08/24/2008 11:00PM

Baja Morning liable to like Polytrack


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Turf horses are supposedly likelier to make a smooth transition to an artificial main track than has historically been the case going turf to dirt. And if that all-weather handicapping theory holds, Baja Morning, the likely favorite, could be difficult to beat Wednesday at Arlington Park in the featured seventh race, a second-level allowance race for fillies and mares at six furlongs on Polytrack.

Baja Morning won her career debut about 13 months ago on Ellis Park dirt, and after going to the sidelines for the rest of 2007, she also made her first two starts this year on dirt, finishing third and fifth in a pair of Churchill Downs entry-level allowance races. But in June, trainer Eddie Kenneally switched Baja Morning to grass and got immediate improvement, with the filly coming out on top in a Churchill turf sprint. Baja Morning had only five rivals that day, but she validated the victory by finishing a close third here in a second-level turf-sprint allowance on July 16. The horse that won that race, Lucky Copy, returned with a really fast victory in a division of that Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million Day.

Baja Morning has since worked twice at Churchill, and if her recent grass form does indeed carry over to the main track, she stands a good chance of earning her third win. But this is by no means an assured outcome, and several others in race 7 appear competitive.

Start with Paddy Wak Wakie, who also goes turf to Polytrack, but unlike Baja Morning is a proven horse on the synthetic surface here. Sixth behind Baja Morning's third last month, Paddy Wak Wakie tried a division of the Hatoof, and that two-turn debut went poorly. Her Polytrack form is much better: Third in her first start this meet, she won an entry-level allowance race by more than three lengths in June.

Ripe Tomato has struggled in the six starts since being claimed from trainer Clayton Pierce, but current trainer Ron Goodridge has gotten on a little roll, and Ripe Tomato has encouraging recent workout.

Highness can't be overlooked. More a mid-level claiming horse last year, Highness has been kept in allowance company by trainer Roger Brueggemann this season with positive results. She won an entry-level race to start her season, and has been second or third in five of six second-level allowance tries this spring and summer, including a near-miss on July 31.