07/02/2009 11:00PM

Big plans for Informed Decision

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Justin N. Lane
Informed Decision, unbeaten in three starts on Polytrack, looks formidable in the Chicago Handicap.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In May 2007, when Informed Decision sold at a Maryland 2-year-old in training auction, her sire, Monarchos, stood for only a $7,500 stud fee. Her dam, a His Majesty mare named Palangala, looked okay, not great. Yet Informed Decision sold for a whopping $320,000. Her trainer, Jonathan Sheppard, did not lay eyes on the filly until she was sent to him in mid-summer. Her initial works left Sheppard underwhelmed.

"To be honest, she didn't show a lot in her first breezes," Sheppard said.

Then, an assistant saw a photo of Informed Decision breezing at the sale. She was wearing blinkers, the assistant pointed out to Sheppard. On went the hood - and on went the light bulb.

Two summers later, Informed Decision has more than doubled that purchase price for owner George Strawbridge's Augustin Stable, and there may be more to come. Already a two-time Grade 1 winner this year at age 4, Informed Decision was en route Thursday from Pennsylvania to race here at Arlington Park on Saturday in the $150,000 Chicago Handicap. Sheppard said he believes the race will lead nicely into Saratoga, and from there, Informed Decision can set her sights on the Breeders' Cup and a possible Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter.

"She's a very, very fast horse," said Sheppard. "She's big and strong and powerful."

Informed Decision, who has breezed the last two Sundays at Presque Isle Downs after training at Sheppard's farm in eastern Pennsylvania, makes her fourth start on Polytrack, and if she loses, it will be for the first time on a synthetic surface. At Keeneland, she won an allowance race by more than six lengths and the Grade 2 Raven Run by more than four last year. April 9, she came back from a winter break to defeat top-class Ventura in the Grade 1 Madison. Then she won the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on the dirt at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.

Jockey Julien Leparoux could have ridden graded stakes in New York or at his Churchill base Saturday, but winds up here at Arlington on Informed Decision.

The 124-pound highweight, Informed Decision spots five rivals between nine and 11 pounds while racing over seven furlongs, at which she is 4 for 4.

"We're all running for second and third, I think," said trainer Chris Block, who sends out Choragus.

Woodbine invader Authenicat may be the second choice, with 6 wins and 4 second-place finishes in 16 synthetic-track starts. Unforgotten turns back from routes, and could actually be decently suited to a one-turn Poly race.