08/31/2009 11:00PM

Fields light as week begins

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - It's a nice idea, for a racetrack to finish off a meeting with a bang, not a whimper. But for that to happen at the 2009 Arlington Park meet, which concludes Sept. 27, the pace of entries will need to pick up considerably. Even carding just eight races, even with Wednesday racing having been dropped starting this week, there were just 55 horses entered on the Thursday program at Arlington. That is fewer than 6.9 entries per race, and until race 8, which drew nine entries, all the races are made up of six- and seven-horse fields.

That goes for the highest-class fare on the card, a pair of allowance races - one for Illinois-breds, the other for open company - and a $45,000 filly-and-mare turf claimer.

That higher-class action starts in race 5, an entry-level turf allowance carded for fillies at about 1 1/16 miles on grass. Here, the favorite figures to be Shadow Giant, who has been solid if unspectacular this summer making three starts over the Arlington turf course. She won the first of those, pulling a minor upset while leading all the way against maidens, and has finished fourth and third in her two tries against other winners. Shadow Giant has tactical speed, but basically is a one-paced route horse who could easily fall to a faster-finishing foe Thursday. The most likely candidate to fill that role is Chartreaux, who made up more than 11 lengths and passed five horses while finishing a close fifth here July 25 in her turf debut. Lacie Slew, who makes her turf debut for trainer Ian Wilkes, also should be included on any tickets aiming at multi-race exotics.

In race 6, the $45,000 turf-route claimer, You Dancing Devil is out to end a nine-race losing streak, and has a decent chance to do so. Seven-year-old You Dancing Devil has not looked like the same horse since she romped to victory here last September in a restricted turf stakes, but Thursday's race should offer the easiest competition You Dancing Devil has seen since she cleared her Illinois-bred allowance conditions years ago. She had trouble when finishing second for a $50,000 tag on July 24.

And finally, in race 7, Last Wompus should take some beating. Facing open competition in his most recent start, Last Wompus rallied decently to finish second of eight. He finished fourth in the Springfield Stakes, and won his two prior Polytrack starts here for trainer Percy Scherbenske.