09/02/2009 12:00AM

Field not the best, but Washington Park is back


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Coaltown, Swaps, Round Table, Dr. Fager, and Spectacular Bid: No one is going to confuse any of the eight horses entered in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Washington Park Handicap with legendary past winners of the race. In fact, the 2009 crew can't even match up with the last three Washington Park victors - Lewis Michael, Suave, and Perfect Drift. But for anyone interested in an Arlington Park actually supporting an older-horse stakes division, at least there is a Washington Park in 2009.

Arlington canceled the Washington Park in 2008 when the Illinois Racing Board wouldn't allow the track to move the race to a date deemed too close to the Hawthorne Gold Cup. The purse for this year's race recently was reduced by $100,000, but that makes sense: With the Woodward at Saratoga and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar offering appealing spots for the top of the handicap division this weekend, the Washington Park can't expect to attract top-tier competition.

Still, there are horses in from all over the place for the 1 3/16-mile Polytrack contest. Unusual Suspect and Church Service, one-three in the Aug. 5 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, are in from California. Woodbine-based Palladio won the Seagram's Cup at his home track on Aug. 3, and may be favored here Saturday. Gran Estreno won the $100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald in his most recent start, while Eldaafer captured the Brooklyn Handicap in June. Wicked Style is a Grade 1 winner on Polytrack; Let it Rock and Dubious Miss round out the field.

The Washington Park shares top billing Saturday with the Arlington-Washington Lassie, which drew nine entries, and the Arlington-Washington Futurity, in which seven horses were entered. The Lassie field includes Attempt to Name, Deceptive Glory, Gabba Girl, Highest Power, Screen Legend, She Be Wild, Suzzane, Thats Whatshesaid, and Tiz Miz Sue.

Those entered in the Futurity are Beware the Tiger, Dixie Band, Herecomesbert, Kratisto, Oak Motte, Piscitelli, and U Appeal to Me.

Trainer Wayne Catalano probably will saddle the favorite for both 2-year-old races: She Be Wild in the Lassie, and Dixie Band in the Futurity. Steve Asmussen also has horses for both races (Gabba Girl and Herecomesbert), as does Monmouth Park-based Greg Sacco (Suzzane and Piscitelli). Sacco has never started a horse at Arlington.

Tizdejavu returns to the Midwest

Kentucky-based trainer Greg Fox can only hope Tizdejavu's trip to Chicago on Friday for Monday's Sea O'Erin Stakes goes more smoothly than his recent journey to the East Coast.

Tizdejavu shipped to Monmouth Park to run in the Aug. 2 Oceanport Handicap, but that race was moved to dirt because of heavy rain, forcing Tizdejavu to be scratched. Fox left Tizdejavu at Monmouth, where he worked on turf on Aug. 5, and was entered the next day in a Saratoga turf allowance race carded for Aug. 9.

"The entries came out, and there was the Met Mile winner," said Fox.

That would be Bribon, who ran down Tizdejavu on the way to a sharp win in the Saratoga allowance race. But Tizdejavu finished a clear second in that stakes-class field, a strong performance that suggested Tizdejavu is at least back to his best form of 2008. Tizdejavu ranked among the best 3-year-old grass horses last season, and had a three-race stakes winning streak capped by an Arlington turf victory in the American Derby.

Fox said James Graham has the call Monday on Tizdejavu. The Labor Day card here also includes a pair of Grade 3 stakes, the Stars and Stripes and the Pucker Up, as well as a $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes.