06/28/2006 11:00PM

Storm Treasure appears sharpest in Classic


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Eleventh of 20 in the Kentucky Derby and third to the good colt Brilliant in the Grade 2 Jefferson Cup, Storm Treasure could be the one for the Arlington Classic on Saturday at Arlington Park.

comes to Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 turf race from the Churchill Downs base of his trainer, Steve Asmussen, but 3-year-old grass horses are converging here from all over globe. Desert Wheat is a Louisiana-bred based at a training center in east Texas; Icy Ridge flies in from Southern California for trainer Mike Puhich, who stabled last summer at Arlington; and Proudinsky arrived Wednesday after traveling from Germany.

The others in the 1 1/16-mile race are , who won a second-level turf allowance on this course May 20; and Arbuckle Bandit, slated to make his turf debut.

None has the recent resume of Storm Treasure, who finished a distant second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, and who beat nine of 19 rivals after breaking from post 19 in the Derby. Ten days later, Storm Treasure breezed on grass, foreshadowing his summer campaign, but it was after the March 18 Tampa Bay Derby that Asmussen first began thinking turf.

"He jumped up and down on the dirt in that race," said Asmussen.

Storm Treasure lost his turf debut, but ran well in it, finishing fast behind a false pace for third in the Jefferson Cup on June 17.

"He came home nicely," said Asmussen.

Storm Treasure returns on only two weeks' rest, but has raced only once a month this season, and looked like a fresh enough horse last time out.

Handicappers will puzzle over Proudinsky's German form: a 15-length maiden win at Dusseldorf and a second-place finish in a listed stakes at Dortmund. Uber-owner Gary Tanaka purchased the colt after his second start, but Proudinsky will run in the name of his German trainer, Mario Hofer. If Proudinsky runs well Saturday, he will go to the Virginia Derby, according to Joe Miller, an assistant to Tanaka's racing manager.

Equal Opportunity earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 winning the Awad Stakes here, but got a perfect setup in that race and beat only four rivals. Desert Wheat is a three-time turf winner with some quality, and an improving, lightly raced horse like Creative Force or Kingship could step up here.

"I'm jumping him up off a maiden win, but he ran big on grass for me, and they're only 3 once," said Kingship's trainer, Ronny Werner.