10/08/2001 11:00PM

Claimers get their moment

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The days of top-class racing at Arlington Park are fading as quickly as the late afternoon daylight as this marathon meet winds its way toward an Oct. 28 conclusion. Arlington ceded the Midwest's racing spotlight to the glamour Keeneland meet last week, and with last Saturday's Arlington Matron the track completed its graded stakes schedule.

Weekdays, Arlington basically has been left to the claimers, and Thursday's nine-race program includes seven claiming races, an interesting two-turn straight maiden race, and a soft-looking Illinois-bred entry-level allowance race. The feature, the seventh race, is a one-mile turf race for $40,000 to $50,000 claimers.

A full field of 12 boils down to a handful of logical contenders. Provided the race stays on turf, the most likely winners are G All Day, Big Scoop, and Simply Nate, with a slight edge going to G All Day because of his post position. He has drawn the rail, and the other two top contenders drew posts 11 and 12, potentially trouble with a limited run to the first turn.

G All Day also takes a bit of a class drop in his third start since being claimed Aug. 15 for $50,000 by national claiming powerhouse Richard Englander and Mike Reavis, Englander's only trainer who regularly is based in Chicago. Since the claim G All Day has finished a close third for a claiming tag and a close fifth in a state-bred overnight handicap that had a strong field. Since the last race, on Sept. 16, he has worked twice, both typically slow Reavis works. Larry Sterling, the barn's "A" rider, has a return call on G All Day.

Simply Nate must overcome post 12 and bounce back from one of his dullest races in two years - a 10th-place finish in a high-end claimer here Sept. 1. Simply Nate is trained by Michelle Boyce, who has had much success in Chicago turf races. Boyce has named her go-to grass rider, Earlie Fires, who must find some way to save ground on the first turn. Simply Nate almost certainly would prefer a firm turf course.

Big Scoop, an 82-race veteran, starts one stall inside Simply Nate and utilizes similar late-closing tactics. His form is sharper than Simply Nate's, but he is less proven at this level.

Planet Earth is a fringe contender on turf, while Q Commercial Jette might well be the horse to beat if the race is rained onto the main track. Q Commercial Jette, unproven on grass, has been racing well at Great Lakes Downs all summer.

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