05/26/2008 11:00PM

Meal Penalty to stay put for American Derby try


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - With the exception of Meal Penalty, who won the Arlington Classic on Saturday afternoon, there are no entirely fixed plans for any of the successful stakes runners to have competed over Memorial Day weekend at Arlington Park.

Meal Penalty, making his turf debut in the Arlington Classic just two weeks after a sprinting Polytrack win in a local overnight stakes, came out of his race in good order, assistant trainer Mike Dilger said on Monday, and will eschew the richer 3-year-old turf prizes in Virginia to make his next start in the American Derby here July 12.

Meal Penalty's trainer, Todd Pletcher, "decided he should stay here," said Dilger, who has headed up Pletcher's Arlington string since it opened in 2007.

Meal Penalty, a son of Tale of the Cat, set a really fast pace in the 1 1/16-mile Classic, getting his opening half-mile in just over 47 seconds. But he stayed on resolutely, and won the Classic in just over 1:41, a fast time that was less than a second off the course standard over a track that didn't seem exceptionally fast. Nevertheless, Meal Penalty was assigned a Beyer Speed Figure of just 89.

Prime Realestate, who closed for second, may be nominated to the $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs next month, trainer Wayne Catalano said, but also could show up in the American Derby.

Much Obliged, who won the American 1000 Guineas a couple of races before the Classic on Saturday, has returned to trainer Malcolm Pierce's home base at Woodbine, and came out of her solid win in good condition, Pierce said. A start in the June 28 Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park is possible, and Pierce said he would keep an eye toward the Pucker Up here on Sept. 6.

Coragil Cat on the rise

Coragil Cat continued his rapid ascension from struggling allowance horse to stakes performer with a relatively easy three-length win in the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup, also on Saturday. Coragil Cat lost 17 races in a row before scoring a narrow victory in an entry-level allowance race this spring at Fair Grounds. He subsequently won the Timeless Native Stakes here May 3, and improved again to capture the Hanshin.

Asked if Coragil Cat's form jump stemmed from innate improvement or a switch to synthetic-track racing, trainer Greg Geier said, "A little of both."

There are really no ideal stakes races for Coragil Cat here the rest of this meet, and Geier may be forced to ship for Coragil Cat's next start.

Plans also are uncertain for Indescribable, who won Monday's Grade 3 Matron - her first stakes win - by a half-length.

Her trainer, Graham Motion, said: "Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the Breeders' Cup is on a synthetic track this year."

Dreaming of Anna has strong work

Dreaming of Anna had a fast breeze here Sunday morning, and she did so carrying the weight of ex-jockey and current trainer Wayne Catalano himself. Catalano, no lightweight at this stage of the game, was aboard for a five-furlong work in a swift 58.60 seconds.

The breeze suggests Dreaming of Anna is ready for Saturday's Nassau Stakes at Woodbine - if she runs. Catalano said Monday that he and owner Frank Calabrese were leaning toward the Nassau over the Just a Game on June 7 at Belmont.

Dreaming of Anna was defeated as the favorite over a wet Churchill Downs course in the Distaff Turf Mile early this month, but has trained forwardly at Arlington since then. Catalano deemed the Sunday work "perfect."

Working five furlongs Sunday was Dreaming of Anna's brother Lewis Michael, who is making his way toward a 2008 debut.

Catalano ended last racing week with 18 wins from 26 starters at the meet. Calabrese has gained four more wins with trainer Rick Slomkowski, giving him 22 on the young season.

Three allowances on Thursday

There are three allowance races on Thursday's nine-race card, as programs in general continue to fill surprisingly well at the meet.

Race 1 on Thursday is an entry-level allowance route for 3-year-old fillies that drew a field of six. Tight Precision, third to Dreaming of Liz last out in a local overnight stakes, figures to be the favorite.

Race 4, another two-turn race, is a second-level allowance that may come down to a battle between long-layoff horse Mandurah, who won well on this track surface last meet, and Texas Fever, who faces older horses for the first time.

Race 8, another entry-level allowance, looks like a total toss-up.

* Smooth Air, who ships to Thistledown this week for the Ohio Derby, worked a strong seven furlongs in 1:24.80 on Sunday.