Updated on 09/16/2011 8:16AM

Ashraaf has star quality


CHICAGO - As the World Thoroughbred Championships draw ever nearer, Chicago's 2-year-old filly crop has begun to look like the strongest division at Arlington.

Two top fillies logged major workouts Monday, and on Saturday Godolphin Racing unveiled its most impressive runner of this meet, Ashraaf, whose 10 1/2-length win in a one-mile maiden race for 2-year-old fillies probably earned her a start in the Sept. 28 Arlington-Washington Lassie.

Ashraaf had raced twice in California, finishing fourth to Miss Houdini in her debut at Hollywood Park and a distant sixth to Santa Catarina in her most recent race at Del Mar. Miss Houdini and Santa Catarina later finished 1-2 in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.

Trainer Eoin Harty shipped Ashraaf to Arlington about 10 days ago, said assistant trainer Davey Duggan, hoping to cool her hot temperament and bring out the talent Harty had seen months ago.

"Eoin had talked about her all year," Duggan said. "He knew she had a lot of ability. She was having difficulties mentally in California. He thought a race here would be a better stepping-stone."

Godolphin pulled out all the stops to help Ashraaf have a positive experience Saturday. Duggan said the filly was ridden to the paddock in order to keep her calm, and she also was outfitted with a hood and ear mufflers for the first time. It all worked. Ashraaf kept her composure in the paddock and post parade, rated kindly behind the speed for jockey Frank Lovato, and took over the race with a powerful turn move. Ashraaf ran alone through the stretch and was on cruise control the final furlong.

Duggan said Ashraaf came back well from her win and should have little trouble wheeling back on two weeks' rest in the Lassie. "She doesn't take a whole lot of training," he said.

In the Lassie she will meet Souris, winner of the Top Flight Stakes here and 2 for 2 lifetime, and perhaps Caucus, whose one-mile maiden win looked like a standout performance. Souris and Caucus go about their training in entirely different ways, and the contrast was on display Monday when both breezed six furlongs. Souris, who never has worked fast and surprised her connections with her competitiveness in races, was timed in 1:15.40. Caucus, whose sharp works turned heads long before she made her career debut, went the same distance in 1:13, the fastest work at the distance by almost two seconds.

Trainer Mike Stidham said Caucus worked with other horses, rating behind them before finishing up well. Stidham said no decision has been made on whether to run Caucus in the Lassie or the Alcibiades at Keeneland.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Souris went "nice and smooth" and was on target for the one-mile Lassie, her first race beyond a sprint. "I'm more confident she'll get the mile now than I was two weeks ago," he said. "She's stronger and steadier."

What's next for Two Item Limit?

Also on Saturday, Two Item Limit got back on track with an easy four-length win over Illinois-breds in the Unique Type, a $42,000 overnight handicap at one mile on dirt. Stalking a quick pace set by Shemya, Two Item Limit took control coming off the turn and drew away in midstretch before jockey Rene Douglas geared her down sharply in the last 50 yards or so.

Coming off a poor race at Saratoga and with possible designs on the Breeders' Cup Distaff - where she finished third last year - Two Item Limit got just the sort of race trainer Steve DiMauro wanted for her. Even so, DiMauro did not commit Two Item Limit on Sunday to another Distaff start.

"I'm going to leave her at Arlington for a few days. I'm not sure what my final plans will be. I'll decide in a few days," DiMauro said.

DiMauro suggested that even if he passes the Breeders' Cup, Two Item Limit could make her next start at Arlington, perhaps in another overnight stakes race.