05/28/2012 3:38PM

Arlington: Virginia Derby summer goal for Silver Max

Four-Footed Fotos
Silver Max, winner of last Saturday's Arlington Classic, could make his next start in Indiana for the Oliver.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Silver Max stumbled at the start, set a hot pace, finished with great energy, and ran a fast race on a hot day winning the $125,000 Arlington Classic on Saturday, but trainer Dale Romans said Silver Max was showing no sign of fatigue upon his return to Romans’s Churchill Downs base.

“He came out of that race in really good shape,” Romans said Monday.

So good, in fact, that a fairly quick return for the $200,000 Oliver Stakes, a June 13 grass race at Indiana Downs, is being contemplated. Romans said the Oliver remains a possibility, but that the major summer goals for Silver Max will be the $600,000 Virginia Derby on July 21 at Colonial Downs and the Aug. 18 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. Silver Max, Romans said, is unlikely to start in the American Derby at Arlington if he proves able to keep to his connections’ desired schedule.

Silver Max now has won four races in a row after starting his career with five straight second-place finishes. He has yet to race beyond a middle distance on turf, and Silver Max is a confirmed front-runner, but given his strong recent finishes, Romans is feeling confident that Silver Max will handle longer trips in races like the Virginia Derby and the 10-furlong Secretariat.

“His real strength is his endurance, his ability to set a fast pace, and keep going,” said Romans. “He didn’t seem tired at all after Saturday’s race, and I don’t think it’s much of a question that he’ll go a mile and a quarter.”

Upperline may target Modesty

Upperline came out of her four-length Arlington Matron victory on Saturday in good shape, according to trainer and co-owner Mike Stidham, and is likely to put her surface-versatility to use later in the Arlington meet.

Upperline’s Matron win came on Polytrack, but the 5-year-old mare is at least as good on turf as synthetics, and, if things go as planned, could shift back to grass for a start in the $200,000 Modesty Handicap here on July 14.

“If she’s on top of her game after that, we’ll consider the Beverly D.,” said Stidham. “If we can stay home with her and not ship this summer, that’d be great.”

While Upperline has been going strong for a few months now, Willcox Inn, the best 3-year-old grass horse stabled at Arlington last summer, had his first work of 2012 on Saturday, going three furlongs on Polytrack. Willcox Inn, who won the Arlington Classic and American Derby last summer, hasn’t started since an eighth-place finish in the Hollywood Derby last fall.

“We just decided to give him some extra time,” Stidham said of Willcox Inn’s extended layoff. “He’s doing great, but he’s got a ways to go to get ready.”

If Willcox Inn progresses steadily, he could be pointed to the Arlington Handicap here on July 14.

And finally, Stidham appears to have a leading contender for the July 21 Arlington Oaks in Lady Candidate. Lady Candidate crushed a field of first-level allowance horses last week, winning a one-turn mile by more almost 14 lengths.

“The main thing with her is keeping her mentally and physically together, because she fell apart on us after a couple races last winter,” Stidham said. “We’re going to be real cautious and pick our spots carefully.”

Albarado named on two mounts Friday

Robby Albarado, who was cleared to ride by a Kentucky judge’s order last Friday, has mounts in two races on Friday, his first day of racing since moving his tack to Arlington. Both mounts are for trainer Scott Becker, who has long given business to Albarado’s agent, Jay Fedor.

Albarado was suspended by the Kentucky State Racing Commission earlier this month after he was arrested and charged with assault. The Kentucky judge stayed that suspension pending the commission providing Albarado’s attorneys with certain requested information and holding an administrative hearing.