07/27/2011 12:48PM

Arlington Park: Top Surprize matures enough for Secretariat spot


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The 3-year-old colt Top Surprize has been finishing his Arlington turf races like a wild horse this summer, which makes sense, because Top Surprize is a wild horse.

Trainer Larry Rivelli and owner Richard Ravin claimed Top Surprize out of a $35,000 maiden-claiming loss at Gulfstream Park on April 8, with Rivelli having some inkling that Top Surprize would take some extra work.

“He was a handful,” said trainer Larry Rivelli. “He washed out, and they used to have to open the starting gate for him to go in. When I got him up here, he was throwing riders, trying to bite the pony. It could have gone either way with this horse.”

It has gone the right way. Top Surprize still can wind himself up into a frenzy. Before his win here July 3, he basically ran off with jockey Junior Alvarado for a half-mile after busting away from the post parade. But Top Surprize has settled down enough to let his talent come through, and on the strength of four straight turf wins at this meet, Top Surprize has earned a slot in the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 13.

“I hate to run horses in races where they don’t belong,” Rivelli said. “I think he warrants a shot in there.”

Top Surprize, a colt by Pure Prize, finished seventh and 10th in two $75,000 maiden-claimers to start his career, upon which he was dropped down to $35,000 by trainer Bill Mott. Rivelli ran Top Surprize in a $25,000 maiden-claimer after bringing the horse to Arlington, and Top Surprize hasn’t been challenged since. He thrashed a strong starter-allowance field on July 3, and last week galloped past decent older allowance horses with another powerful stretch run.

“He’s definitely figured it out,” Rivelli said. “I think he had the underlying talent there.”

Statebreds share features

Two Illinois-bred allowance races, a second-level Polytrack sprint and a first-level turf mile, highlight the Friday program here.

Just six fillies and mares were entered in the six-furlong, second-level main-track allowance carded as race 2. Springtime Spell, in career-best form, could return quick dividends for owner Tri-Star Racing and trainer Tim Ice, who claimed her for $10,000 on July 4. Shake N Quake and De Lica look like the other primariy contenders.

The turf allowance, race 8, looks more playable, with 10 horses entered and several directions bettors might turn. Peso won a maiden grass race June 12 by almost six lengths for trainer Michele Boyce and posted a recent bullet workout for his first start since then, while Fire Cloud gets a timely boost into the allowance race by owner-trainer Doug Matthews.