07/19/2007 12:00AM

Cosmonaut eyes repeat in Arlington Handicap


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Cosmonaut has yet to show he's actually a Grade 1 kind of animal, but he doesn't have to be that good to win the Arlington Handicap for the second year in a row.

The Arlington Handicap, one of three graded turf stakes on a 10-race card here Saturday, is a 1 1/4-mile Grade 3 with a $200,000 purse, and in that sort of spot, Cosmonaut has proven to be very effective. He won this race last year by more than two lengths, and probably would have won the Grade 2 Dixie in mid-May at Pimlico had not a horse broken down in front of him at the half-mile pole, causing him to momentarily become a hurdler. Even with the trouble, Cosmonaut finished a close, closing second.

It was back to Grade 1 competition in the June 9 Manhattan Stakes, and once again Cosmonaut was found slightly wanting. He established a clear lead in midstretch after racing on a dawdling pace, but had no answer when Better Talk Now, English Channel, and even the lesser horse Shakis came calling in the final 50 yards, finishing fourth, though beaten less than a length.

Cosmonaut led all the way winning this race in 2006, but he should have at least one target this time, since I Believe in Me tends to go for the early lead. Late runs could come from Revved Up, who at age 9 still has some zip; Cloudy's Knight, who was narrowly beaten last out in the Stars and Stripes over 1 1/2 miles on the Arlington turf; and especially Go Between, whose form has been clouded by recent bad luck.

Go Between ran well in the $1 million Virginia Derby at this time last summer, but has only one victory in seven subsequent starts, that coming in a restricted Tampa Bay Downs stakes, albeit against the good horse Therecomesatiger.

"It's been frustrating, since he ran so well in Virginia," said trainer Bill Mott. "He hasn't been the most genuine, I guess, but he does have some ability for sure."

Go Between caught wet turf he didn't handle two starts back, and last out, when he was third in the Opening Verse, the starting gate opened when his rear stall doors weren't even closed - two excuses for a potential upsetter.

Jennie R. has upset shot in Modesty

Locally based Chic Dancer was an overlooked 8-1 shot when she won the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap in 2006. Chic Dancer will try for a second win in the Modesty on Saturday, but this year it is another locally based contender, Jennie R., who may not be given her proper due by the bettors.

Jennie R. was a struggling allowance horse until blossoming here this summer. She easily won a $50,000 claimer in a fast time on June 3, and improved on that performance scoring a 1 3/4 lengths win over Chic Dancer in the June 23 Reluctant Guest. Jennie R. set a quick early pace that day, but still had enough energy left to run her last furlong in 12 seconds.

"We have one long suit and that tends to be speed," said trainer Michelle Boyce.

Jennie R. would have raced last week in the Lady Canterbury in Minnesota, but she tied up after a half-mile work on July 10 and Boyce had to keep her home. That might have been a blessing. Jennie R. got right back to business after a couple days off, and she posted another quick half-mile Polytrack work on July 17 in her final Modesty tune-up.

Chic Dancer also appears to be back on the upswing after a couple subpar performances to start her season.

Lightly raced Bridge Game ships in from Maryland for trainer Graham Motion, and appears to have upside.

The California shippers Mabadi and Sohgol both have recent graded stakes experience, but have produced only even finishes in short fields.

But the Modesty's most consistent horse, top earner, and the one to beat, is Brownie Points. Brownie Points has won 7 of her 17 starts while finishing third or better 14 times, and her connections, owner Pin Oak Stable and trainer Donnie Von Hemel, won this race in 2004 with Bedanken. Brownie Points - equally adept on turf and dirt - won the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows in her most recent out, and she encountered noteworthy trouble when second to high-class Lady of Venice in the May 28 Ouija Board at Lone Star.

"I can't say we'd have beaten that filly, but we'd have been closer, that's for sure," Von Hemel said.