09/15/2009 11:00PM

Win Willy makes return in Poly sprint


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The thought a month ago was that Win Willy might be ready for his first start since the April 11 Arkansas Derby sometime late this summer or early this fall at Remington Park. But the spot for Win Willy's comeback is the featured ninth race Thursday at Arlington Park.

Win Willy was one of eight horses entered in Thursday's feature, a multi-conditioned allowance race also open to $62,500 claimers. The race is carded for 6 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack and might as well be dubbed the Robertson Family Special.

Win Willy is trained by Mac Robertson, who also entered King A.J. in the race. Mac's father, Hugh, also put in two, Celluloid Hero and Trying Brian. All, save Win Willy, have spent time with both father and son, whose seasons converge at Oaklawn Park before separating the rest of the year.

Win Willy has been training for his comeback this summer at Arlington, overseen by Hugh Robertson, but it was at Oaklawn that Win Willy made his name. He won an entry-level sprint allowance race there before pulling a 56-1 upset over heavily favored Old Fashioned in the Rebel Stakes. And Win Willy's fourth in the Arkansas Derby was not a bad effort, either. He probably regressed a touch off the Rebel peak, and in any case was caught wide in the race while checking in two lengths behind multiple Grade 1 winner Summer Bird. Win Willy would have started in the Kentucky Derby but came up with an ankle injury days before the race that forced him to miss the Triple Crown and most of the summer.

While Win Willy's signature victory came around two turns, he is two-time sprint winner as well. But the main question Thursday is one of surface, not distance, since Win Willy has never started on a synthetic track. He has, however, posted six works over Arlington's Polytrack, and with plenty of speed entered, the race should set up well for Win Willy and jockey Jesus Castanon.

Of the other Robertsons, Trying Brian has some appeal. He is 2 for 2 on synthetic surfaces and was impressive winning an allowance race here earlier this meet at a six-furlong distance probably shorter than his best.

Truelyonbroadway missed by a head at a similar class level here Aug. 16 and has come around nicely in recent starts for leading trainer Wayne Catalano.