Arlington Juveniles to Watch
By Tim Holland
Trainers Larry Rivelli and Mike Stidham finished the recently concluded Arlington meet first and second in the trainer standings, with each winning one of the most important juvenile events earlier this month. Rivelli saddled the colt Wellabled, who dominated the Arlington Washington Futurity (G3) while Stidham sent out Diadura to score a perhaps even more impressive win in the Arlington Washington Lassie.
WELLABLED, a $340K purchase at Ocala in April, is a son of the promising freshman sire Shackleford and broke his maiden over five furlongs in his debut at Arlington in July, drawing off to win by 7 ½ lengths. The colt was then sent to Saratoga for the Skidmore Stakes over 5 ½ furlongs on grass and set fast early fractions before being nailed late by Belmont debut winner Harlan's Harmony. Returned to Arlington’s Polytrack, Wellabled did not disappoint as the favorite when leading from the start to win the Washington Futurity by nearly eight lengths defeating nine rivals while earning a solid BRIS Speed Rating of 92.
Rivelli was quoted as saying that Wellabled did not work well on the dirt surface at Saratoga which was why he ran him on grass. However, being a son of Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Shackleford and out of an In Excess mare who won on dirt at Bay Meadows it could be suggested he was just not comfortable on the somewhat unique Saratoga main track. The conditioner also remarked that Wellabled should take to longer distances, a fair assumption given he’s out of a half-sister to Ringaskiddy, who recorded his biggest win came in the San Juan Capistrano (G1) over 1 ¾ miles.
Settling for second in the Futurity was ROMEO O ROMEO, who flattened out after making a menacing move at the top of the stretch. A $67K purchase at Keenland as a yearling, the Macho Uno colt rallied from just off the pace to break his maiden in his debut over 5 ½ furlongs at Arlington in August. Romeo O Romeo is out of $700K earner Romance Is Diane whose biggest wins came in the Hollywood Starlet (G1) and Bayakoa Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on Hollywood’s synthetic track but did win 2-of-4 starts on dirt. The Brian Williamson-trained Romeo O Romeo should be suited to traditional dirt as well as longer distances.
One race earlier on the card, DIADURA was far back early before making steady headway, bulling her way through a tight gap at the top of the stretch and drawing off to win eased down by 5 ½ lengths in the Lassie. Diadura is by Hard Spun, who has produced runners on dirt capable of going longer distances such as Wood Memorial (G1) winner Wicked Strong, and the filly is out of Daylight Promise, who won the one-mile Busanda Stakes early in her three-year-old career. Daylight Promise's sire, sprinter Five Star Day, may pose some stamina doubts but Diadura’s racing style suggests more distance will be an asset. Look for the Stidham trainee at Keeneland this fall.
Closing to finish second in the Lassie was BENNER ISLAND, a daughter of Speightstown who was coming of a narrow debut win on dirt at Indiana Downs. Benner Island is from the family of champion two-year-old filly Eliza and is out of the Awesome Again mare Spacy Tracy, winner of the Top Flight H. (G2) over a mile as a five-year-old. Benner Island cost $200K as a yearling and is one to watch in the near future at longer distances for trainer Brad Cox.
Another Arlington filly worth keeping an eye out for is SILLY FACTOR, who broke her maiden by 2 ½ lengths after vying for the lead from the start of a 5 ½-furlong test in late August. This heat can be tabbed as a key race since runner-up R NAJA subsequently finished a fine third behind the above discussed Diadura in the Lassie. Other defeated rivals include Lovely Bernardette and Hotshot Anna, impressive next-out winners at Churchill and Canterbury, respectively.
The Wesley Ward trained Silly Factor is a daughter of speedy freshman sire The Factor and is out of Find Humor, who finished third in the Iowa Oaks (G3) and counts Grade 2 winner Quick Wit as a full-sister. Silly Factor’s pedigree suggests turf and shorter distances will be her forte.
Wellabled & Diadura photos courtesy of Four Footed Photos