07/30/2007 11:00PM

Piano Tunner already proven at this level


As claims go, few turn out as well as Piano Tunner. Claimed for $10,000 in June 2004 by trainer Hugh Robertson for owners Cal Jestice and Dan Wainscott, she has subsequently compiled a record of 9-5-7 in 29 starts, earning $297,683 for her current connections.

That total only figures to grow. She looms the one to beat in Thursday's featured third race at Arlington Park, a $62,500 optional claimer at about five furlongs on turf.

Piano Tunner is the most likely winner in the race, also open to horses eligible for a third-level allowance, for an obvious reason. She has twice won under similar conditions at Arlington over the past two years. Last August, she won a comparable third-level allowance race going five furlongs over a soft turf course, and two starts ago, on June 17, she won another allowance racing 5 1/2 furlongs on grass.

Piano Tunner's last start, July 12, marked one of her few recent defeats. She ran into traffic leaving the turn, which left her with too much to overcome in the stretch. Once swung to the outside, Piano Tunner finished with a flourish to be third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

Finishing a head in front of her was Taylor Madison, one of five rivals Piano Tunner faces Thursday. Taylor Madison, entered for a tag on Thursday, dueled from the start with victorious Ocean Current through demanding fractions before tiring to finish second.

A stakes winner, Taylor Madison is one of four entrants that have earned black type - the others being Piano Tunner and Bewitching Miss, who are stakes placed, and Whatsitgonnatake, a two-time stakes winner.

Also figuring prominently is Put Away the Halo, a winner of two straight turf sprints at Churchill Downs. A half-length winner of a $40,000 claimer June 21, she returned to take a $50,000 claimer July 6 by a nose despite a troubled trip. Blocked in traffic until the eighth pole, she gamely bulled her way between horses to score a hard-fought victory.

* Two other allowances are on the latter part of the Thursday card. Stonehouse and Cane Garden Boy drop from stakes company to headline a second-level allowance for Illinois-breds in race 7. Then in race 8, a full field of 12 has been entered, plus two also-eligibles, in a first-level allowance going 1 1/8 miles on turf. Miss Causeway, a nose maiden winner at Churchill Downs on July 4, is the likely favorite.