08/17/2005 12:00AM

Oaks no easy task for Whimsy

Benoit & Associates
Eyes on Eddy comes into the Arlington Oaks off an impressive win.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Okay, it's not the Kentucky Oaks, but it will have to do for this weekend's stakes racing at Arlington Park. Eight fillies were entered Wednesday in Saturday's $100,000 Arlington Oaks, the biggest dirt race of this meet for the 3-year-old female set.

One of Arlington's best 3-year-old fillies, Culinary, shipped to Monmouth Park for last Sunday's Monmouth Oaks. She stumbled leaving the gate at odds of 6-5, and missed the board. But her stablemate Whimsy, equally if not more talented, should be favored in the 1 1/8-mile Arlington Oaks. Whimsy, a Pin Oak Stud homebred, won the first three races of her career before suffering a half-length loss here in an early-meet overnight sprint stakes. Then Whimsy started running in route races, and has since scored two impressive victories, the most recent a 2 3/4-length thrashing of favored Cee's Irish in the July 1 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows.

Standing in the way of another Whimsy win are Easily, Eyes on Eddy, Flip Side, Gallant Secret, Miss Matched, Ritzy, and Tappin for Gold. Miss Matched won the race in which Whimsy suffered her only loss, but it's Eyes on Eddy who might be Whimsy's most formidable opponent Saturday. Eyes on Eddy's spring form culminated with a good second to Summerly in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds, but her form deteriorated in starts through the spring, earning Eyes on Eddy a period of farm rest, according to trainer Paul McGee.

"After she ran at Keeneland, we turned her out for two weeks just to let her eat grass and be a horse for a while," McGee said.

Eyes on Eddy came back in sprint races, winning one allowance and finishing second by a nose in another, before stretching out to a one-turn mile in an overnight stakes prep for the Oaks. She won that July 29 race by 10 lengths, an excellent stepping-stone to Saturday's start.

"I'm not going to say that was surprising, because she has shown substantial talent before, but maybe the margin of victory was surprising," McGee said. "Any way you cut it, she ran a big race, but she has always been a talented filly."

Magic Doe retired at 10

The ancient Illinois-bred stakes horse Magic Doe has been put out to pasture. At age 10 and still competitive with fairly high-class racehorses, Magic Doe has been retired to trainer Jim McCoy's Orion Farm near Lewisburg, Kan.

"He had a little filling in a low suspensory [ligament]," McCoy said. "He probably could keep on going, but he doesn't have anything left to prove."

Magic Doe began his career in 1997, and made 90 starts and earned almost $790,000 before all was said and done. He was owned by his breeder, William Cortesi, who died a couple of years ago, and was trained until 2004 by James Eckrosh, who at the time of his retirement surely was the oldest working horseman anywhere in these parts. Eckrosh now is 96, and suffered a health setback not long ago. McCoy, who sees him regularly, said that Eckrosh somehow is rallying again, and that he knew about the end of his old horse's career.

Magic Doe was a stakes-class sprinter most of his life, but McCoy started running him long two seasons ago. The horse adapted, winning a race last year and finishing second in April in a $92,000 stakes race at Hawthorne. In his final start, he was fourth on turf in the $86,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap.