Updated on 09/16/2011 8:55AM

Mucho Rapido takes big step up

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - When Harvey Vanier takes a young horse to Florida with him in the winter, especially an Illinois-bred that could stay with Vanier's Chicago string and run for statebred purses, it's more than whimsy. It means Vanier has hopes for the horse, and indeed, there were expectations for Mucho Rapido this year.

Things didn't quite pan out. But after a rough spell Mucho Rapido got back on track with a determined allowance win at Arlington on July 6, and Friday he tries to jump from a statebred second-level allowance into an open third-level allowance, the eighth race on a 10-race mid-afternoon program.

"It's a big step up, but he should be able to handle it," said Brian Williamson, Vanier's son-in-law and assistant.

Wednesday's racing will help bettors get a line on that. Traffic Signal, the horse Mucho Rapido edged in his last start, was to run back in another statebred race, and a convincing win would flatter Mucho Rapido.

Mucho Rapido is in a decent spot, back at the same distance of his last win and with sufficient pace in front of him. A natural stalker, Mucho Rapido could wind up sitting behind a speed duel between King Cielo and Meadowminer, stretchout sprinters who almost certainly will wind up on the front end.

Mucho Rapido's training since his win makes Williamson think the colt still is headed the right direction. That certainly wasn't the case earlier this year. After missing by less than a length in a Gulfstream Park allowance, Mucho Rapido was a decent fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby, but his next stakes try, in the Lexington at Keeneland, was dismal, with Mucho Rapido a distant last of seven.

While Mucho Rapido was second at Hawthorne in his next start, he was beaten by a reformed lower-level claimer, and his sixth in the statebred Springfield Stakes in early June was no better. But Vanier is not shy about pushing onward with his horses, and suddenly, in his last start, Mucho Rapido was back.

The forward march must continue Friday. Meadowminer, craftily managed to two wins at this meet by the Wayne Catalano stable, is unproven beyond sprint distances but was very sharp in his last start. A'fire, a five-length winner of a $50,000 claimer last time out, was claimed from Catalano and makes his first start for trainer Hugh Robertson.

Eyebrow Raiser has been off form since February, Anstar has yet to come back to his 2001 Arlington form, and Ozilda's Ronny is in from Great Lakes Downs.

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