07/18/2007 12:00AM

Easy spot found for Load a Chronic


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The trainer Shannon Ritter had to look twice to make sure she was reading the Arlington condition book properly. If Ritter wasn't mistaken, there was a turf race open to horses that have not won a race other than maiden, claiming, starter, or statebred at more than one mile on grass. And that meant that the Ritter-trained Load a Chronic, a stakes winner at 7 1/2 furlongs, was eligible to run in his easiest spot in years.

"I saw it, and I was like, 'Whoa,'" Ritter said.

Now, all Load a Chronic has to do is go out and actually win the featured eighth race on Friday at Arlington. He should be favored to do so, but wins have not come all that easy for Load a Chronic, who has 11 seconds or thirds to go along with four turf wins - all of them at a mile or less. Friday's race is at 1o1/16 miles, a distance at which Load a Chronic is 0-1-1 in 3 starts, and one that at this class level should be well within his range.

"He's doing good, and he's a pretty honest horse who's made some good money," Ritter said. "He's been second and third at Churchill and Keeneland. He might not be quite at that level. That's why I'm hoping this is a good spot for him."

Load a Chronic came within a head of winning the $75,000 Independence Day Stakes on July 3 at Mountaineer, and does not appear to have lost his edge at age 7. Mark Guidry, who began riding at Arlington on Wednesday, will become the 10th jockey to ride Load a Chronic in his last 13 starts.

Sampson's Son, who finished in front of Ritter's other good turf horse, Ole Faunty, could provide the main competition to Load a Chronic. Sampson's Son has raced 8 times on grass, with 1 win and 3 seconds, and ran well to finish second to stakes-class Rapid Proof here May 19 in his most recent start.

Sampson's Son made an easy lead last time, which definitely helped his performance, but his trip should be different Friday with Wagon Road entered in the race. Wagon Road, in from Churchill for trainer Lynn Whiting, stretched out from sprints and went right to the front on the way to a wire-to-wire victory last out in a $40,000 one-mile turf claimer at Churchill.