Updated on 09/15/2011 12:46PM

Monsieur Cat favored on grass


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - They are not quite good enough to run for $400,000 in the Grade 1 Secretariat next weekend, but the field of eight 3-year-old turf runners entered in the Awad Stakes is quite good indeed for an otherwise everyday Friday program at Arlington.

An overnight stakes with a $60,000-added purse, the Awad will be contested at 1 1/16 miles, and is one of 10 races on a card that begins at 3 p.m. Rain is forecast here Friday, and with the International Festival of Racing on tap next weekend Arlington will waste no time moving the Awad to the main track should the turf course turn wet.

The top dirt horse might well be the Illinois-bred Lil Mephistopheles, but on grass the Awad is contentious. Monsieur Cat, who has had an interesting summer, might be favored for owner Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Dale Romans. Monsieur Cat, sixth in a pair of Kentucky turf stakes this spring, came here to run in the Arlington Classic, the first leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, but wore shoes not permitted on this course and, like several horses here this summer, was scratched in the paddock because of his footwear.

When he did get to run here, Monsieur Cat raced over a bog. Heavy rain hit Arlington an hour before the July 22 American Derby, which was run over a very soft course. Monsieur Cat finished second behind upset winner Fan Club's Mister that day, but because of the conditions and a painfully slow pace, the race is difficult to judge.

The last- and second-to-last-place finishers in the American Derby also are back for the Awad. Heptagone finished fifth in the race, his first stakes try, while Rahy's Secret was last. Rahy's Secret once looked like a top 3-year-old turf horse, but has disappointed in his two races here this summer.

"Everything I know about training, I've had to throw out the window with him," trainer Steve Hobby said. "He looks great and he trains great, so we're going to give him another shot.

"After his last race, I could have taken him right back to the barn and put him in his stall. He wasn't even tired."

The contender list does not end there. Wudantunoiut won the $50,000 Kentucky Colonel for owner Stonecrest Farm and trainer Murray Johnson in his last start, while Bahroba was a game allowance winner here last month, and Altered Birdie was claimed for $50,000 in his most recent race by the hot Dave Kassen barn.

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