06/28/2009 11:00PM

Informed Decision ready for return

Photos By Z/Keeneland
Informed Decision, winning the Madison at Keeneland, is 7 for 9 lifetime.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Informed Decision is inching westward again. A couple weeks ago, trainer Jonathan Sheppard moved her from his farm in eastern Pennsylvania to Presque Isle Downs in the western part of the state. Sometime later this week, Informed Decision will board a van bound for Chicago, where she is to start Saturday in the Chicago Handicap.

The Chicago is a Grade 3 worth $150,000. Informed Decision already has a pair of Grade 1 wins and purse earnings of almost $400,000 in 2009. But the race here at Arlington, Sheppard believes, is the right spot to get Informed Decision to the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga, and, longer-term, all the way out to the West Coast for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6.

"I think the timing is good, and we need to run somewhere before Saratoga," Sheppard said on Sunday. "I think it's wise for her to run on synthetics now and then, too."

Informed Decision will be the most accomplished horse to race in Chicago so far this year. She has won 7 of 9 starts, is 3 for 3 on synthetic surfaces, has won four races in a row dating to last year, and swept two major female sprint races in Kentucky in the space of three weeks this past spring. Back from a winter break, Informed Decision beat 2008 BC Filly and Mare Sprint winner Ventura by a head in the Grade 1 Madison over Polytrack at Keeneland. On May 2, she staged a late rally to capture the Grade 1 Humana Distaff over a sloppy dirt track at Churchill Downs.

Sunday, Informed Decision had her second breeze since being moved to Presque Isle, working five furlongs on the Tapeta surface there in a blazing 58 seconds.

"I'm very happy with her right now," Sheppard said.

Informed Decision was assigned a weight of 124 pounds for the Chicago Handicap, and is likely to face a short field. Dubai Majesty, second highweight at 119, is headed to Calder for the Princess Rooney Stakes instead of to Chicago, trainer Bret Calhoun said Sunday. The next three highest-weighted horses below her all raced last weekend, and Informed Decision will give at least eight pounds to her rivals Saturday. But since she has so far been unbeatable at seven furlongs on Polytrack, it might not matter.

Giant Oak gives public a show

The racing was okay on Sunday at Arlington, but probably the most stirring stretch run of the afternoon came between the sixth and seventh races, when Giant Oak breezed seven furlongs on turf.

Working alone under Eddie Razo, Giant Oak was timed in 1:26.40 on firm turf, but the breeze was better than just that solid raw time. There was a strong headwind through the homestretch on Sunday, when all the races had fast fractions down the backstretch and slow finishing splits. Giant Oak did just the opposite, loping through his first five furlongs in 1:03 before coming home his final quarter-mile in about 23.40 seconds. Giant Oak was timed galloping out a mile in 1:38.40 and nine furlongs in 1:52.80.

"I was just looking for a steady, solid breeze and gallop out strong, and I think I got that," said trainer Chris Block, who expressed appreciation for the permission granted by the track's racing secretary, Kevin Greeley, for the between-race work.

"It kind of freshens him up to take him out of his routine," said Block.

Giant Oak was a sharp winner of the Arlington Classic last month after leaving the Triple Crown trail after a second-place finish to Musket Man in the Illinois Derby. The Arlington Classic is the first leg of the Mid-America Triple, and Arlington is offering a $500,000 bonus to a horse who sweeps the three races. Giant Oak will try and win leg number 2, the American Derby, on July 11.

Options open for Euphony

There is absolutely nothing phony about Euphony, who came back to trainer Donnie Von Hemel's Arlington Park base on Sunday apparently no worse for wear following her sixth win in a row, a victory Saturday night in the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows.

Euphony has won on turf, dirt, and Polytrack during her streak, but is more likely to make her next start on dirt or a synthetic surface than on turf, Von Hemel said Sunday.

"We'll nominate to a bunch of places and see how things shape up," said Von Hemel, naming only one race specifically, the July 19 Delaware Handicap, as a stakes to which Euphony will be nominated.

Wednesday card extends week

The rematch is on between My Best Pal Red and Piratesonthelake, as Arlington adds Wednesday racing to its calendar, pushing the race week from four to five days, and putting more pressure on the regional horse population to produce sufficient entries.

My Best Pal Red and Piratesonthelake meet in race 7 on an eight-race card, a third-level allowance also open to $62,500 claimers, and carded for six furlongs on Polytrack. My Best Pal Red won a race at this class level June 5 by 1 1/4 lengths over Piratesonthelake, but that was at five furlongs on turf. The short-sprint trip favored My Best Pal Red, and Piratesonthelake has won all three of his synthetic-track starts.