09/09/2009 11:00PM

Da Mama stretches out on grass

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Johar, the sire of a 3-year-old filly named Da Mama, won the 1 1/2-mile Breeders' Cup Turf in 2003. Theatrical, the damsire of Da Mama, won the Breeders' Cup Turf in 1987. One wouldn't guess distance would be an issue for Da Mama, but just how far Da Mama wants to run is the central question surrounding her chances in the featured sixth race Saturday at Arlington Park.

Da Mama debuted here in May for a $25,000 claiming tag, but that was aggressive trainer Tom Amoss being Tom Amoss. Da Mama has proven to be a better horse than a typical mid-level maiden-claimer. She won her first start, on Polytrack, by more than five lengths (at odds of 8-1, no less), and after a step back in another Polytrack race, Da Mama was switched to grass. She won an entry-level allowance race by more than three lengths on July 22 and won a second-level allowance by a length Aug. 9. But both races were turf sprints, and Da Mama will try two turns for the first time in the Saturday feature, a one-mile third-level allowance race also open to $62,500 claimers.

Da Mama is one of just six horses in the field's main body. Home's the Best will run only if the race is moved to the main track. Also entered were the two-three-four finishers from a similar race here July 31. Ciao was a clear second in that race, followed by Apple Martini and Creative Design. The other horse in the Saturday race is Flaming Slew, who figures to set the pace and try to hold on.

Among the horses that ran July 31, Ciao looks best. She came back Aug. 21 with another solid effort at the class level, losing for the second straight time to the talented miler Cure for Sale. Ciao tried in her last out to rally into a slow pace on a soft turf course and she may be better over what ought to be firmer going Saturday.

But she may have to run down Da Mama, and with only the four starts behind her, 3-year-old Da Mama should have room to grow. She has turned in four workouts since her last start, and if that pedigree kicks on and Da Mama turns out to be a better horse around two turns, she should have a decent chance to win her third straight.