08/25/2010 2:22PM

Yankee Injunuity returns to races


Yankee Injunuity, who at one point last year was a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, makes his first start since February in the featured sixth race on Friday at Arlington Park.

Yankee Injunuity was one of seven horses entered in a 5 1/2-furlong turf race open to third-level allowance horses, horses without two wins in 2010, and $62,500 claimers. Grass-debuting Mam Bird, a three-time winner at the meet, figures to provide Yankee Injunuity’s chief opposition.

Six-year-old Yankee Injunuity, owned by Encore Racing Stable and Jim McMullen, and trained by McMullen, won the $200,000 Arlington Sprint by a neck over high-class Chamberlain Bridge last summer, thus qualifying for a spot in the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. But when the Breeders’ Cup rolled around about four months later, a trip to California seemed imprudent to McMullen.

“He wasn’t good enough at the time to go out there and give it 100 percent,” McMullen said. “Since he was lightly raced, I took him to Tampa and messed around with him a little. I should have just turned him out.”

Yankee Injunuity made two Tampa turf-sprint starts, performing decently but below his best form. In February, McMullen did what he said he should have done the previous fall and sent Yankee Injunuity to the farm for a lengthy break. He returned to racetrack training about two months ago, McMullen said, looking better for his rest.

“So far, he seems good,” said McMullen. “He actually has a little freer motion in the mornings this year, so I’m expecting good things.”

McMullen said he entered Yankee Injunuity in a race like Friday’s last month that failed to attract sufficient entries to be carded. “In reality, he’s probably been ready to run three weeks or so,” McMullen said.

Yankee Injunuity drew the rail for Friday’s race, the same place from which he won the Arlington Sprint last summer. Jockey E.T. Baird, aboard for that stake win, has the mount.

Mam Bird won three straight races earlier this summer when moved from the East Coast to the Arlington barn of trainer Wayne Catalano and switched to synthetic-surface racing. Mam Bird has held form his last two starts, most recently finishing third in a quickly run Polytrack allowance race, but has not really improved since May. A slightly shorter distance and a change in surface Friday, however, could move Mam Bird forward again.

“He’s got a little turf pedigree, I think,” Catalano said. “He’s doing very well.”