06/10/2010 11:00PM

Catalano outfitted with some Sunday best

Email

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Turf or Polytrack, leading Arlington trainer Wayne Catalano has the featured eighth race covered on Sunday at Arlington. Catalano, in fact, has coverage in far more than the feature, with horses entered in five of Sunday's nine races.

By the time race 8 rolls around, Catalano could well have notched multiple wins, adding to his meet-best 20 wins entering Friday's racing. Duvessa looks like the horse to beat in race 2, while Arms Race has a fighting chance in Sunday's third. Gladsong will be among the top betting choices in race 6, and in the nightcap, race 9, Catalano will saddle Pure Polished, who figures to be even-money or lower.

Race 8, a third-level allowance also open to $62,500 claimers, and carded for one mile on grass, drew seven entrants into the field's main body, and two more horses entered main track only. Both the Polytrack-restricted entrants look competitive, too, with Home's the Best having already won a one-turn mile allowance on Arlington's main track this meet. Catalano's main-track horse, Chantilly Nayla, did not appear to show her best when she was a well-beaten fifth last month in the American 1000 Guineas on turf, but she is Grade 2-placed on Polytrack, and won over Arlington's main track last summer.

For turf, Catalano and a Team Valor International partnership have Mona Lisa, a German-bred filly who won her U.S. debut here last summer. Mona Lisa last started in a Tampa Bay Downs Grade 3 and ran very poorly, finishing last of 11, but Catalano said he expects a much better performance on Sunday.

"She should run good," Catalano said. "She just needed some time off, and the freshening should help her."

Mona Lisa won over a European course rated good to soft, but Catalano doesn't think she was at her best on yielding ground at Tampa.

"I thought she'd run real, real huge in that race," said Catalano. "I don't think she cared for that surface a whole bunch."

Among the others in race 8, Sweet Relish figures to set the pace in her turf debut, though blinkers-on Hark could show speed. Single Solution finished third in the Grade 3 Pucker Up on this course last year, and makes her 2010 debut for excellent long-layoff trainer Chris Block. Roamin Robin exits a Polytrack victory here, while Expectation just won on Arlington turf.

Graham vaults in standings

It probably was only a matter of time before James Graham climbed toward the top of Arlington's jockey standings, and Thursday was Graham's breakout day this meet. The Irish-born jockey won four of the nine races on the card, giving him 23 victories for the meeting, good for a third-place tie with Jesus Castanon.

Graham missed a day's worth of mounts on Saturday, when he was at Churchill to ride Hot Cha Cha, a candidate for the Grade 1 Beverly D. in August, to victory in the Mint Julep Handicap.

Favorites up their percentage

Are bettors catching on to the nuances (endless, it often seems) of Arlington Polytrack? Or are short fields just increasing the chances of landing on a winner? Whatever the case, the percentage of winning favorites on Arlington's main track has increased substantially this year. So far in 2010, Polytrack favorites have won 38 percent of the time, compared with strike rates of 33 percent in 2009, 32 percent in 2008, and just 30 percent in 2007, Arlington's first season of synthetic-surface racing.