05/08/2007 12:00AM

Busy weekend at windows


CHICAGO - There aren't perfect comparisons between the first short week of Arlington Park's 2006 and 2007 meets, but put it this way - Arlington chairman Dick Duchossois's face wore a broad smile Saturday afternoon.

Arlington drew a crowd of 10,561 fans for Friday's opening day, and 21,117 more on Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day, and enthusiasm from the people ran high. It was impossible not to notice the number of blanket finishes on Arlington's new Polytrack surface, and the crowds responded with an enthusiasm starkly absent from last year's troubled Arlington season.

"They seemed to be more into the racing," said veteran Arlington trainer Chris Block. "That was more a crowd over the weekend that was there to watch the racing."

They bet pretty well, too. Last year, Arlington had nine-race cards during its Friday-Saturday-Sunday opening week, and this year, with the advent of the early-season four-day racing week, there were 10 races Friday and Sunday, and 12 on Saturday, making year-to-year comparisons inexact. But taking the average handle per race in 2006 and spreading it out to match the number of races on this year's opening-weekend programs, it's apparent Arlington did well in ontrack handle, the kind of betting that earns the most money for the track and for purses. The 2006 ontrack handle, projected over 10 races, was $609,495 on Friday's opening card, but Arlington handled $753,510 last Friday. Derby Day 2006 projected to $881,324 over 12 races, and came in at $1,051,027 on Saturday. Total handle from all sources on Arlington's races was down a bit Friday, up a bit Saturday, and almost identical Sunday.

The big boost came in field size, and that has carried over to week two of the meet, with solid 10-race cards both Thursday and Friday.

New surface a new option for Fort Prado

The Arlington Polytrack might have opened a new door for Fort Prado, who is being considered for the May 26 Hanshin Cup on Arlington's main track after winning the Russell Reineman Owners Stakes over Arlington's turf course on Saturday.

Fort Prado, who won for the first time in more than 10 months on Saturday, came out of his victory in good physical condition, trainer Chris Block said. Fort Prado has won 12 of 27 turf starts and compiled a 1-1-1 dirt record from 5 starts - including an Illinois-bred stakes win - but has never raced on a synthetic surface.

"He breezed well on it," Block said. "That doesn't mean he'll run well on it, but it's an option. We'll see how he is in two weeks or so and decide what to do from there."

Another Block-trained stakes horse, Corrupt, breezed a half-mile over the Polytrack on Monday, his first work since coming back into Block's barn after about three months with trainer Jeff Trosclair at Fair Grounds and Keeneland.

Corrupt won the first three races of his career, but basically was eased as the odds-on favorite in the Marcho24 Grindstone Handicap at Fair Grounds. He was a much better fourth April 9 in the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland, and he is being pointed to the June 23 Arlington Classic, with a possible prep in an overnight turf race some weeks before, Block said.

Toasted staying with Goldfine

Toasted, who shipped from California and finished well to be second behind Fort Prado in the Owners Stakes, has been turned over to trainer Mickey Goldfine and will remain in Chicago. Toasted made his first four starts in France before settling in with California-based trainer Laura de Seroux, who retired this past winter. Goldfine trains Chicago-based horses for Toasted's owner, Sidney Port.

Toasted, a solid 3-year-old stakes horse in 2004, missed most of 2005 before coming back with a decent campaign last year. His closing run Saturday was an improvement over his two prior tries at Santa Anita, but Goldfine doesn't have any specific plans just yet.

"He seems to have come out of his race good," he said. "I have several options with him: I could find a money allowance race, go in one of those overnight stakes. We'll just wait and see."