Updated on 09/15/2011 1:07PM

Meadowminer returns in prime condition


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - It was no easy task filling Sunday's $50,000-added overnight stakes feature at Arlington Park. Only 13 3-year-olds were even nominated to the 6 1/2-furlong race, named the Sauce Boat, and of those, four had started in the last 10 days, one was injured, and another entered an allowance race on Saturday's card.

In the end, only six horses could be found to run, yet the field is by no means dull, with the comebacking Meadowminer facing Bet on Joe and Winnie's Pooh Bear. Also slated to start are mud-lover Don Regino, Ballado's Devil, and One Special Judge.

Meadowminer commands the most interest since he has yet to lose in three starts, though luck has played a leading role in his accomplishments.

Meadowminer debuted in a $40,000 maiden-claimer here last summer, winning by a nose, then won an allowance race at Hawthorne by a neck and the Old Hickory Stakes at Fair Grounds by a nose - three wins by a total of less than a half-length. But his luck ran out. Meadowminer fractured his leg, an injury

that requires a long healing period, and he has not raced since December.

Trainer Wayne Catalano showed off Meadowminer last week just after training hours had ended, saying he thought the colt had a chance to be "a good horse," and that he was basically fit and ready to run. Indeed, Meadowminer appears to carry no extra weight, his bay coat is dappled, and his work tab, headed by 46.60-second half-mile gate work on Sept. 12, is formidable.

But so is Bet on Joe, who will run only eight days after winning a second-level allowance race here. Owned by John Castro and trained by Hugh Robertson, Bet on Joe took a huge step forward when he won a first-level allowance here Sept. 2, and though not quite as sharp last week, he clearly is thriving now.

Winnie's Pooh Bear cannot be dismissed simply because he trains at Great Lakes Downs, the tiny Michigan racetrack. He invaded Arlington during the meet's first week and finished second, beaten a neck, in an overnight sprint stakes.

Indiana Derby next for San Pedro

One nominee who won't start in the Sauce Boat is San Pedro, who is headed to the Oct. 6 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park. San Pedro recently has battled a case of stomach ulcers, but the problem apparently has cleared up, and a six-furlong work in about 1:12 this week convinced trainer Spanky Broussard to point for the Indiana Derby rather than the Sauce Boat.

On Saturday, Broussard was to have the unusual experience of saddling three siblings on Arlington's nine-race program. The 3-year-old Chess Game was to make his debut in a maiden race, while No Regreta and Smilin' Slew were to run in allowance races. All are out of the Slewpy mare Bunny Slew, whose 2-year-old has just come into Broussard's barn.

Ioya Two displays versatility

There apparently is nothing the mare Ioya Two cannot do on Arlington's turf course. In late July, she won the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at 1 3/16 miles, and on Thursday, making her first start since the Modesty, she won an allowance race over five furlongs, barely half the distance of her previous win.

Ioya Two likes to run close to the early pace in her route races, but since she lacks the speed to keep up with pure sprinters, she rallied from dead last to win going away.

Trainer Chris Block, whose family, racing under the stable name Team Block, owns Ioya Two, tried the five-furlong race out of desperation: He had entered Ioya Two twice since the Modesty, but was forced to scratch each time when her race was rained off turf. Block worried that his mare would get stale if she waited much longer, and with no suitable route races available at Arlington he threw her in the sprint race, not knowing what to expect.

"It goes to show you, I didn't train her at all to run five-eighths," said Block. "I didn't change anything. With a type like her, the trainer's job is just to make sure they stay healthy and mentally sharp."

Ioya Two ran well enough this week that Block is considering the Lazer Show Stakes, another turf sprint here next month, for her next race. Block is pointing Ioya Two to the $75,000 Estrapade Handicap here Oct. 28, and will consider a November start at Churchill Downs After a freshening this winter, Ioya Two, a 5-year-old, is likely to come back for another season. "I think she showed [Thursday] she still really likes what she's doing," Block said.

Where's Taylor will try Shadwell Mile

Where's Taylor, who finished off the board after setting a suicidal pace in the Aug. 25 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, will make his next start Oct. 7 in the $500,000-added Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile.

The bad trip Where's Taylor's endured in the Fourstardave was especially difficult to swallow for his connections - owner Barry Golden and trainer Mike Stidham - since he had trained so well at Arlington all summer and had been pointed to the race for almost two months.

But assistant trainer Hilary Pridham, who was aboard Where's Taylor this week for a strong five-furlong dirt work here, said the gelding has continued to thrive. "I'd say he's doing as well now as he was over the summer," she said.