08/12/2011 3:20PM

Arlington: Turf filly's arrival gives Proctor a boost

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. − Trainer Tom Proctor was to send out 3-year-old grass standout Banned on Saturday in the Secretariat Stakes, and Proctor might have a 3-year-old grass filly for a stakes race later this Arlington meet.

Marketing Mix, a thimble-sized Medaglia d’Oro filly, was a highly impressive winner of her turf debut July 31 restricted Wonder Where Stakes at Woodbine, and she has taken up residence with Proctor’s small Arlington string. Proctor said Marketing Mix could make her next start in the Pucker Up Stakes here Sept. 17.

Marketing Mix, an Ontario-bred owned by Glen Hill Farm, won her maiden in a sprint race during the Keeneland spring meet before moving into Ontario-bred stakes competition at Woodbine. Second, third, and fourth in Polytrack stakes there, Marketing Mix took a nice step forward when switched to turf for the Wonder Where, drawing away to beat nine rivals by 4 3/4 lengths.

“Looking at her turf race, you’d have to think she can compete in open company,” Proctor said.

Also among Proctor’s horses at Arlington is Keertana, an excellent grass mare who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last fall and has won three long-distance graded turf stakes in 2011. Keertana hasn’t started since beating males May 28 in the Louisville Handicap and hasn’t posted a timed workout since June 14.

“She just needed a little time after her last race,” Proctor said, “and I thought I’d give it to her during the hot summer months.”

Proctor said Keertana isn’t yet galloping, and he put no timetable on a possible comeback.

“We’ll let her tell us when she’s ready,” Proctor said. “I’m a horse listener, not a horse whisperer.”

Shrewd Operator ready to work again

Shrewd Operator, the Illinois-bred sprinter who earned a 114 Beyer Speed Figure last time out, is set to resume breezing after getting time off because of a foot problem, trainer Chris Block said Friday.

Shrewd Operator, who has battled a chronic tendon problem, returned from a long layoff June 25 in the Prairie State Festival and won the White Oak Handicap by nine lengths, a performance that produced a 114 Beyer, one of the top numbers anywhere in North America this year. Shrewd Operator hasn’t returned to the worktab since the race, but it was another injury – a grabbed quarter – that has caused the delay.

“Ten days after he ran, I came to the barn in the morning, and he’d somehow grabbed his quarter overnight,” Block said. “He was out of training three weeks. It’s not all the way healed, but it’s getting there.”

Block said Shrewd Operator might make his next start at Keeneland, with an Illinois-bred dirt-sprint stakes at Hawthorne this fall also in the plans.

Ann of the Dance could be tougher on turf

By one-time turf champion English Channel, Ann of the Dance is bred to be a grass horse. And if she shows more in Sunday’s featured eighth race − an entry-level, one-mile turf allowance for 2-year-olds − than she did sprinting on Polytrack in her career debut, she should be tough to beat.

Trained by Jim DiVito, Ann of the Dance cost $2,500 at a 2010 auction but won June 18 in a $40,000 maiden claimer, flying home late to go from a distant fifth at the stretch call to a one-length victory. DiVito has kept her on a steady work pattern since while pointing for a turf race, and with ample speed to set up her late run Sunday, Ann of the Dance could easily make it two straight for DiVito, jockey Diego Sanchez, and owner William Cox.

Ann of the Dance faces males Sunday, but this is the time of year when 2-year-old fillies often are more advanced than their male counterparts.

Also entered is Curfew Tower, who finished third last out in the Chenery Stakes at Colonial Downs and seems to be developing an ability to rate and rally.

◗ Larry Rivelli has opened a five-win lead in the trainers’ standings this meet and leads Scott Becker, 31-26, after Thursday’s racing.

◗ The jockeys’ race continues to be tight, with Jozbin Santana holding a 51-50 lead over James Graham entering Friday’s action. Eddie Perez has 45 wins, E.T. Baird has 42, and Junior Alvarado continues to close ground on the top spot with 41 wins.