08/14/2009 12:00AM

Celluloid Hero rates shot with these


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - When he was a younger horse, 6-year-old Celluloid Hero was not so affectionately known around the Hugh Robertson barn as the widow-maker. Meaning, a wrong step in handling this horse, and your spouse might soon be a widow. Attempts to rate Celluloid Hero and turn him into a router early in his 3-year-old season made him mad. In the 2006 Lost Code Stakes, Celluloid Hero got worked up about a delay in Hawthorne's underground paddock. He took a right turn out of the gate, but still finished second. Underneath the anger, however, was talent worth developing, and Celluloid Hero comes into the featured eighth race on Friday at Arlington a winner in 10 of his 29 career starts.

Not much rating is attempted anymore. Celluloid Hero's best game is speed, and he is favorably drawn to use his early foot in post 6 on Sunday, one of eight horses in a six-furlong third-level allowance also open to $62,500 claimers.

Celluloid Hero is by no means a standout. In fact, his chances may be no better than those of King A.J., another horse housed in Robertson's barn at Arlington, but trained by Robertson's son, Mac. King A. J. has raced only on turf during 2009, but has compiled a 2-1-1 record from 5 synthetic-track starts. King A. J. will try to rally late, while speedy Celluloid Hero (2-1-0 from his 4 synthetic starts) goes about his business up front.

Trainer Roger Brueggemann's two horses in the Sunday feature, Mighty Rule and Big Rushlet, present the same kind of speed-horse, closer one-two punch, but they are coupled in the wagering, with E.T. Baird named on both, and one should be scratched. In the $106,000 White Oak for Illinois-bred sprinters earlier in the meet, Mighty Rule was about two lengths better than Big Rushlet, but either looks capable of factoring here.

Also in this deep field is the White Oak winner River Bear, as well as three other horses whose chances cannot be discounted. Hither Lane was a stakes-class dirt sprinter when last seen, but he has not run since January 2007. Truelyonbroadway comes off consecutive open-lengths Arlington Polytrack wins, but is taking a fairly sizeable class hike for this start. Tom Amoss used to train Truelyonbroadway, but Amoss has another horse for this race, the apparently improving Free Brave. Claimed for $32,000 four starts ago in May, Free Brave has won 2 of his last 3, capturing a $50,000 claimer over Churchill's grass course, and most recently scoring his first synthetic-track victory in a Presque Isle second-level sprint allowance race.