Updated on 09/16/2011 9:13AM

Little Treasure pays owner a visit


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Trainer Laura de Seroux penciled two major Arlington expeditions into her agenda this season. Astra already has been to town, finishing second Aug. 17 in the Beverly D., and Azeri has a date in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

But de Seroux also has a lesser-known horse for Arlington, Little Treasure, who on Wednesday was on her way here from de Seroux's Southern California base. Little Treasure starts as the likely favorite Saturday in the Grade 3 Pucker Up for 3-year-old turf fillies.

One-for-one in this country, the French import Little Treasure has won 5 of 8 starts in her career. She made the transition smoothly from European to American racing, and with a strong showing in the Pucker Up could be on her way to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes next month at Keeneland.

Sidney Port Trust and San Gabriel Investments purchased Little Treasure after she won the Prix de Bagatelle in May, but it was not until July that Little Treasure made her way to de Seroux's stable at the San Luis Rey Downs training center. Just three weeks later, Little Treasure won the Grade 2 San Clemente in her United States debut.

"We got her in good shape and were able to keep going with her," de Seroux said. "She came here fit."

She comes to Chicago in great part because Port is a local resident who can see his filly in person this weekend. Said de Seroux, "This is kind of a plan we mapped out. It's for Mr. Port as much as anything.

As of Wednesday eight other fillies were confirmed for the Pucker Up. Miss Marcia, third to the top-class Wonder Again last out in the Lake Placid at Saratoga, heads the list, and Transition Time and Attico both finished powerfully in an overnight stakes here on July 28. Also probable are Baldellia, Cellars Shiraz, Kathy K D, Strikes No Spares, and Yalta.

Macho Uno on the fence

The strong field assembling for the Kentucky Cup Classic this weekend at Turfway Park bodes ill for the $400,000 Washington Park Handicap here Sept. 29. The Washington Park was moved back on the racing calendar this season to function as the local prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic, and the race's star power will hinge in great part on whether Macho Uno ships here from the East Coast.

Fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic last year, Macho Uno is 2 for 4 this year, including a tally in the Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap. He finished fourth to Left Bank, Street Cry, and Lido Palace in his last race, the Grade 1 Whitney.

Macho Uno long has been a candidate for the Washington Park, but trainer Joe Orseno said a final decision on the colt's next start will come after a work this weekend.

"He's going to breeze Sunday at Woodbine and we'll decide after that," Orseno said. "It depends on how he goes."

Profitable detour for Martinez

Fresh off winning the riding title at the recently concluded Canterbury Park meet, the 23-year-old rider Seth Martinez has made a quick splash at Arlington, riding a pair of long-priced turf winners here last week. But how long will Martinez stick around?

Martinez has no agent booking mounts for him in Chicago and his two winners came for trainers that used him at Canterbury, Richie Scherer and Hugh Robertson. Martinez had planned to return to Turf Paradise, where he has ridden for much of his career, but now is entertaining the idea of taking a shot at this more prestigious circuit.

Based on his performance last week, he probably would have supporters. Wednesday, he guided the 30-1 shot Algezir from far back in the pack to a fairly easy grass win for Scherer, and Sunday he rode the Robertson-trained 10-1 shot Al's Dearly Bred to victory in the Golden Pheasant, an overnight turf stakes.

"That's my favorite horse," said Martinez, who got to know Al's Dearly Bred this summer in Minnesota. "I'm 4-for-4 with him. I've just gotten along with him really well."

Both Robertson and Scherer said Martinez is a diligent worker in the morning and a capable rider in the afternoon.

"He has a lot of confidence," Robertson said. "He'll go out there and ride hard for you, no matter what the horse is like."

Good-looking debut winner

Several 2-year-olds coming out of last Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes will run back in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, but no young horse running here Saturday was more impressive than the first-time starter Battle Tank. Trained by Dennis Ebert, Battle Tank tracked an honest pace in a one-mile maiden race, took over at the top of the stretch, and drew away to a five-length win. His time of 1:37.82 was strong for a juvenile with no race experience.

"We're going to train him up to the Futurity, and we may or may not run there," Ebert said. "I don't like to beat maidens and go right into a stakes, but it's on my mind."

A striking colt by the Valid Appeal sire Valid Wager, Battle Tank seems to possess a good mix of speed and stamina.

"I broke him and when he first started out he looked like any other 2-year-old," Ebert said. "But when I got him up to breezing a half-mile, I realized he's a pretty nice horse."

* A fourth-level turf allowance for fillies and mares failed to fill, leaving a statebred second-level allowance for fillies on turf as the feature on Friday's nine-race program. If she can bounce back on short rest, I Can Fan Fan clearly is the horse to beat, though the Wayne Catalano-trained Snickeez showed promise when she was switched to grass racing in her last start.