07/13/2008 11:00PM

Ciao sitting on big one in Modesty

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ciao did not lose touch with the leaders in the June 14 Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs until the final quarter mile of the race. The race was lost, however, passing the stands for the first time.

Caught in a paceless 1 1/16-mile turf race - in which victorious Dreaming of Anna set a slow opening quarter-mile of 24.23 seconds - Ciao tossed her head under restraint in sixth, and after fighting her rider not surprisingly had little left to mount a challenge in the latter portions of the race.

Reunited Saturday with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, under whom she won the Caressing Stakes earlier in her career, Ciao is poised for a significantly better effort in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park.

If she sticks to her 10-1 morning-line odds, she looks like a gamble worth taking, although she beats herself from time to time.

But when she relaxes and runs to her potential, she is capable of a banner race. She proved that last year in running a close second to favored Bit of Whimsy in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs, posting a 98 Beyer Speed Figure, the best in Saturday's race.

Adding to her appeal is the fact that she makes her third start off a layoff, often a peak race for a horse. She should be tight, but not wiped out from a long campaign.

Ballymore Lady, the Mint Julep runner-up, looks like her main rival, and California invader Lemon Chiffon could also pose a challenge, if she handles the stretchout from a mile to 1 3/16 miles.

Lemon Chiffon comes off a fast-closing fourth in the Redondo Beach Stakes at Hollywood Park, a quality performance, after being bounced around between horses early.

Cosmonaut tough as favorite

Cosmonaut is favored to win the Arlington Handicap earlier on the Saturday card. Even at a short price, he looks like a solid win play, and a good horse to key in multiple-race gimmicks.

A versatile front-runner, he has been a gem of consistency in 2007-2008 - compiling a record of 3 wins, 4 seconds and 1 third in 11 starts. Even when he finished off the board over that 11-race stretch, he was never beaten more than three lengths.

Campaigned primarily in shorter turf routes this year, he should appreciate the stretch out to 1 1/4 miles for the Arlington Handicap, a race in which he can utilize his speed. The pace figures to be slow, and with Cosmonaut drawn well in post 5, jockey Rene Douglas can choose to put him on the lead or in a tracking position if some other horse is surprisingly sent to the lead.

His tactical speed should ensure a great trip and leave him with the necessary reserves to contain a late challenge from the classy but comebacking Stream Cat.

Taptam dangerous at a price

The Allen Bogan Memorial, one of six stakes races for Texas-breds at Lone Star Saturday, presents an opportunity to back an improving filly returning to her preferred surface on dirt.

The filly is Taptam, who finished fourth on turf May 18, but who previously was a striking 6 1/4-length winner going a mile at Lone Star April 20.

Given a freshening, she looks primed for a top effort, having run one of her best races off a similar layoff in January when she won an optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park.

It is also interesting to note that the last time she moved from turf to dirt, she rebounded from a fifth in the Cimarron Stakes at Remington to finish second in the Bara Lass Stakes at Sam Houston last December, posting a 70 Beyer Speed Figure, her top number at the time.

Taptam looks dangerous at a square price.

Weights favor Quiet Jungle

Turning north to Woodbine in Canada, Quiet Jungle is the choice to win the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, a $300,000 grass race for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles.

Since being moved to the turf this year, she has turned in two brave runner-up finishes, while falling just short of victory. First, she lost by a head in a second-level allowance at Keeneland in April, then she returned to finish a nose behind the front-running Callwood Dancer in the Grade 2 Nassau May 31.

Finishing immediately behind her that day were two classy fillies - Sealy Hill and Arravale. Neither is in the Dance Smartly.

Under the allowance conditions of the this race, Quiet Jungle is favorably weighted at 113 pounds, eight less than Callwood Dancer. Callwood Dancer spotted her a single pound when they met in the Nassau.

Quiet Jungle appears ready to turn the tables.