09/12/2007 12:00AM

DiVito's summer a sunny one

EmailARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Jim DiVito's Arlington Park meet has gone so well, the success spilled over all the way to Iowa.

On Saturday, the same day Solo Survivor scored a major upset here in the Arlington Matron, the DiVito-trained West Coast Coach captured the Prairie Meadows Freshman Stakes in Des Moines.

Two Saturdays earlier, Piratesonthelake, still another DiVito trainee, dead-heated for first in the Arlington Sprint Handicap, and this two-week period, DiVito conceded, has been the best spell of his long training career.

DiVito's 18 wins this Arlington meet tie him for seventh in the trainer standings, but the other two barns with 18 winners have 224 and 107 starters, while DiVito has sent out just 71 horses to race.

The irony of DiVito's season is that his stable star, Coach Jimi Lee, had his summer wiped out by a splint injury. But as DiVito watched Coach Jimi Lee jog around the Arlington oval toward the end of training hours Wednesday, he did not act like a guy whose best horse had been out of action a couple months.

West Coast Coach had been 34-1 when he captured his career debut here July 28, but he paid 30 cents on the dollar last weekend at Prairie Meadows. After leading all the way first time out, West Coast Coach stalked, pounced, and won by a half-length under Diego Sanchez on Saturday night. His time of 1:09.21 was the fastest six furlongs ever run by a 2-year-old at Prairie Meadows.

"He showed another dimension there," said DiVito, who plucked West Coast Coach out of last year's Keeneland September yearling sale for a mere $22,000. His Beyer Speed Figure of 88 stacks up well with graded stakes-class 2-year-olds this time of year, but West Coast Coach is a California-bred, and so could be headed to Santa Anita for the California Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3.

As for Solo Survivor, she could make her next start on grass in the Indian Maid Stakes at Hawthorne after winning her stakes debut in the Grade 3 Matron. Solo Survivor had raced for as little as a $32,000 maiden-claiming price when she first began her career during the winter of 2005 at Gulfstream Park, and she had started for a $50,000 price the race before the Matron.

DeVito noted that the Matron's expected heavy favorite, Asi Siempre, had been withdrawn from the race earlier in the week, "and basically it was a case of thinking she could go the mile and an eighth."

And basically, DiVito's thinking has been sound all summer.

Sebastian County done for year

Sebastian County's chestnut coat is glowing, and the colt improved off his first two races - both wins - to finish third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity here Sept. 1. But trainer Don Von Hemel has been around long enough to know that discretion is the better part of valor, and on his advice, owner Toby Keith has elected to stop on Sebastian County this year and point to his 3-year-old season.

Interestingly, Sebastian County is a full brother to Cactus Ridge - also owned by Keith - who won the Arlington-Washington Futurity, but had injuries that led to his retirement without a start at age 3.

Von Hemel said that Sebastian County would be turned out at Keith's farm in Arkansas, then brought back with an eye to opening weekend at Oaklawn Park.

"He'll have a good break, and hopefully come back bigger and stronger," Von Hemel said. "I have to give them a lot of credit for doing this."

Changing of the guard

Out go the big names, in come the new names.

Mark Guidry and Robby Albarado both said good-bye to the Arlington jock's room - Albarado for this summer, Guidry, who is on the brink of retirement, for good - and unfamiliar names are showing up in the local entries.

The agent Oscar Sanchez has two jockeys new to the circuit, Sally Mitchellhill and Jordan Tunon. Mitchellhill, a 24-year-old native of Scotland, came from Calder, where she won 30 races. She was the leading apprentice rider this past winter at Tampa Bay Downs.

Tunon is a 17-year-old Panamanian who had been riding at Philadelphia Park.

Also in Chicago is Tanner Riggs, whose mounts are being booked by Randy "Curly" Curran. Riggs, 18, rode at Fonner Park this past spring, and recently returned to action after breaking his collarbone while stationed at Canterbury Park.

As for leading rider Rene Douglas, he will take a couple weeks off following this meet's conclusion on Sunday, but agent Dennis Cooper said Douglas would be back in Chicago to ride Hawthorne stakes races on Sept. 29.

* A field of six, headed by Jennie R., was entered Wednesday in Saturday's Ada L. Rice Illinois Owners' Stakes.