Updated on 09/17/2011 10:46AM

Tic N Tin, at 8, goes for repeat


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In the $75,000 White Oak Handicap, you will find a horse with two starts and a horse with 73, and somewhere in between you may find the White Oak winner.

From top to bottom, there may not be a better race than the six-furlong White Oak, part of Saturday's six-stakes Prairie State Festival at Arlington. And even novices like Cart Dancer, the two-race wonder, or the aging Tic N Tin are not without a chance.

Tic N Tin won last year's White Oak, but was that one of his last hurrahs? Now an 8-year-old, Tic N Tin has started five times this year with only a place finish to show for the campaign.

"I don't think this is it yet," said Tic N Tin's owner and trainer, Ron Brandenburg. "It is hard to know when they get older. Sometimes they'll lose it."

Tic N Tin finished seventh in a seven-furlong statebred overnight handicap here June 1, but the Fairmount Park-based Brandenburg saw what he wanted. "Three-quarters is as far as he can go. When he had to run hard for the lead, he got tired," Brandenburg said.

Poised to dethrone Tic N Tin are old rivals like Classic Appeal, Out of My Way, and Silver Bid, and a new player in from Maryland, Take Achance on Me. Take Achance on Me has never faced statebreds and already has put together a strong season in open races.

His last three starts came on turf, but trainer Tony Aguirre said Take Achance on Me "can run on dirt, on anything. He just needs to get a clean trip."

Out of My Way has won two straight, the last a narrow decision over Silver Bid, who saves his best for Illinois-bred stakes.

Springfield: Distance the question

In the $75,000 Springfield, for 3-year-olds at a mile on dirt, the issue seems quite simple: can Shandy get the distance?

If yes, Shandy will tally his third straight victory, having easily beaten many of these rivals in convincing wins his last two starts.

"He's not really bred to go this far," trainer Richard Hazelton said. "In the morning, we've been trying to get him to relax. He really is training well, but it seems like every time I have him in a big race, he throws in a clunker."

Many legitimate contenders will test Shandy - Home of Stars, My Beau Mister Joe, Wiggins, Lord Jones, and He's Hammered all belong on the list.

Home of Stars will be making his first start against statebreds since his career debut, and he has raced competitively in open company.

"He got a foot bruise, and we were fighting that, but he's over it now and he's doing real good," said trainer Bobby Springer.

Lincoln Heritage: Ellie's Rose set

In a perfect world, Ellie's Rose would have had a nice prep race about a month before Saturday's Lincoln Heritage Stakes. She would find a field packed with pace to set up her strong late kick.

Ellie's Rose got her prep and she should get her pace, so right now, her world appears idyllic. A powerful winner of last year's Lincoln Heritage - a 1 1/16-mile turf race for females - Ellie's Rose is in a great position to repeat.

Ellie's Rose finished sixth in a comeback race here May 24, but was beaten only about four lengths and derived essential conditioning from the start.

"She doesn't need a whole lot of prep, but she did need that one," said trainer Michelle Boyce.

On paper, as many as four horses will force the issue in the Lincoln Heritage, and that would set the race up perfectly for Ellie's Rose, who flies through the stretch when she's at her best.

Purple Violet: Julie's Prize looks good

Julie's Prize has won four races in a row, two of them six-figure statebred stakes. She wins at one turn and two, on fast and wet going, and Julie's Prize clearly is the horse to beat in the $75,000 Purple Violet, a one-mile dirt race for 3-year-old fillies.

"Julie's hickory," said Tony Mitchell, who trains Julie's Prize for owner Richard Otto.

But Julie's Prize has competition. Gumbo Love had a less-than-ideal trip when Julie's Prize beat her in an overnight handicap here last month, and Keeping the Gold enters off a dominant allowance victory here for trainer Chris Block.

"She's coming in fresh, and that's what we wanted," Block said.

And finally there is My Sweet Heart, a half-sister to War Emblem who has been pointed to this spot by trainer Frank Springer.

Isaac Murphy: Three-way rematch

Win Won and Gracility finished ahead of Seven Brides in an overnight handicap here May 31. The trio square off again Saturday in the six-furlong Isaac Murphy, and in this case, give an edge to the beaten horse.

Seven Brides was pinned down on a dead rail in her last start, but she never stopped running.

"She was third, but it was the best race she's ever run," said trainer Richard Hazelton.

All Hazelton wanted for Saturday was an outside post, and he got it. Seven Brides breaks from post 9 and may have a tactical edge on the two horses that beat her last time and Summer Mis, who wheels back a week after a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup.