08/19/2010 11:51AM

Beverly D. becomes even more wide-open with scratch of Rainbow View

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Acoma (3), winning last fall's Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, is among a half-dozen legitimate contenders in Saturday's Beverly D.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The Arlington Million has Gio Ponti. The Secretariat has Paddy O’Prado. And the Beverly D. has . . . um . . .

Your call. Definitely your call. For as orderly as favoritism appears for the Million and Secretariat, chaos reigns for horseplayers attempting to get a handle on the third Grade 1 event Saturday at Arlington Park, the 21st running of the $750,000 Beverly D.

“I’ve looked over the race a few times, and there are maybe six or seven fillies that can win it, easily,” said David Carroll, who trains Acoma, one of the nine starters in the 1 3/16-mile turf race. “It’s probably going to come down to who gets the best trip.”

Indeed, all week here, talk about the Beverly D. has focused on how wide open it is. Rainbow View had been the nominal favorite on the Arlington morning line, but then, somebody had to be; she was listed at 4-1, followed in quick order by six more horses in the 9-2 to 8-1 range.

Even with Rainbow View having been scratched from the race Thursday afternoon because of a tendon injury, the Beverly D. remains a real head-scratcher.

If there is a lively pace – and the presence of Romacaca, a local filly exiting shorter events, would seem to assure that – then any of a number of hard-closing fillies, such as Acoma, rate solid chances.

Carroll said Acoma “is doing as well as I can expect,” and if the Churchill Downs-based mare can run her best race, “I really think we can be right there. I’d expect we’d be laying mid-pack, and if the pace is legitimate, we’ll be fine.”

Other strong contenders include Hot Cha Cha, winner of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup last fall; Eclair de Lune, a German-bred filly representing owner Richard Duchossois and trainer Ron McAnally; Ave, a British import who narrowly missed a first North American victory with a big rally in a recent Grade 2 race in Canada; and Treat Gently, a winner of her last two starts, both East Coast graded races.

Hot Cha Cha has been very consistent throughout her 16-race career and has been pointed to the Beverly D. for months by trainer Phil Sims. She was most recently third in the Modesty.

Eclair de Lune, aside from the sentimental angle involving Duchossois, 88, and McAnally, 78, is a terrific prospect, having been a sharp second in the Modesty in her third North American try.

Ave, trained by Canadian legend Roger Attfield, was a group winner in her homeland and showed a tremendous turn of foot in a narrow defeat in the Dance Smartly at Woodbine last month.

Treat Gently, a Juddmonte Farms homebred, had only been tentatively considered for the Beverly D. by her Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, before the decision finally was made to send her here from New York on the strength of her back-to-back scores in the Sheepshead Bay at Belmont and the Robert Dick Memorial at Delaware.

Kent Desormeaux, the Hall of Fame jockey who has the mount on Treat Gently, is going for his third victory in a row in the Beverly D., having won in 2008 on Mauralakana and last year aboard Dynaforce. Desormeaux also won the race in 1992 aboard Kostroma.

Rounding out the Beverly D. field are Gypsy’s Winner, a Group 1 winner in her native South Africa; Romacaca, the speedy local hope; and a pair of European invaders, Pachattack and Biased, both exiting non-group races in England and France, respectively.

The Beverly D., like the other two International Festival of Racing events, also would have had a clear-cut favorite this year in Tuscan Evening, whose victory in the Modesty was her sixth in a row in a graded race. But Tuscan Evening died suddenly Aug. 8 after a morning workout at Del Mar.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said Rainbow View was discovered with inflammation in her left front tendon before shipping Thursday morning from Presque Isle Downs. It was not known whether the injury would force the filly to be retired.

The Beverly D. goes as the ninth of 12 Saturday races and directly precedes the Million, with post time set for 4:24 p.m. Central.