06/22/2007 11:00PM

Pleasant Strike romps


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Even before Pleasant Strike had raced this Arlington meet, Todd Pletcher mentioned him as a candidate for Arlington's Mid-America Triple for 3-year-old grass horses. And after his performance Saturday, one can see why.

Pleasant Strike ($12) crushed eight rivals in the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Classic, looking like a potential hopeful for the Grade 1 Secretariat later in the meet.

"He couldn't have won any better, could he?" said Michael Dilger, Pletcher's Arlington assistant.

Pleasant Strike, an Edward Evans homebred by the hot sire Smart Strike, had shown signs of this kind of race to his

connections all along, and he flashed his ability winning an off-the-turf allowance race here last month.

"His last run he was carried five wide in the first turn, and he still managed to win," Dilger said. "It was a very, very good win, and he's been well since."

Pleasant Strike benefited from a perfect trip under leading rider Rene Douglas. As Starbase and Beta Capo went out to the lead, going an opening half-mile in a solid 47.95 seconds, Douglas quickly guided Pleasant Strike to the fence around the first turn. Lovango made an early move to make it three horses across the track at the half-mile pole, and Douglas had Pleasant Strike in an ideal spot in the clear and a couple lengths behind the lead pack.

A large, heavy, powerful colt, Pleasant Strike took a few yards to find his best stride in the stretch, but once Douglas got him straightened out, Pleasant Strike proved much the best. He went on to win by 3 3/4 lengths, and was timed in 1:42.05 for 1 1/16 miles on firm turf. Lovango held second, followed by Quasicobra, with Starbase fourth. Heavily favored Vaunt disappointed,

finishing fifth.

* Jennie R. had won 3 of 23 starts entering the 2007 season, but now is 2 for 2 this year after jumping from a $50,000 claiming win June 3 to score a 1 3/4-length victory in the $48,000 Reluctant Guest Stakes. Six-year-old Jennie R, trained by Michelle Boyce, led from start to finish under E.T. Baird in the Reluctant Guest, a 1 1/8-mile grass race. Chic Dancer finished second, Arosa third, and favored Round Heels was eighth of nine. Jennie R. paid $18.60 to win and was timed in 1:48.09 on firm turf.