09/11/2009 12:00AM

Selecting the right 'B' tricky


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The B's have the featured eighth race Sunday at Arlington covered.

B for Boyce, as in trainer Michele, who entered Seeyalatertater and Ava Mae. B for Block, as in trainer Chris, who entered First of February and Link to My Heart. B for Berndt, as in trainer Joel, who starts last-out winner Holly at Law. And why not B for Brian, as in Williamson and LaMew, two more trainers with entries in the Sunday feature.

Playing the name game is easy: Playing "Name the Winner?" Not so much.

It seems like the Block-trained First of February might be favored in this second-level Illinois-bred allowance race, carded for one mile on turf, but that's only a guess. Owned and bred by Richard Duchossois, First of February is a two-time turf winner at the meet, including a last-out score on Aug. 19. That narrow win came over 1 1/8 miles, but First of February cleared the maiden ranks going one mile in June, and may turn out to be a better horse at the shorter trip.

But Block's other entry, Link to My Heart, also has a chance, and neither of the Boyce horses can be ruled out, either. Seeyalatertater struggled on wet going last out, but returns to the distance over which she won sharply here in June. Ava Mae probably is her equal on talent, but drew poorly on the far outside.

Pathway, from the barn of Christine Janks, just finished second in a race like this on Aug. 23, but was beaten almost six lengths, and just edged Link to My Heart. Holly at Law, the Berndt horse, won for the first time on turf Aug. 21, and looked good doing so, but wet turf might have moved her up. Wet turf, on the other hand, could have been Souper Miss's undoing when she finished a disappointing ninth in the Pathway-Link to My Heart race. And Have Faith had a rotten post when she rallied for fifth in that same spot, her first Chicago turf start of 2009.

In other words, the Sunday feature hardly could 'B' more wide open.

* Dennis Cooper, the longtime agent for Rene Douglas, has picked up the book of veteran rider Jesus Castanon, who has started riding regularly at Arlington.

* Horses began shipping into Hawthorne Race Course on Thursday, and the Chicago-area track opens for training Monday. The Hawthorne fall meet begins Oct. 1.