09/27/2002 11:00PM

Moonlight Sonata pays $122.60!


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - A maiden Saturday morning, Moonlight Sonata was a stakes-winner before nightfall, lighting up the tote board with an improbable win in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie on Saturday at Arlington Park.

Second or third in her four career starts, Moonlight Sonata rallied from mid-pack and finished strongly under jockey Shane Laviolette, beating Parting and Souris by one and three-quarters lengths. A 60-1 shot, Moonlight Sonata paid $122.60 to win, the highest mutuel ever in the Lassie and a far cry from Laviolette's other Lassie winner, Silver Maiden, who paid $3.80 in 1997.

Owned by Woodbridge Farm and trained in Kentucky by Bill Helmbrecht, Moonlight Sonata had finished a distant fifth to Fabulous Brush in the Aug. 31 Bassinet Stakes at River Downs, and her connections were eager to try her beyond a sprint distance.

"They told me that his horse has been dying to get a distance," Laviolette said.

Wildcat Annie, one of three Bernie Flint-trained fillies in the race, set the early pace in the one-mile Lassie. Souris, the second choice, stalked on the outside while Ashraaf, a strong favorite off only an Arlington maiden win, was away slowly and raced near the back of the field the first quarter mile. Heading into the turn, Ashraaf began picking up horses while wide, and the Texas invader Parting made a quick early move for the lead. Meanwhile, Laviolette said he "tried to save as much ground as I could," while making a steady advance.

Parting and Souris came to the stretch call together, but Moonlight Sonata, racing widest, was finishing fastest and pushed to the lead inside the sixteenth pole. She was timed in 1:37.83 for a mile over a fast track.

The result seemed a shock even to the connections of Moonlight Sonata, who milled about the winner's circle with a mixture of awe and delight. As strong as the race's impact was on them, it does not figure to have much effect the World Thoroughbred Champion-ship Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Most Feared wins Futurity

Trainer Ronny Werner has made his mark winning early-season races with lightning-fast 2-year-olds, but even Werner couldn't get Most Feared to win very early in his career. A long-bodied, long-legged 2-year-old colt, Most Feared finished third and fourth in abbreviated sprints this spring, but since Werner brought him back to action late this summer in mile races Most Feared is 3 for 3, and Saturday he easily won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Racing well behind a solid pace set by Sharp Impact and Echeverria, Most Feared swept into contention turning for home and won going away by three lengths. Anasheed, the less well regarded to two Godolphin colts in the race, finished second, a neck in front of Unleash the Power.

By the obscure Texas stallion Commanchero, Most Feared was bred in Texas by his owner, Tom Durant. Stabled with Werner at Monmouth this summer, Most Feared won a maiden race by a neck, then took the Continental Mile by more than nine lengths in Aug. 18. Werner shipped him to Arlington early this week, and after arriving in the wee hours Monday morning, Most Feared turned in a sharp work over the track.

Saturday, he ran to it, easily running up to the tiring speed under Mark Guidry and finishing strongly without competition to push him. Most Feared, timed in 1:37.52, paid $13.60 to win.