07/24/2008 11:00PM

Furusato makes test run for Pitts


Helen Pitts will have a dress rehearsal of sorts Sunday. From her primary base in Kentucky, Pitts will travel to Chicago to run a filly named Furusato on the grass at Arlington Park.

Furusato looks like a solid contender in the featured eighth of nine races, a first-level allowance with a $30,500 purse and a field of nine fillies and mares. For Pitts, however, the race could carry added meaning, since it will vaguely foreshadow what she will attempt two weekends later at Arlington - and that is, win the 26th Arlington Million with her stable star, Einstein, one of the probable favorites for the Aug. 9 race at the Arlington Heights, Ill., track.

"Einstein is doing very well," Pitts said Friday from Churchill Downs.

First comes a more perfunctory piece of business. Furusato, like the Brazilian-bred and -raced Einstein, sports a foreign background, having raced five times in France before being sent to Pitts by owner Naoya Yoshida. In her only start in North America, a June 25 turf allowance at Churchill, Furusato lagged well back early before finishing with a flourish. She wound up third, beaten only a half-length by the winner.

"She ran absolutely huge that day, and I was really pleased with her," said Pitts.

Although bred in Kentucky, Furusato, a 4-year-old filly, "basically is European, real quirky and needing plenty of ground," Pitts said. "But I really do like her. She showed me a lot that day at Churchill."

Furusato, with Jimmy Graham to ride, will break from post 8 in the 1 1/16-mile feature. Her strongest opposition appears to be a pair of fellow Kentucky shippers, Itsawonderfullife and Dandy Mandy, as well as Don'tputmeback and Perfect Motion.

Of those, Dandy Mandy might take the most play on the combination of her highly reputable connections and respectable form. With Rene Douglas riding for trainer Todd Pletcher, the

4-year-old Dandy Mandy comes off a fourth-place finish in the same Churchill race in which Furusato was third in her Stateside debut.

Aside from the feature, the Sunday card includes four maiden special weight races, all with decent-sized fields. First post is 1 p.m. Central.

After Sunday, Arlington goes dark for two days before live action resumes Wednesday afternoon.