09/09/2008 11:00PM

Base Commander gets a shot


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Just a few weeks ago, Todd Pletcher bemoaned the lack of local main-track opportunities for the talented Arlington-based sprinter Base Commander. Well, it might not be a stakes race, but on Friday, Base Commander gets his chance.

Base Commander was one of seven horses entered in a seven-furlong Polytrack race open to third-level allowance horses or $50,000 claimers. It would be perfect for Base Commander, but to take advantage of the favorable spot, he will have to beat Mighty Rule, the top Illinois-bred sprinter in training.

Base Commander has had a stop-and-start career. He debuted in September 2006 with a narrow loss in a Turfway Park maiden race and didn't race again until the next June. Last September, Base Commander finished strongly and just missed winning the Kentucky Cup Sprint but wasn't seen again until July, when he won a second-level Polytrack allowance race at Arlington.

Base Commander's first six starts came on Polytrack, and Pletcher sounded more resigned than enthused the week of the Arlington Sprint, which marked Base Commander's grass debut. Indeed, Base Commander never got involved in the race, breaking slowly and checking in ninth of 10.

Base Commander has won at six furlongs, but he shows signs of being a better horse in longer sprints, and the seven-furlong trip should agree with him Friday. Mighty Rule, on the other hand, seems less certain to carry his best form through the longer distance, but he will certainly give it his best. This game 5-year-old has made 19 starts in his career and only twice has he finished worse than third.

One of those losses came Aug. 23 in the Arlington Sprint, where Mighty Rule still ran on decently to finish fifth, a few lengths in front of Base Commander. But Mighty Rule probably is a better horse on Polytrack, where he has never finished worse than second in five races, than on turf, where he has a 1-1-2 record in 5 starts. Mighty Rule breaks from the rail under Chris Emigh, with Base Commander and Rene Douglas in gate 2.

Mountain Stag enters in top form, but Base Commander ran past him with little trouble on July 4. Live from Apollo flopped Aug. 2 in a Prairie Meadows dirt stakes, but won a second-level allowance here in May. Papa won two straight earlier in the meet, but regressed in an Aug. 9 overnight stakes.