09/15/2009 11:00PM

Knockout Bertie a mystery on Poly


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Arlington Park has absolutely gone allowance-race crazy this week, and after a rough patch entry-wise earlier this month, the pace of horses being entered in Arlington races has increased considerably as the meet draws near its Sept. 27 close.

A startling five allowance races made it onto the program here Thursday, and there are four more scheduled for Friday's 10-race card, including three in a row to end the twilight program.

The day's highest-class fare is race 5, an open second-level allowance for filly and mare sprinters at seven furlongs on Polytrack, and Knockout Bertie would be a knock-it-out-of-the-park favorite here but for one major factor: She has never raced on a synthetic surface.

Based at Churchill with trainer Steve Margolis, Knockout Bertie has form superior to any of her five rivals in Friday's fifth, but all of it has come on dirt. She easily won her debut this past March at Fair Grounds, and after a slop-flop on Kentucky Derby Day, Knockout Bertie finished second to subsequently Grade 1-placed Pretty Prolific before clearing her first allowance condition at Churchill. When last seen, she was finishing a solid enough third in the $75,000 Femme Fatale, a dirt sprint at Penn National.

But all that means what, exactly, on Polytrack? Perhaps everything, perhaps nothing, but since Knockout Bertie figures to be a solid favorite here, it might be worth trying to beat her. A logical candidate is Eightonine Bell, who was fourth in a third-level allowance going 5 1/2 furlongs over Presque Isle Tapeta on Aug. 16 but five weeks earlier won by more than two lengths at seven furlongs on Arlington Polytrack.

* Race 8 is an entry-level allowance scheduled for the sun-baked Arlington grass course, and the only thing obvious about this race is the abundance of speed horses entered. Doctor Brasch looks at first glance like the logical closer, but he could only finish third rallying into a quick pace in his most recent start.

* Race 9 is for 2-year-old allowance fillies sprinting on the Arlington Polytrack, and this is a tough one, too. Winning Tale might have taken the worst of things dueling on a heated pace from post 1 in the Top Flight Stakes in her last start. She has a better post and a better chance Friday.