08/11/2011 2:33PM

Arlington Park: Hatoof packed with possibilities


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – As if picking the winners of the three International Festival of Racing events doesn’t look hard enough, Arlington Park has front-ended those Grade 1 events with a couple of races that appear sure to heighten the degree of difficulty in your multi-race gimmicking.

The $65,000 Hatoof Stakes, which leads off an all-stakes pick four as the seventh of 10 Saturday races, drew an oversubscribed field of 3-year-old fillies in what looks like a real head-scratcher. Arlington is guaranteeing a 50-cent pick four pool of $200,000, with the Arlington Million (race 10) being the final leg.

In addition, the 50-cent pick five (races 6-10) pool is guaranteed at $100,000, and the race that kicks it off is no bargain, either, with a full field of well-matched $7,500 claiming sprinters serving as an instant vexer.

The Hatoof (post time, 3:19 p.m. Central), a one-mile turf race named for the winner of the 1994 Beverly D., has the rail-drawn Christophe Clement-trained filly, Race to Urga, as a lukewarm program favorite, but there are all kinds of attractive alternatives. One of those, Notassharpasuthink, comes off a nose defeat in a four-horse photo in the $137,000 Indiana Distaff last month at Indiana Downs.

Notassharpasuthink “is an improving filly,” said her trainer, Tom Amoss. “I’m just hopeful that her last two races, which were just a couple weeks apart, don’t cause her to regress.”

Race to Urga, with Ramon Dominguez to ride, comes off a sharp maiden win over the Belmont Park turf, an effort that looks good enough to recommend her. Others with similar credentials and numbers include Safe Crossing, Happy Choice, Jordy Y, and Holidaysatthefarm.

One interesting longshot is Lily Again, who adds blinkers, Lasix, and jockey Jamie Spencer after a so-so American debut last month on the Arlington Polytrack.

“I expected her to run a big race there, but she just didn’t,” said her trainer, Eddie Kenneally. “We’ve made some changes, and she’ll be back on the grass, which is her preferred surface, so I’m looking for a much better effort this time.”

The sixth race (post, 2:50) has a 3-1 morning-line favorite in No Song N Dance, trained by Larry Rivelli, the current leader atop the Arlington standings.

Both the sixth and seventh races are carded with 12 main-body runners and two also-eligibles to ensure depth in the case of early scratches.