08/19/2009 11:00PM

Two old-timers still stakes caliber


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - There is news this week of 10-year-old Better Talk Now's imminent retirement out east. Here at Arlington, there also are old-timers still going strong enough for stakes, with no one in the camp of either Silverfoot or Coach Jimi Lee talking retirement just yet.

What Silverfoot's trainer Dallas Stewart said Thursday, in fact, was that the 9-year-old gray gelding is headed back to Chicago from his base at Churchill Downs early next month to try and win the Stars and Stripes Handicap for the second year in a row.

"That's the plan right now," said Stewart. "He's been training great. He's just been having a wonderful year."

Silverfoot, an 11-time winner, will surpass $1 million in career earnings should he win the $125,000 Stars and Stripes on Sept. 7. In the race's 2008 edition, he beat Telling, who won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer last weekend at Saratoga and who will pass the Stars and Stripes this year. Silverfoot won the $54,000 The Tin Man Stakes here in his 2009 debut and finished a close sixth in the Arlington Handicap. His connections chose to skip the Arlington Million, a race in which Silverfoot finished fourth in 2008.

Silverfoot is a long-winded grass horse, while 9-year-old Coach Jimi Lee plies his trade in sprints. Dirt sprints. And to be even more specific, dirt sprints at Prairie Meadows.

"Can they keep Prairie Meadows open all year?" trainer Jim DiVito wanted to know Thursday afternoon.

Coach Jimi Lee does not do synthetics, but he has 5 wins and 5 seconds from 10 Prairie Meadows starts, and holds the track record for six furlongs there (as well as the Illinois state record for the distance). Coach Jimi Lee basically looked done over the winter at Gulfstream Park, where he was beaten 34 lengths combined in two starts.

"Physically, he just didn't look good over the winter," DiVito said. "Sure, we talked about retirement."

But after a Polytrack sixth here in June, Coach Jimi Lee got back to Prairie Meadows, and got back on track. He finished second for a $35,000 claiming tag, second under allowance conditions, and second last out in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Sprint. Coach Jimi Lee is even closer than Silverfoot to the million-dollar mark, with $951,053 in earnings - and still counting, even at this advanced age.

Win machine changes hands again

Something totally predictable happened here Wednesday afternoon: Drivingmaxandmitzi won a horse race.

That made an amazing 21 victories in 43 career starts for Drivingmaxandmitzi, a 7-year-old Skip Away gelding who was banked nearly $300,000 while racing for 8 different trainers. The ninth is the former Bob Baffert assistant John Good, who took Drivingmaxandmitzi for himself for $35,000 out of an easy grass win here Wednesday. That's six victories in his last seven starts for Drivingmaxandmitzi, who was saddled by trainer Hector Magana on Wednesday.

Drivingmaxandmitzi made his career debut in a $12,500 maiden-claimer, and has been a claiming and starter horse for most of his career. Still eligible for a third-level allowance race, Drivingmaxandmitzi obviously has his physical issues. But whatever aches and pains trouble him, they apparently subside when he is coming with his typical big stretch run.

* Somewhat strangely, the feature here on a mid-summer Saturday is an Illinois-bred entry-level sprint on Polytrack. Eight were entered in race 9, with Executive Coach the potential favorite for DiVito.