08/29/2008 11:00PM

Sandburr leads a turf parade


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Arlington's almost-all-turf Labor Day card comes at an ideal time, with Polytrack races struggling to attract great interest among horsemen here this week.

True to recent form, Monday's lone race on the main track drew a small field - six horses in a $50,000 claimer - but after that, it is grass only the rest of the afternoon, with several decent and potentially playable turf races the rest of the way. And the one thing that could really spoil the show, rain, makes no kind of appearance in the Monday forecast.

The day's feature is race 4, a high-level 1 1/8-mile allowance race also open to $62,500 claimers. By far the most accomplished animal among seven entered is Sandburr, a 9-year-old warhorse who has won 16 races and more than $456,000 in a long career, much of it in the claiming ranks. As admirable as Sandburr is, his grass record stands at 0-1-2 from 11 starts, and Sandburr generally has been most effective at distances from a mile to 1 1/16 miles.

Bettors could make Sandburr second choice behind Dastardly Deeds, or third choice behind that horse and Monashee Gold. Dastardly Deeds was on the right end of a photo finish in a grass race here May 18, and the wrong end of one Aug. 6. Those races, both on soft turf, have been the only two for Dastardly Deeds since he returned from a 14-month layoff. Dastardly Deeds might have a little more to give this time, but perhaps not a great deal more.

Monashee Gold, on the other hand, looks like he could step forward and deliver in Monday's fourth. In from Kentucky for trainer Dale Romans, Monashee Gold came back from his own 13-month layoff here about an hour after the Arlington Million. Irish-bred and making his fifth start, Monashee Gold pressed a soft pace, took over the lead in midstretch, but was passed by three horses in the final 100 yards or so - kind of a classic comeback race. Typical second-out improvement would make Monashee Gold formidable.

Others to watch for on the Arlington Labor Day grass:

* Rainbows Arch, a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Cloudy's Knight, makes his second turf start in race 6, a one-mile maiden special weight.

* Sr. Henry, ninth in the Secretariat, will try to rebound in race 8, an entry-level grass race. To do so, he will have to overcome his difficult outside draw.

* In race 7, turf-bred Calamus comes back from an epic layoff. He won his career debut on Nov. 5, 2005 on Churchill's main track and has not raced since.