09/05/2006 12:00AM

Statebreds fit in open turf race


CHICAGO - Arlington struggled to attract horses for its races last week, but perhaps this meet will go out with more of a shout than a whimper after all, since Thursday's card, sixth-from-last in the 2006 Arlington season, drew a surprisingly healthy 85 entries.

In the normal place of a feature - race 8 on a nine-race card - sits a highly bettable entry-level turf allowance race, while the day's highest-class race is the third, a third-level allowance also open to $62,500 claimers and carded for 1 1/16 miles on turf.

The race drew seven entries - four of them Illinois-breds. Brazilian-bred scratched from the Claire Marine, an overnight stakes last Sunday, in favor of this allowance and could contend, and Kentucky-bred Josefina's Pride, second last out in a race at this class level, is one of the obvious prime players.

The Illinois-bred faction includes Sara's Tune, who is better on dirt than turf, and Unreal Rocket, a 3-year-old filly who never has tried the grass. Unreal Rocket is a sharp horse, however, having won a statebred-restricted allowance race by seven lengths on July 19 before finishing a solid second to the promising filly Morner in an overnight sprint stakes Aug. 12. Unreal Rocket's dam is by Nureyev, so grass might not be out of the question.

has been one of the more reliable female Illinois-bred turf horses of the last several seasons, and can contend for her third win in 2006 with the right pace setup. But while Lighthouse Lil sometimes needs an honest pace for her best, improving Lady Lionel - the final Illinois-bred - seems a little more capable of making her own race. Lady Lionel has faced only statebred competition the last two years, and will be tested for class Thursday, but she has won two of her last three starts and could get an ideal trip from post 1 under savvy turf rider Carlos Marquez Jr.

Dreaming of Anna likely to stay home

Dreaming of Anna is among the most promising 2-year-old fillies stabled this summer at Arlington, and it now seems likely that she will make her next start at Arlington, too. Trainer Wayne Catalano said Tuesday that snags in shipping Dreaming of Anna to Woodbine for the Natalma Stakes, a turf race, made Sunday's Arlington-Washington Lassie the more appealing option.