08/09/2012 4:15PM

Arlington Park: Illinois Owners Stakes next up for Hooh Why

Barbara D. Livingston
Now 6, the well-traveled Hooh Why will be making her eighth start of the year in the Illinois Owners Stakes.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – It gets old seeing horses not yet into the prime of their career rushed off to retirement. That’s one way of doing things. And then there’s the Hooh Why way.

Hooh Why won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes in April 2009 but more than three years later still is going strong. At age 6, she’s won 11 of 42 starts while earning more than $1 million. The mare has ventured to nine different racetracks from California to Florida to Canada, and even at this late stage of her career has made seven starts at five different venues already in 2012.

Hooh Why races at Arlington Park on Saturday, where she should be one of the favorites in the female division of the $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile grass race that drew a competitive field of seven.

Hooh Why, a daughter of the modest sire Cloud Hopping, was bred in Florida by Gail Gee, who co-owned the mare with Mark Hoffman until her unexpected death in 2010. Hoffman hauls Hooh Why around himself and has a hand in much of her day-to-day activity, but Hooh Why races at Arlington for trainer Mike Reavis. She won the 2011 Illinois Owners by 1  1/4 lengths in her only previous start on the Arlington turf course, and exits a second in the Grade 3 Ontario Matron at Woodbine behind Stars to Shine, an expected runner in next weekend’s Grade 1 Beverly D.

But Hooh Why has a very worthy rival in Cumulonimble, a Wayne Catalano-trained mare who has won all four of her starts on the Arlington turf. In her most recent start, on June 16, Cumulonimble cruised to a three-length victory in the Lincoln Heritage Stakes, and a similar performance might be too much even for Hooh Why to handle.

Peyote Patty and Katie the Lady – and even, to a lesser extent, All for Thee and Pathway – are not without hope, either.

Mr. Mischief dangerous on the lead

Mr. Mischief went to the lead, set a moderate pace, and never was seriously challenged when he won the Black Tie Affair Handicap on the Arlington turf course June 16, and it’s not hard to envision a similar scenario Saturday in the $100,000 male division of the Illinois Owners.

Ridden by noted pace jockey E.T. Baird, Mr. Mischief – on paper, at least – has no real pace rival. He failed to make the lead and finished an even third in a July 22 open allowance won by high-quality Willcox Inn, but that race might’ve been no more than a prep for Saturday’s richer spot.

Mr. Mischief, though, will have to be back at his very best to prevail. Suntracer has come back to his better form after suffering a serious eye injury over the winter at Fair Grounds that disjointed his entire routine for months. In the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes on July 14 he rallied strongly to finish third, his best showing since 2011, but the Stars and Stripes was contested at 1 1/2 miles, and Suntracer might need to start rolling sooner to catch Mr. Mischief at 1 1/16 miles.

Princeville Condo was a close second in the 2011 edition of this race and has always run well on the Arlington turf, but he makes his first start since October. Tazz exits what might have been the best race of his career, an open allowance race win over graded-stakes-class Workin for Hops here July 1.

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