American Derby, but only provided that Silver Max doesn’t run. Trainer Dale Romans has been considering several horses for the American Derby, which will be drawn Wednesday, among them Silver Max, whose recent blowout turf-stakes scores include a victory in the Arlington Classic.

The Grade 3, $200,000 American Derby is one of four turf stakes along with the Arlington Handicap, the Modesty Handicap, and the Stars and Stripes Stakes, composing Million Preview Day. Arlington draws its Saturday card on Wednesday.

Daddy Nose Best, a son of Scat Daddy, made 6 of his 8 starts last year on turf, but after wining winning the El Camino Real on a synthetic track, he was off to New Mexico, where a win in the Sunland Derby on dirt landed Daddy Nose Best in the Triple Crown. A darling of morning-training pundits during Derby week, Daddy Nose Best went evenly to finish 10th in the Derby, and he was worse at Pimlico, checking in more than 27 lengths behind victorious I’ll Have Another. Daddy Nose Best has breezed steadily – often on turf – since that performance, and a rebound here Saturday seems plausible.

Sachem Spirit could prove a formidable foe, having rallied to within two lengths of the brilliant Silver Max in the Arlington Classic on May 26. Others expected to be entered are Skyring, Southern Parkway, The Pizza Man, and Macho Bull.

The Arlington Handicap could come up a decent race, with Boisterous expected in from New York for trainer Shug McGaughey. Boisterous won the Ft. Marcy and was third in the Manhattan in his two most recent starts. Another New Yorker, Sky Blazer, was a very sharp last-start allowance winner for Barclay Tagg, and the Arlington Handicap could also draw 2010 winner Rahystrada. Others considered likely runners are Mister Marti Gras, Nikki’s Sandcastle, Proceed Bee, Vertiformer, and Cherokee Lord.

Expected for the Modesty, the local Beverly D. prep, are Upperline, Bizzy Caroline, Romacaca, Smart Sting, Snow Top Mountain, Trac N Jam, and She’s All In.

Musketier, the 10-year-old who scored an exciting victory over stablemate Simmard in the June 24 Singspiel at Woodbine, is expected to ship for the 1 1/2-mile Stars and Stripes. Other anticipated entrants are Eagle Poise, who was nosed out of a win in the San Juan Capistrano, Joinem, Harrods Creek, Final Count, Free Fighter, and perhaps one or two others.

Saint Leon staying home

Saint Leon never has been a horse to travel. Since Michele Boyce started training him in 2009, he has run only out of his own stall, be that at Arlington or Hawthorne. And even a win last Saturday in the $100,000 Arlington Sprint doesn’t have Boyce inclined to alter that dynamic.

“My tendency would be to stay local with him,” Boyce said. “I feel too many horses are injured because people get too high off a single win, and with a 7-year-old gelding, I’d have to have someone really convince me. Besides, I don’t see him as a good shipper. He’s a very high-strung horse, and I think it would knock him out to be shipped, especially in the summer.”

Saint Leon’s owner, Margaret Burlingame, was a member of a partnership that campaigned Saint Leon early in his career. At some point the horse fractured a cannon bone and had surgery, according to Boyce (who didn’t train him at the time), but even after his operation Saint Leon wasn’t doing well. He was claimed from Burlingame’s group for $5,000 on July 11, 2009 at Mountaineer Park, but a distraught Burlingame took Saint Leon back for the same price less than three weeks later, turning him over to Boyce with instructions to give Saint Leon as much time as his body needed to heal, even if that meant the end of his racing career.

“If he would’ve kept on that same path, I think he’d be dead today,” Boyce bluntly said.

About a year later, Saint Leon made it back to the races, winning four straight starts on turf and Polytrack, and during his time in Boyce’s barn, he has won 8 races from 14 starts while earning more than $200,000.

“He’s taken good care of us,” said Boyce. “We should do the same for him.”

Stidham pair vulnerable

A pair of second-level sprint allowance races also open to $40,000 claimers – one on turf, the other on Polytrack – highlight Thursday’s nine-race card.

The grass race, the eighth, is the more interesting of the two. Distortionada, trained by Mike Stidham, looks like the favorite, though Stidham’s other entrant, Sweet Miss Avery, exits an Arlington turf-sprint win. But with the turf rail moved to its outermost position, where speed often does well, comebacking Retail Reger has a chance to lead all the way at a price.