05/21/2008 11:00PM

Sporting Art outrunning his pedigree


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - What the heck is going on with the 12-year-old sire Doneraile Court? Until this year, Doneraile Court had not fathered a runner who earned more than $313,000, but three of his progeny currently racing have surpassed that mark. The Brazilian filly Cocoa Beach tops the list, but right behind her come the California-based 3-year-old filly Ariege, and the 3-year-old colt Sporting Art, who brings his act to Chicago for the Arlington Classic on Saturday at Arlington Park.

Sporting Art, in from Belmont for trainer Christophe Clement, figures to be the favorite under Rene Douglas in the Classic, which drew 10 entries. A 1 1/16-mile turf race, the Classic shares top billing Saturday with the $200,000 American 1,000 Guineas (race 6) and the $100,000 Hanshin (race 9).

Not only is Sporting Art by Doneraile Court, he sold once at auction for $17,000, and another time for $20,000, plus he is out of a mare by the $2,500 sire Run Softly. The pedigree is light on star power, and seemingly even lighter on turf influences, but Sporting Art loves grass, on which he has won 4 of 6 starts.

Imported from England after a solid 2007 campaign, Sporting Art finished second by a neck in an allowance race to start his 2008 campaign, then beat 10 rivals in the Palm Beach Stakes and 10 more in the April 26 Calder Derby. Both victories came over 1 1/8 miles, but Saturday's slightly shorter trip should not be an issue.

Locally based trainer Chris Block will tackle Sporting Art with two horses, Amazing Results and Free Fighter. Amazing Results narrowly won a minor Fair Grounds turf stakes against return rival Gangbuster when last seen March 22, and has been pointed to this start for several weeks, Block said. Free Fighter hated boggy turf when he finished last of nine May 2 in the American Turf at Churchill.

"I'd love to get him on a firm turf course," Block said.

Prime Realestate, a very late runner, finished a close fifth behind Sporting Art in the Palm Beach and returned to win a Keeneland turf allowance race last month.

"He ran a big race at Keeneland, and he's training good now," trainer Wayne Catalano said.

Sebastian County, winner of the Northern Spur last out at Oaklawn, makes his grass debut Saturday for trainer Don von Hemel.

"He may not run his best on it, but he should handle it," Von Hemel said. "I'd like to find out if he can run on turf, and this is the time to do it."