07/13/2008 11:00PM

Ky.-based Arnold liking local Polytrack


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In the seasons before Arlington's Polytrack era, the Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold used to be a rare participant in Chicago. Before last year, Arnold's career mark here stood at 5 wins in 18 starts. But Arnold's home base is Keeneland's Polytrack, which has led to greater participation at this meet (24 starts so far this season), and on Saturday, Arnold's owners took home the trophies from two graded stakes races.

Stream Cat captured the Arlington Handicap sharply enough to merit respect next month in the Arlington Million, if that is where he winds up, while Communique was much the best in the Modesty Handicap.

"It was a pretty good day," Arnold understatedly remarked late Monday morning.

Stream Cat had not raced since last fall, and was making his first start for Arnold after spending his career under the care of the suspended trainer Patrick Biancone. Arnold said last week that his relative unfamiliarity with the horse made it difficult to tell just how ready Stream Cat was for his comeback race, but the answer was, plenty.

It was one of those races in which a horse looks like a winner long before the real running begins in a race. Stream Cat was a bundle of controlled energy just waiting for a chance to run while covered up behind horses all the way around. When jockey James Graham found a seam turning for home, Stream Cat slipped through and ran right past heavily favored Cosmonaut, winning by nearly four lengths. Stream Cat barely shaded 2:05 for the 1 1/4 miles, but the turf Saturday was soft and laboring, and Stream Cat was given a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

Next up is either the Million or a trip to California for the Pacific Classic on Polytrack. Jack Goldthorpe, one of Stream Cat's owners, makes "most of the decisions" about where to spot Stream Cat, Arnold said, but "if I had to guess, I'd guess he'd be back for the Million," Arnold ventured.

Communique, on the other hand, could wind up at Saratoga for the Glens Falls over 1 1/2 miles rather than in the Beverly D. over 1 3/16 miles here. Communique won comfortably over that shorter trip here Saturday, but Arnold seems convinced Communique prefers more distance.

"We'll see who's coming," Arnold said. "We understand what was in the race the other day and what will be in the Beverly D. We'll nominate her, and we've got a nice backup if we don't come."

Stidham's best day

The 2008 season has so far not been the high point of trainer Mike Stidham's long career, but there is plenty of season left, and Stidham had his best day of the year on Saturday, winning three races in the span of an hour, while finishing second in two other stakes.

At Arlington, Stidham won a 2-year-old maiden race with Sweet Relish, and came back a half-hour later with another maiden winner, the 3-year-old Golden Slammer. A couple races later, he sent out 37-1 shot Sr. Henry to a fine second-place finish in the American Derby. Earlier in the afternoon, another Stidham-trained 3-year-old, Secret Getaway, won his turf debut in the 1 1/8-mile Toronto Cup at Woodbine for his second straight stakes win. At Lone Star, the old warrior Sandburr was nipped in a Texas-bred stakes later in the afternoon.

"We needed a little bit of a break-out day like that," Stidham said.

Both Sr. Henry and Secret Getaway could wind up in the Secretariat. "We're looking in that direction right now," Stidham said.

Sr. Henry had endured one troubled trip after another this year. Stidham said that on the backstretch of the American Derby, he turned to assistant trainer Hilary Pridham and said, "This is the first time I've ever really seen what the horse's stride looks like on turf."

It looked pretty good. Chasing loose-on-the-lead winner Tizdejavu, Sr. Henry closed resolutely to get within 2 1/4.

Secret Getaway, meanwhile, has gone 3 for 3 (his first win was via disqualification) since coming into the Stidham barn this year. A son of Skip Away, Secret Getaway made three starts in short sprints last season at Canterbury Park, but has won his last two races at nine furlongs. At 10 furlongs, the Secretariat "should be right up his alley" in terms of distance, Stidham said.

Tizdejavu will be back

Tizdejavu returned to trainer Greg Fox's farm outside Lexington, Ky. on Sunday no worse for his successful trip to Chicago, where he remained unbeaten on turf with a comfortable front-running win in the American Derby. Tizdejavu will return next month for the Secretariat Stakes, Fox said, but might ship to Arlington a little earlier than he did for last weekend's race.

There was no other speed in the American Derby, and Tizdejavu barely got out of a gallop while leading throughout the 1 3/16-mile grass race.

"He cooled out really well, ate up that night, and shipped back here in good shape," Fox said. "I weighed him this morning. Usually, a horse will lose 30-50 pounds shipping to Chicago for a race. He only lost 10 pounds."

Fox said Tizdejavu, who won the American Turf and Jefferson Cup at Churchill earlier this year, would breeze twice in preparation for the Secretariat.