06/06/2012 1:06PM

Arlington: Stately Victor, despite back class, shaky proposition in feature


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Stately Victor rubbed shoulders with some of the big names in the sport last year. Winners of his last five starts include Wise Dan, St. Nicholas Abbey, and Acclamation, and excepting a dud in the Clark Handicap, Stately Victor did not embarrass himself against the high-end competition.

What he did not do, however, is win. Stately Victor’s last victory came in September 2010, and though he looks competitive in the featured fifth race Friday at Arlington, there are good reasons to wonder whether Stately Victor’s losing skein will drag on.

First is the quality of the competition, carded for 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack and open to third-level allowance runners or $80,000 claimers.

“That’s a pretty tough race there,” said trainer Wayne Catalano, who will saddle a Euro-import named Vertiformer for the first time.

Moreover, Arlington races at 8 1/2 furlongs end at the sixteenth pole. Stately Victor appears to do his best running at distances of 1 1/8 miles and greater. Getting him rolling in time to find the wire first with this short-stretch setup should prove challenging, though jockey Cisco Torres has been riding as well as anyone at the meet.

Catalano also wonders about Friday’s trip for Vertiformer, who rallied wide and into a slow pace to finish fourth in a good Keeneland turf race April 14, his first start in the U.S. Vertiformer’s French win on Fibresand, another synthetic surface, came at 1 3/16 miles, and his other two overseas victories were at nine and 10 furlongs.

“On paper, he’s a distance horse,” said Catalano, who took over Vertiformer’s training following his North American debut.

Forestry Type, doubled in claiming price after being taken for $40,000 out of his most recent race, will set the pace and is dangerous if left on his own out front, but Cool C Note, who scored a big main-track win here last summer, figures to keep him honest. Proceed Bee, drawn on the rail, might wind up getting the run of the race, and has 2 wins and a third from 3 Arlington Polytrack starts. Proceed Bee was a flat fourth at Indiana Downs on May 7 when making his first start after a layoff, but trainer Scott Becker said course conditions were to blame.

“That turf course was so hard, and he doesn’t like it hard at all,” said Becker. “But he does like the synthetic at Arlington.”