08/03/2010 4:38PM

Taking a shot against the favorite at Arlington


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The morning-line maker at Arlington Park, Joe Kristufek, does not hesitate to assign defined favoritism to a particular horse when such a move is merited. And the fact that Kristufek made a 7-2 morning-line favorite says all one needs to know about featured race 8 on Thursday at Arlington: This entry-level turf-sprint allowance race is wide open.

That most tepid morning-line chalk is one My Man Moran, whose most recent win four starts ago came in a $10,000 conditioned claimer. My Man Moran subsequently finished second, fourth, and second again when bumped up to allowance competition by trainer Jerry Quinn. In his last start, My Man Moran turned in a career-best performance on turf here June 17.

But since then, My Man Moran’s only publicly recorded exercise was a mild half-mile Polytrack breeze July 26. My Man Moran, with just 3 wins in 18 starts, would have been opposable coming back on regular rest; this longer break offers more encouragement to look elsewhere.

Water Mill hasn’t raced since February, but he is a horse who has fired fresh in the past. In fact, perhaps the best race among 13 in Water Mill’s career came on Nov. 15, 2009, his first start in more than 10 months. Water Mill rallied sharply that day at Fair Grounds to finish second in a race at this class level, one of only two turf-sprint tries in Water Mill’s career. His trainer, Kentucky-based Chris Speckert, has won with 4 of 25 horses shipping into Arlington through the years, and those winners have produced a $2.20 return on investment. At 10-1 on the morning line, Water Mill should offer value, and with as many as six pace factors in the race, his late run could prove effective for jockey James Graham.

No horse in the Thursday feature has won at a bigger price than Skiff’s Argument, who was a dime short of 40-1 in his career debut here July 10, and won it by a neck for trainer Jim McMullen. Skiff’s Argument had a clean pressing trip that day while others behind him had trouble, but he is well drawn on the outside for a similar journey, and has turned in a sharp half-mile work since his debut upset.

Turf-debuting Captain Jack has displayed ability sufficient to contend, and races with blinkers added by trainer Tony Granitz.