06/11/2009 11:00PM

Informed Decision may be headed to Chicago


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The connections of Informed Decision are well on their way to crafting a championship season for the 4-year-old filly, and her campaign could include a stop at Arlington Park for the Chicago Sprint Handicap on July 4.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said Thursday that the Chicago Sprint is one of two options being considered for Informed Decision's next start, and the race here probably has an edge on the June 28 First Flight at Belmont Park.

"We're hoping that she gets assigned a reasonable weight at Arlington," Sheppard said, reached by phone at Presque Isle Downs, where he has a handful of stalls. "I thought that it might be a little bit easier spot there, and I thought that she seems to do well on synthetic. It would be pretty nice timing for what we hope will be her next start, the Ballerina at Saratoga."

The Chicago Sprint only is a Grade 3, but the race is more a means to an end than any major goal in itself. Informed Decision came on strongly late last year, and has won her first two 2009 starts, beating Ventura in the Grade 1 Madison in April at Keeneland, and coming back on short rest to capture the Grade 1 Humana Distaff over a muddy Churchill track in May. The Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 29 at Saratoga would be the primary summer objective, with Informed Decision's year-end goal the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Should Informed Decision run the table, she surely would be named champion female sprinter of 2009.

Since her win at Churchill, Informed Decision has been based at Sheppard's farm in West Grove, Pa. There, she has worked the last two Fridays over a five-furlong wood-chip oval, one of two courses Sheppard can utilize to breeze horses. But Sheppard said he planned to move Informed Decision to Presque Isle next week, and train her over the Tapeta surface there in preparation for the possible start on Arlington's Polytrack. She would then ship on to Chicago the week of her race.

On another front, Sheppard said champion turf mare Forever Together was a likely starter in the Diana Handicap at Saratoga, rather than in the Beverly D. here at Arlington. And finally, the veteran turf horse Cloudy's Knight, who was based in Chicago for much of his career, still is only in light training at the farm, Sheppard said. Cloudy's Knight, a Grade 1 winner, was turned over to Sheppard about two months ago.

Jara hits town at last

Jockey Fernando Jara finally has arrived at Arlington, getting in Wednesday night, and working one horse for trainer Steve Hobby on Thursday morning, his agent, Dennis Cooper, said Thursday. Jara was named to ride six horses on the Saturday card here.

Jara spent this past winter in Dubai, and at the March 25 post position draw for the Dubai World Cup, confirmed that he planned to be at Arlington for the meet's opening on May 1. But when Arlington got started, Jara still was in his native Panama, reportedly with a newborn child.

Jara, 21, won the 2006 Belmont Stakes aboard Jazil, won the Breeders' Cup Classic on Invasor later that year, and guided Invasor to victory in the 2007 Dubai World Cup. Those three wins all came for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, and for whatever reason, Jara failed to significantly expand his business through the remainder of 2007.

Cooper also is booking mounts for new arrival Jermaine Bridgmohan, who was to be out of action here Saturday in order to ride stakes races at Calder, but is slated to return to Arlington on Sunday.

Turf allowances enliven card

Entries on Wednesday for Sunday's 11-race card were fairly slow by the decent standards established so far this meet, but there were enough 3-year-old turf horses entered to make a pair of entry-level allowance races, one for colts, the other for fillies.

The race for males, the eighth on the card, drew only seven entries, but the filly race, the 10th, got 11. Race 8 looks fairly competitive, but give an edge to Oyster Cat. Oyster Cat won his maiden going two turns on turf at Fair Grounds, and was a close fourth with some trouble there in an entry-level allowance. Shortened up to a turf sprint, he finished second on March 29, and Oyster Cat was fifth on May 9 in the Tom Ridge Stakes, a synthetic-track sprint at Presque Isle Downs. Back at a mile on turf, Oyster Cat can win for the second time if he returns to his best Fair Grounds form.

Race 10 looks very tough to figure, but may have Pari as a mild favorite. Pari was shuffled back to 10th in the stretch run of a race at this class level May 10, but finished fast for a close second of 11. She and jockey James Graham will have to overcome a wide post on Sunday.

Lake Cook had decent form at 2, and finished a close third in her 3-year-old debut here May 10, but she finished a flat fourth on June 4 over Polytrack she had handled in the past.

Fleet Dyna impressively won a Polytrack sprint May 9 here in her career debut, and has the pedigree to adapt to a two-turn turf race. Prairie Prize also exits a one-turn Polytrack win, and as a daughter of Pure Prize has a chance to carry her form over to grass.