08/12/2009 12:00AM

Less traffic for Full Flame


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - There's no chance Full Flame will have as many horses to pass in the featured ninth race on Friday at Arlington Park as he did on July 24. Full Flame faced 11 rivals last month, and trailed all but one of them at the first call of a two-turn grass race. This time, he faces six at most. Besides winnowing down the competition, the shorter field could lead to a better trip for late-running Full Flame, and a good trip might allow him to pull a minor upset over likely favorites Crater Maker and Sevnthiningstretch.

The Friday feature is for Illinois-bred second-level allowance horses, and carded at 1 1/16 miles on turf. And turf seems to have made a great difference to Full Flame. A 3-year-old Horse Chestnut gelding bred by his owner, Rich Papiese, Full Flame actually won his career debut running six furlongs on Hawthorne dirt back on March 21. After spinning his wheels in a pair of Polytrack sprints early this meet, Full Flame was switched to turf by trainer Hector Magana, and immediately won an Illinois-bred entry-level allowance race, rushing from seventh at the stretch call to first at the wire.

While Full Flame finished sixth on July 24, he was beaten only 3 1/2 lengths after breaking from post 10 and dropping to the back of the field. And, as was the case in his turf-debut win, Full Flame came home full of run, getting his final quarter-mile in less than 24 seconds. In just his third turf start and seventh race of his career, Full Flame has more potential upside than experienced rivals like Crater Maker.

Crater Maker is a 6-year-old with 22 races, and though he has only two career wins, Crater Maker has almost always run well over the Arlington grass course. In that same July 24 race, he too gained several lengths from the stretch call to the wire, finishing second, less than two lengths in front of Full Flame.

Sevnthiningstretch exits a front-running turf-route victory over entry-level Illinois-bred allowance foes, and already has put together a solid Arlington meet, with two wins and a second. Sevnthiningstretch led all the way in his recent score, and his chances may depend upon how much speed stretch-out sprinter Military Legend - drawn one stall to the outside - shows in Friday's race.