The 76th running Saturday of $100,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) at Arlington Park is shaping up to be wide-open as three of the eight horses entered are still maidens and none have ever run in a stakes race.
Trainer Donnie Von Hemel is looking to score his second victory in the Futurity when he sends Caleb’s Posse to the starting gate as the 5-2 lukewarm morning-line favorite. Von Hemmel won the Futurity in 1994 with Evansville Slew.
In his second start at Arlington on August 14, Caleb’s Posse broke his maiden in a 5 ½ - furlong sprint en route to a 2 ¾ -length win over runner-up Major Gain (3-1) who starts from post three and is one of three entries for trainer Wayne Catalano.
In his maiden win, Caleb’s Posse earned a 97 Brisnet Speed Figure, the highest of all entered in the Futurity. A sharp bullet work out on September 3 indicates that Caleb’s Posse should be ready to run another good race.
This will be Caleb’s Posse first attempt at a mile but with Posse as his sire and Slewacide as the damsire, he should have enough speed and stamina to get the distance. To date, Posse’s 2-year-old runners have 11 wins in 24 starts for 46 percent.
Caleb’s Posse is a descendent of the Northern Dancer sire line and since 1990 there have been three horses from that line to win the Futurity: Dixie Band (2009), Cactus Ridge (2003) and Cowboy Dan (1997).
Of Catalano’s three entries, Impersonator (9-2) is the one I like the most.
Impersonator comes into the race with a maiden win in a 7-furlong sprint at Arlington on August 22. Impersonator earned an 88 speed figure for that effort and has improved in both of his previous two starts.
Like Caleb’s Posse, Impersonator is a descendent of the Northern Dancer sire line and the juvenile runners of his sire, Tale of The Cat, have 12 wins in 29 starts for 41 percent.
In his maiden debut, Wheemaway (12-1) was a fast-closing finisher who came from sixth place at the top of the stretch to finish third – 2 ½ -lengths behind Impersonator. Wheemaway earned an 84 speed figure and has room to improve off of that effort.
I really like the pedigree of Wheemaway and he’s my top long shot pick.
His sire, Victory Gallop, won the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1) en route to a win in the 1998 Belmont Stakes (G1). His grandsire, Cryptoclearance, ran second to Bet Twice in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and his damsire, Pine Bluff, also won the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby en route to victory the 1992 Preakness Stakes (G1).
Victory Gallop’s juvenile runners have three wins in 14 starts for 21 percent.
Wheemaway is a descendent of the Mr. Prospector sire line and since 1990 there have been five horses from that line to win the Futurity: Got The Last Laugh (dead-heated with Officer Rocket, 2006), Sorcerer’s Stone (2005), Most Feared (2002), Publication (2001) and Hansel (1990).
Rough Sailing comes into the race as the 4-1 morning-line third-choice for trainer Michael Stidham.
Despite traffic problems at the three-sixteenths pole, and running 6-wide, Rough Sailing came from seventh at the top of the stretch to win his maiden debut, going one mile on the turf, by 2-lengths at Arlington Park on August 8.
The time for the race was a slow 1:42.32 but if jockey Michael Baze keeps Rough Sailing out of traffic problems and closer to the pace he should be competitive.
With Mizzen Mast as his sire and Woodman (sire of 1990 Futurity winner Hansel) as the damsire, Rough Sailing has the breeding to easily get the distance of the Futurity. Mizzen Mast’s juvenile runners have five wins in 11 starts for 45 percent.