08/09/2009 11:00PM

'Venetian' gets back on Poly


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - When she was based in New York with trainer Shug McGaughey earlier this year, Venetian Causeway got mentioned as a possible runner in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron. Turned out she did not ship for that race, but Venetian Causeway wound up at Arlington anyway, moved into the barn of trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

When Von Hemel entered Venetian Causeway in a second-level turf allowance race July 10, in which Venetian Causeway finished fifth, he said it was for lack of a suitable spot on Polytrack - the main reason Venetian Causeway was sent to Arlington. Now Venetian Causeway has her spot, a 1 1/16-mile, two-turn Polytrack second-level allowance, the featured eighth race Wednesday at Arlington. Handicappers, however, must ask themselves if Venetian Causeway is good enough to capitalize.

Venetian Causeway has twice raced over Keeneland Polytrack, finishing a distant third going seven furlongs during spring 2008 but winning an entry-level allowance there this past spring, a victory that fueled the notion that Venetian Causeway is a Polytrack stakes horse waiting to happen. But Venetian Causeway got an ideal setup in that win, closing into a quick pace for a nine-furlong race, and she beat just seven rivals of fairly suspect quality. Maybe she will indeed break through this time, but there are others to consider.

Mona Lisa, German-bred and German-campaigned through last fall, won her U.S. debut July 18, moving from seventh at the stretch call to first at the wire in an entry-level turf allowance. Overseas, she tried Polytrack once and ran poorly at the Deauville course in France, but that start came almost two years ago and was in a sprint. Asked if Mona Lisa could reproduce her sharp recent grass win on Arlington's synthetic surface, trainer Wayne Catalano answered in the affirmative.

"If you see her workouts, you'd have to say yes," Catalano said. "I believe [Polytrack's] the reason they sent her this way."

Also worthy of note is likely pacesetter Peyote Patty, who is being asked to go two turns for the first time while moving from Illinois-breds into open allowance competition. That's a lot to bite off, but Peyote Patty has won two in a row this meet and was more impressive going a one-turn mile July 8 than she was sprinting on May 23. If allowed a clear early lead, she could be dangerous.