09/02/2009 12:00AM

Piratesonthelake questionable on turf


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - It helps to go to horse sales with a huge bankroll. Desired, but not required. Take longtime Chicago horseman Jim DiVito. DiVito, make no mistake, is doing just fine, but he never has had big money backing him at sales.

Coach Jimi Lee, who was scheduled to race Wednesday night at Hoosier Park, cost just $15,000 at a 2002 auction, and is closing in on $1 million in career earnings. Piratesonthelake came out of a Florida 2-year-olds in training sale for just $25,000, and comes into the featured fourth race Friday at Arlington with a bankroll of almost $325,000.

Piratesonthelake has won seven times, scoring over dry dirt, wet dirt, and synthetic tracks. But he has never won on turf, and Friday's feature, an optional $62,500 claimer, is scheduled for five furlongs on turf.

Piratesonthelake won 6 of his first 14 starts, but is just 1 for 11 over the last two calendar years. He does exit a dirt stakes win at Mountaineer Racetrack, and that 4 1/2-furlong sprint, like Friday's race, suits Piratesonthelake in terms of distance.

Like Piratesonthelake, the 8-year-old Fort Prado has won only once since 2007. No doubt, Fort Prado has declined from his peak years as a Grade 3-type turf miler, but he can win on Friday. Fort Prado finished fifth in the $200,000 Arlington Sprint on July 11, but that race came just three weeks after a two-turn Polytrack victory, and millionaire Fort Prado - whose string of recent works is impressive - may be sharper now.

No horse in Friday's race is sharper than Bullet From Abroad, who came to Arlington from Suffolk Downs in July, and immediately took a shine to sprinting on the local turf course. Bullet From Abroad won an entry-level allowance by more than two lengths July 23, and won a second-level allowance by three on Aug. 13. He takes a decided step up in class Friday, but might handle it.

Presque Isle Downs shipper Blind River Fox also merits consideration, and finished second in a $50,000 turf-sprint claimer here in July.