08/01/2006 11:00PM

Kassen filly needs top effort


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Trainer Dave Kassen and one of his bigger clients, the Butterfly Stable, just had Scooter Roach claimed from them for $50,000. Scooter Roach had made several hundred thousand dollars after Kassen and Butterfly acquired him through a claim. But rarely does the racing landscape look the same for too long, and no sooner had Scooter Roach departed the stable than Josefina's Pride, claimed for $50,000 on July 2, joined it.

starts in the featured eighth race Friday at Arlington, and Kassen said last week he has hopes for this 4-year-old filly. But she may need a career-best race to win the Friday feature, a third-level allowance with a $62,500 claiming option. The horse whom Josefina's Pride and six other fillies and mares will have to beat is Almost Innocent, who ships in from trainer Bill Mott's string at Churchill Downs.

While Josefina's Pride will have to improve - though she won well last out at the $50,000 claiming level - might merely need to hold her form. Racing in a high-end optional claimer July 9 at Churchill Downs, Almost Innocent finished second, more than three lengths clear of third, and at 1 1/16 miles, the race might have been a touch short. Friday's race will be contested at 1 1/8 miles, the distance at which Almost Innocent won a second-level Churchill allowance on April 29. But she does have her limitations, and a couple of tries at 1 1/2 miles are the only blemishes on Almost Innocent's recent record.

If Always Innocent fails to show her best, almost anyone can win. Yes Beth has gone 0 for 3 in 2006, but is not that far removed from competitive efforts. Samantha B. is racing farther than her best trip, but is in decent form now. The horse who beat her here last time, Lighthouse Lil, is back in this spot, too. Should the race get moved to dirt because of rain, Precocious Kat, entered main-track only, has the look of a short-priced winner.

Trainer Brian Williamson has perhaps the longest shot in the featured eighth, . In race 5, he starts the oldest horse on Arlington's Friday program. That would be Ivan Jay Perry, who at age 10 still is racing at the $40,000 claiming level. Ivan Jay Perry might be the horse to beat, but he will have competition from Holy Conflict, at age 9 one year his junior - two rocks of consistency in that changing claiming landscape.