08/05/2007 11:00PM

Cayenne Red may be vulnerable to Without a Doubt

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - There is, admittedly, an allowance race on Arlington's nine-race Wednesday program, but calling an Illinois-bred entry-level allowance a featured race seems a little odd. Instead of a featured race, fans interested in more than mere gambling may gravitate to one particular horse, Cayenne Red, one of the heroes of the new Polytrack era.

Trainer Grant Hofmans talked in late June about giving Cayenne Red a class hike, but Cayenne Red was entered in Wednesday's fourth race, a $35,000 claimer - the same class level Cayenne Red dominated in his two most recent starts. But then Cayenne Red generally is the boss in races contested over Polytrack. He has made nine starts on the all-weather surface and won seven of them, including four straight by more than 13 lengths combined. Cayenne Red, who also has 10 wins over conventional dirt, has won on the Turfway Park Polytrack and the Keeneland Polytrack, and has easily beaten $35,000 claimers in two starts this meet on the Arlington Polytrack.

Cayenne Red, however, might be worth trying to beat Wednesday. Between May 18, when he won for the first time at Arlington, and June 27, when he most recently raced, Cayenne Red posted two works, one of them a bullet half-mile. After that June 27 race, however, Cayenne Red didn't show up on a published work tab until July 28, when he worked five furlongs here in 1:06.20. Maybe Hofmans merely altered Cayenne Red's training routine, but that is not the sort of thing one likes to see from a horse who figures to be an odds-on favorite.

Catalissa has four lengths to make up on Cayenne Red based on their common last start, and a better alternative to beat the chalk might be Without a Doubt, who is taking a class drop after getting a freshening from trainer Peter Walder. Without a Doubt - in stark contrast to Cayenne Red - worked a half-mile in a snappy 47 seconds here July 28.

As for the Illinois-bred allowance, race 7, trainer Moises Yanez holds a strong hand. He has the likely favorite in Appeal with Zeal, who finished well to get second at this class level on July 20, as well as the lightly raced Sharp Surprise. Sharp Surprise dumped her rider in her career debut on May 24, and after an even fifth-place finish next out, she easily won a maiden race on June 27.

* It's safe to say the Polytrack was fast late on Sunday's card. First-time starter Shrewd Operator turned in the fastest six-furlong time of the meet (1:08.84) in race 9, and a race later, West Coast Swing established a new seven-furlong standard of 1:21.29.