08/25/2007 12:00AM

Dead heat in Arlington Sprint Handicap


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Rene Douglas knew precisely what to do, but for Diego Sanchez, a trip to the Arlington winner's circle after a stakes race was a brand new experience. Still, Arlington had to make room for two parties on Saturday after Piratesonthelake, ridden by Sanchez, dead-heated with heavily favored In Summation in the Arlington Sprint Handicap.

Sanchez, a Spaniard spending his first summer at Arlington, took the lead before the first call in the six-furlong Arlington Handicap, and Piratesonthelake led every step thereafter except the last one. In Summation looked like a beaten horse at the eighth pole, but surged late and barely missed getting his nose down on the wire.

" knew turning for home I really had to ride hard," said Douglas, who had In Summation in a stalking position, but watched Piratesonthelake slip clear with a quick move turning for home. In Summation had the momentum at the finish, but his late lunge came up just short of securing a clear victory. In Summation, who shipped in from Saratoga for trainer Christophe Clement, carried 124 pounds, 12 more than Piratesonthelake, a major shift that probably played a role in the $150,000 Arlington Handicap..

"That's racing," Douglas said of the weight spread.

Piratesonthelake hails from the barn of Jim DiVito, who was attending a horse auction in Florida. DiVito also trains Coach Jimi Lee, a top sprinter on the circuit, who was sidelined with a splint bone injury this summer. Piratesonthelake, just a 3-year-old, had finished second in the Prairie Meadows Sprint in his most recent start, and now has won five of his 11 starts. Sanchez said he had no particular plan to make the lead, but said his mount broke well and easily made the front when Off Duty, who on paper looked like the other speed in the race, raced from well off the pace Saturday. Off Duty also finished well in his Polytrack debut and finished third, beaten only a neck by the top two. Farther back came pace-pressing City Number, Star By Design, and High Expectations, who trailed throughout.

The winning time for six furlongs on Polytrack was 1:09.14. Piratesonthelake paid $4.80 to win, In Summation $2.20.

Ten years ago, there was another dead heat in the Arlington Handicap, when Bet on Sunshine and Hunk of Class hit the wire together.