07/07/2011 3:00PM

Arlington: Wasted Tears threat up front in Modesty

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Wasted Tears almost purrs like a cat when the insides of her ears are scratched. Touch her belly, though, and her ears pin straight back. At the first sight and sound of the commuter train that passes just north of the Arlington backstretch, Wasted Tears didn’t even lift her head from grazing.

How does owner-trainer Bart Evans know all these things? Because he bred and raised Wasted Tears himself and has been hauling her around the country the last couple of years, winning major grass races with her along the road. Evans and Wasted Tears took a two-day trip from Texas to Arlington last week, and Wasted Tears is all set to start as the likely favorite here Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Modesty Handicap.

The Modesty is one of three graded turf stakes on Arlington’s Million Preview Day. The Modesty goes as race 8, followed immediately by the Grade 2, $200,000 American Derby and the Grade 3, $100,000 Arlington Handicap. Saturday’s weather is forecast to be clear and dry but hot, and the grass course should be quite firm. Arlington will utilize an inner and outer course during the day, with all three stakes to be run around the wider oval, lane 5. Front-runners often do well under such a configuration, and that would make Wasted Tears especially formidable.

Wasted Tears has won 12 of 17 starts on grass at venues as diverse as Del Mar and Keeneland, and she does her best work on the front end. She set a swift early pace May 30 at Lone Star making her seasonal debut in the Ouija Board, then cruised to a five-length victory while eased up late. By Najran, Wasted Tears never has raced beyond 1 1/8 miles, but she won her only start over that distance and seems likely to see out the 1 3/16 miles of the Modesty if left alone on the lead.

“I thought it was a good time to try this,” Evans said. “If it works out, it’d be nice to run in the Beverly D.”

Evans, whose family ranches around Midland, Texas, started off with polo horses before getting into racing. He has a 16-horse string at Lone Star now but spent a good part of last year traveling with Wasted Tears. Wasted Tears’s seven starts in 2010 came at five venues, but she is freshened up during each winter in the wheat fields of the Evans’s ranch, and travelling clearly does not faze her.

“She ships good” said Evans. “She doesn’t care where she is.”

Wasted Tears got in a three-furlong turf work Wednesday despite her rider’s iron breaking off early in the breeze. Her bay coat is glowing, she is carrying a fine amount of weight, and Wasted Tears should be difficult to beat Saturday.

The Jonathan Sheppard-trained Fantasia, winless in three starts this year but solid in all of them, looks like the second choice. Like Wasted Tears, Fantasia has generally been kept to shorter turf distances. Unlike Wasted Tears, she races from behind.

My Baby Baby enters in excellent form and has hit a career peak at age 6 while racing without any medication and in foal to Curlin. “I’m not sure how long into the summer we’re going to run her, but she’s doing better than I’ve ever seen,” said trainer Ken McPeek.