07/23/2007 11:00PM

Turf sprint looks like a puzzler


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - "You gotta be in it to win it" is a cliche. "You gotta know who's in it to bet on it" is the story line for the featured eighth race Thursday at Arlington.

Yes, we know who was entered in it - it being a five-furlong turf race for third-level allowance horses or $62,500 claimers. Entries were taken Saturday, and 10 names were called out. This much is certain: Saint's Relic is entered for the main track only. From there, things grow ever murkier.

First, there is the coupled entry of Mr. Mabee and Magnus One. Mr. Mabee is pretty much a turf horse, while Magnus One has gone 0-0-0 in his 3 turf starts, while showing recent competitive form on Polytrack. But since the two have different jockeys named, who knows what trainer Roger Brueggemann will do.

What about Jack Grant? Just claimed for $50,000, he has never attempted a turf race. Neither has fellow 3-year-old Run Alex Run, who was good enough to finish third in the Matt Winn Stakes earlier this year at Churchill Downs. And what of Last Gran Standing? A 4-year-old Illinois-bred, Last Gran Standing - who was entered under the claiming option - looks like a major player on Polytrack, but he, too, has yet to race on grass.

Want more complexity? The father-son trainer combo of Hugh and Mac Robertson each entered a horse, Warrior Within and Sub Futz Jr, and they race uncoupled. Both have shown ability on turf, dirt, and Polytrack, and could start and contend regardless of the surface. But here we do find a little firm ground on which to stand - the serious trouble Warrior Within encountered in his most recent start.

That came June 7, when Warrior Within finished fourth, beaten less than a length, in a $35,000 turf-sprint claimer. Just as Warrior Within had geared up for a potential winning run that day, jockey Jesse Lantz found himself in heavy stretch traffic, and by the time Warrior Within was clear, it was too late. Arlington has since hosted another similarly priced turf-sprint claimer, and seems noteworthy that Warrior Within was held out for this higher claiming price.

Is Warrior Within good enough for this higher class? Maybe. He was claimed for $40,000 this past spring, and last year he ran well enough in grass sprints to finish third in a Colonial Downs stakes.

Two other grass contenders merit mention. The estimable Jump for Joyeaux has continued to churn out wins at age 7, with three already this year, including two straight $50,000 claiming victories in Churchill turf sprints. And No Fault appears to have a distinct fondness for the Arlington turf, with turf-sprint victories here last summer and on June 3.