05/26/2010 12:00AM

Helicopter goes for four in a row


Helicopter, who won as many North American races -- nine -- as all but one other horse during 2009, has picked up in 2010 where he left off last year. Helicopter has won his first three starts this season, and seeks another victory while taking a step up in class into the featured ninth race on Friday at Arlington.

It's almost always claiming or starter-allowance horses who amass the most wins in a year. The top number most often has been nine or 10 in the last decade, but Golden Hare put up a 14-win season in 2007, and a couple horses have already have racked up seven or eight victories this year. World Gone Wrong, racing in the Mid-Atlantic for trainer Scott Lake, won her eighth straight start of 2010 on Monday. On the Ohio circuit, Head to Toe scored seven straight victories for trainer Douglas Adams before going down to defeat last weekend.

Helicopter has much catching up to do -- he even trails stablemate Danseurs Nobles, who has five 2010 wins already -- but has held his form far longer than the typical flash-in-the-pan claimer. Helicopter, a 4-year-old by Three Wonders, has won 12 of his last 20 starts dating to early 2009, but prior to that was a 14-race maiden.

"I just think Polytrack moves him up," trainer Larry Rivelli said of Helicopter, who has gone 9-1-1 from 11 synthetic-track starts. "Plus, the horse really tied up bad going to the track every day when I first got him, so I put the horse in the hyperbaric chamber for 30 days straight, and it kind of knocked all the funk out of him. He walks in the morning a half-hour, walks in the afternoon a half-hour. We walk him a lot, take our time. It's kind of an ordeal, but it's worth it."

Helicopter has won three starter-allowance races in 2010, and jumps into a second-level allowance carded for 1 1/8 miles on Friday. Rivelli moved Helicopter from starter races to a rich entry-level allowance last fall at Woodbine, and Helicopter responded with a 1 3/4-length win. He's one of seven horses entered in the Friday feature, a race that hardly could look more wide-open -- prolific winner or not.