08/10/2009 11:00PM

Greeley's Angel steps up again


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Win conditioned $25,000 claimer? Check. Win $35,000 claimer? Check. Win $50,000 claimer? Check.

Next on Greeley's Angel's to-do list? A second-level allowance race over about 5 1/2 furlongs of turf, the Thursday feature at Arlington Park.

Greeley's Angel keeps winning, and trainer Jim DiVito keeps stepping him up in class. That first conditioned-claiming win came on Polytrack, but DiVito then took a shot in a turf sprint, and Greeley's Angel found his niche. The 5-year-old horse, who did not race at all during 2008, has turned in consecutive blistering rallies to win two turf-sprint claimers, and he will not be overmatched facing eight rivals under second-level allowance conditions here Thursday.

When he won June 27, Greeley's Angel was fifth at the stretch call, and in his July 17 victory he was fourth, closing into a slow pace. Both times Greeley's Angel outkicked everyone in the final eighth of a mile.

"He's been coming home in 11 [seconds], that horse," DiVito said. "He relishes short turf races, it looks like to me."

DiVito, the veteran Chicago horseman, is having his typically solid Arlington meet. After starting cold, with just two wins during May, DiVito went 7 for 19 here in June. Now, his barn is up to 15 winners this summer, 12th best among Arlington trainers, and DiVito has a 2-year-old or two worth getting up for in the morning.

"You just got to hang in there," DiVito said. "I'm very pleased with how things have gone."

The high-level claimers Greeley's Angel just conquered surely were comparable in quality to the foes he faces Thursday, but there may be a couple to fear. Shrewd Operator makes his third start back from a layoff of about 13 months and takes a decided step down in class here, having finished a respectable sixth July 11 in the $200,000 Arlington Sprint. Shrewd Operator possesses dazzling early speed, and before his long layoff he showed the ability to maintain that speed over at least six furlongs. Shrewd Operator should open up again Thursday and could prove difficult to catch this time.

And do not discount Mr. Mischief. This 4-year-old gelding runs a decent lick at a turf mile and will be making his first start going short on grass Thursday.