07/17/2007 11:00PM

Perfect Casting arrives from Ireland


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The Irish trainer Dermot Weld has made a habit of sending horses from Ireland for the American Derby at Arlington. He had a couple prospects picked out for this year's race, too, but a shipping snafu almost cost Weld a chance for his fourth win in the American Derby on Saturday.

But after having a flight cancelled early this week, the Weld-trained Perfect Casting traveled on Tuesday, arriving at Arlington's quarantine barn about 9 p.m. Sometime Thursday morning he should clear quarantine, and traveling lad Jeff Byrnes will take Perfect Casting out for his first look at the Arlington racetrack.

"We were lucky to get the flight," said Byrnes, who last came to Arlington in 2004, when Simple Exchange won the American Derby, giving Weld consecutive victories in the race. "There was a mix-up somewhere along the way, but the important thing is we made it here."

Byrnes said Weld had picked Perfect Casting out as a candidate for American racing some time ago.

"He's a tough colt, with a really good constitution," he said.

Perfect Casting, by Diesis, has raced only three times, finishing second in his career debut to Alexander of Hales, who won a Group 3 in his next start and most recently was second in the Irish Derby. Perfect Casting won a maiden race at Leopardstown in his second start, and was a nose winner over soft going when facing older horses June 15 at Navan in his final prep for the American Derby. And while both wins came at one mile, Byrnes said Perfect Casting will be better at the American Derby's 1 3/16 miles.

"The trip won't be a problem," Byrnes said.

Patrick Smullen, who has ridden Weld's last two American Derby winners, will be in to ride Saturday.

Perfect Casting was one of nine horses entered Wednesday in the $250,000 American Derby, one of three graded turf stakes Saturday on Arlington's Million Preview Day. The others in the race are Pleasant Strike, the probably favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher, Lovango, Lattice, Self Made Man, Quasicobra, Sumac, Going Ballistic, and Eighteenthofmarch.

Arlington Cap, Modesty fields drawn

The complexion of Saturday's other two graded stakes, the Arlington Handicap and the Modesty Handicap, both changed significantly from last weekend to entry day, with several notable horses declining to make the trip. Among them was Argentina, whom Bobby Frankel initially had planned to send to the Modesty, but who instead remained in New York.

Late defections left the Modesty with a field of eight, headed by - no one in particular. Mabadi, one of two Californians in the race, could prove to be a tepid favorite since she was fourth behind top-class Citronnade in her most recent start. Sohgol, the other California horse, is graded stakes placed. Bridge Game, who was third in the All Along last out at Colonial Downs, also should get betting action, as should Almonsoon, who was a well-beaten third last out in a Churchill allowance race, but hails from the barn of Todd Pletcher, and will be ridden by Arlington's leading rider, Rene Douglas. The others in the Modesty are Jennie R., Brownie Points, Chic Dancer, and Rich in Spirit.

A field of 11 was entered in the Arlington Handicap, and here we have a distinct favorite: Cosmonaut, who won this race by more than two lengths last year. Six of his eight most recent starts - including a close fourth last out in the Manhattan Handicap - have come in Grade 1 company.

Graham Motion, who has Bridge Game for the Modesty, entered two in the Arlington Handicap, Gray Suitor and Green Lemon. The 9-year-old Revved Up, who won the 2005 Stars and Stripes Handicap here, ships from New York for trainer Christophe Clement. The others entered in the $200,000 Arlington Handicap are Come on Jazz, Meadow Vespers, Go Between, Cloudy's Knight, Lord Carmen, Murch, and I Believe in Me.

Ermine headed to Saratoga

The Grade 1-winning mare Ermine turned in a bullet five-furlong workout in 58.80 seconds here Wednesday, but is leaving Arlington for Saratoga by van on Thursday night, and is likely to make her next start in the Gradeo1 Go for Wand on July 28.

Ermine won the Apple Blossom in April after a productive winter in California, but finished fourth last out in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill. Trainer Ronny Werner, however, thinks Ermine has come forward since then, and said she worked well while partnered with a maiden-winning filly in Wednesday's breeze.

Werner, who is having a strong Arlington meet, said he has 10 stalls secured at Saratoga.