08/06/2010 8:46PM

Questions for top two choices at Arlington


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Apple Martini and Home’s the Best might well be the top two betting choices in the featured fifth race on Sunday at Arlington, but there are concerns of time and distance in play.

Apple Martini raced and won barely more than two weeks ago, and trainer Chris Block is uncertain what to expect from the short turnaround. Home’s the Best raced and won by more than five lengths on July 16, but that victory came in a one-turn mile.

Sunday’s race, a third-level allowance also open to $62,500 claimers, is carded for 1 1/16 miles, but the longer race distance utilizes a short stretch run, and that may work against Home’s the Best.

“I’d rather have the whole stretch,” said Home’s the Best’s trainer, Brian Williamson. “I believe that’s better for her. If we can get her going a little bit early, that would help.”

Getting going a little bit early in short-stretch Arlington routes requires a horse to accelerate on the turn. Home’s the Best, a late-running 6-year-old gray mare, seems to do her best work on the straightaway. The presence of three possible pace players – Viva Vino, Fighter Wing, and Souper Miss – could lead to a quick pace that would make Home’s the Best’s job easier.

The 5-year-old Apple Martini has wins on Polytrack, turf, and dirt, but is has begun to look like Arlington’s synthetic surface brings out her best. With her recent win an off-the-turf race at this distance and a similar class level, Apple Martini has finished first in three of her five synthetic-surface starts. The question is whether she can produce her best form coming back on unusually short rest.

“I’m not sure how that’s going to work out,” Block said. “My options were kind of limited with her. Some of these horses will tell you if they’re knocked out. She’s not like that. She just goes about her business.”

Souper Miss got run over by Home’s the Best in the stretch last time, but might match up better in a two-turn race. She, however, appears to require dirt racing for a peak performance.