09/11/2008 11:00PM

Safely Kept one of many big fields


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Go figure. A week ago, Arlington Park was begging horsemen to help them fill race cards. This weekend, the entry box floweth over.

There were 117 horses on the overnight sheet for Saturday's 12-race program, and Sunday's 10-race card came in even stronger, with 113 on the overnight. That's more than 11 per race, which is as high a figure as you're going to see anywhere in this country. Switching back to a four-day racing week in September probably gave entries a shot in the arm, and the entry pattern also has followed an established cycle.

"Last year, there was a dearth of entries around Labor Day weekend, too," racing secretary Kevin Greeley said. "Then it picked back up and stayed steady through the end of the meet, and hopefully it will again this year."

Not left out of the big-field bonanza is Sunday's featured race 9, the $50,000 Safely Kept, a six-furlong Polytrack sprint for fillies and mares that attracted a field of 12. The race includes some old hands on the circuit - think Illinois-breds Pretty Jenny, Magnetic Miss, Secret Kin, Bluesbdancing, and Taylor Madison - as well as some new faces, the newest of which is Spring Awakening.

Based for the first eight starts of her career in Southern California with trainer Mike Mitchell, Spring Awakening posted a Sept. 7 breeze at Hollywood Park, but has been entered in the Safely Kept racing for trainer Mike Stidham. Spring Awakening has won 3 of her 8 starts, 6 of which came in 2007. She was fourth in her July 8 comeback race, then seventh Aug. 24 in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar, a race won by synthetic-surface ace sprinter Dearest Trickski.

No horse as brilliant as Dearest Trickski awaits at Arlington, but Spring Awakening should have her hooves full with Dhanyata. Based in Kentucky with trainer Eddie Kenneally, Dhanyata most recently raced in the $200,000 Arlington Sprint, a 5 1/2-furlong grass race in which she faced males. Dhanyata finished seventh there, but was beaten less than six lengths by Mr. Nightlinger, and can do much better in the Safely Kept. Two races back, Dhanyata rallied for third of 10 in the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap, and a similar performance Sunday might well be good enough to win.

Another horse new to the Chicago circuit is Quota, who won a Churchill Downs allowance race two starts ago.