01/24/2012 2:16PM

Oaklawn Park: Arienza finds a softer spot for her return

Barbara D. Livingston
Arienza will make her 2012 debut in a $40,000 optional claiming sprint Thursday at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arienza, daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, who was to make her seasonal debut Sunday at Oaklawn in the $50,000 American Beauty, scratched from that race and will instead return in a more conservative spot Thursday.

Arienza will lead a $40,000 optional claiming sprint that carries second-level allowance conditions. The six-furlong race was offered as an extra over the weekend. It drew seven fillies and mares versus the 11 that went in the American Beauty that Gleaming won with a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

“We wanted the little softer spot to get her started,” said Dan Peitz, who trains the 4-year-old Arienza for Robert and Lawana Low. “Since we have conditions, why wouldn’t we take advantage of that? We’re trying to get back in the winner’s circle, get her confidence back a little bit.”

Thursday’s race will be Arienza’s first since Nov. 3, when she was fifth in a $62,500 optional claimer at Churchill Downs. The race was run in the slop, and Peitz characterized the surface as a deep one that Arienza did not handle. She has since been working sharply, among her local moves five furlongs in 1:01.60, the quickest of 84 works at the distance Dec. 31.

Arienza is a two-time winner at Oaklawn who finished second in last year’s Grade 2 Fantasy. She drew an ideal post for Thursday, getting gate 7 after having drawn the same gate in the larger American Beauty field. Gabe Saez has the mount Thursday.

“There were some speed horses outside of us for the American Beauty,” Peitz said. “I didn’t want us to be in one of those races where I felt like [the rider] was going to have to send her away from there and have somebody lay outside of us the whole way.

“As it turns out, we got lucky we drew outside of everybody [Thursday]. If she will settle a little bit, Gabe will be able to ease her into the race. He won’t have to gun her the whole way, and some of that’s thinking down the road with her, going two turns. We don’t want to come off a race where we sent her the whole way.

“In her first race, she laid just off the speed. We would love to have the same kind of race.”

Arienza could track Mine That Moon, who exits a 4 1/2-furlong race, and Bent Missile, a front-runner. Others set to start include Quest for Success, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Elloluv; and Twist, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Silver Train.