While the Arlington Million is the headlining race this Saturday at Chicago’s Arlington Park, the card there features two other Grade 1 turf events which ought to prove challenging for horseplayers, with large fields lined up for each race.
Kicking things off is the G3 American St. Leger Stakes at Arlington, contested over 1 11/16 miles on the turf. Da Big Hoss from the barn of Michael Maker is the top entrant, but the late-running 5-year-old must overcome a field of 11 to hit the wire first. A very interesting entrant is Clondaw Warrior, who has raced both on the flat and over hurdles for trainer William Mullins overseas; he is a consistent type, boasting a record of 11-5-6 from 38 starts, and looks like he will be running on late along with Da Big Hoss. As a slight longshot play, listed at 10-1 on the morning line is Billabong. The veteran 7-year-old has a record of 11 wins from 21 starts, and was most recently second in a Group 1 race in Qatar. Perhaps the strongest mark benefiting the horse is that he has gained the services of Flavien Prat, currently the leading rider at Del Mar, in Saturday’s race.
In the G1 Secretariat Stakes, held for 3-year-olds over 1 1/4 miles of Arlington’s turf, the top choice could come down to either a Chad Brown or an Aidan O’Brien trainee. Beach Patrol, from the stable of the former, most recently finished third by just 1 1/2 lengths in the Belmont Derby after going four-wide on both turns, and could be the top contender here. The O’Brien trained Long Island Sound was sixth in the same race, though beaten only 1 1/4 lengths by Beach Patrol in third. Another entrant from that race is Surgical Strike, who finished fifth, fighting on but falling back after having gained third at the top of the lane. Interestingly, Kentucky Derby contender Cherry Wine is also entered in the field, trying turf for the fourth time in his career. He finished second and third in maiden special weight events on the surface, before breaking his maiden by a romping 9 1/4 lengths when the race was taken off the turf and run over a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs.
In The G1 Beverly D Stakes, for fillies and mares over 1 3/16 miles on the turf, the post-time favorite will likely be the Chad Brown trainee Sea Calisi, most recently second to Dacita in the New York Stakes. Dacita went on to win the G1 Diana two weeks ago, and Guapaza, who finished third behind Sea Calisi in the New York, also got up to win next out in the G3 Waya Stakes. However, Sea Calisi drew post 13 in a field of 14, which may make finding her customary position mid-pack a serious challenge. Ballydoyle was a disappointing 13th in the Belmont Oaks last out, but if Aidan O’Brien has entered her again, she must have proven that she has regained some form; the filly is a Group 1 winner overseas. O’Brien also enters Coolmore, third in the Belmont Oaks last out. Graham Motion’s Faufiler also has a shot off her win in the G3 Modesty last out over the Arlington surface.
Up in Saratoga, the G2 Adirondack features 2-year-old fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track. Top entrants include trainees of Steve Asmussen, Wesley Ward, and Rudy Rodriguez in a six-horse field.
The G1 Arlington Million will be held over 1 1/4 miles on the turf with a field of 13 entrants. Last year’s winner, fan favorite The Pizza Man, will have a tough time of it this year, listed at 10-1 on the morning line off a series of sub-par performances for the 7-year-old son of English Channel. The likely favorite’s position will be taken up by the Charles Appleby-trained Tryster, a Group 1 winner in Dubai, third in this year’s Dubai Turf. Mark Casse’s World Approval most recently won the G1 United Nations, and enters this race off consistent works at Saratoga. Wake Forest won the G1 Man O War, then was third in the United Nations, prior to this race for trainer Chad Brown. Deauville won the Belmont Derby over the same distance last out, and will look to double up for trainer Aidan O’Brien before returning overseas. Mondialiste, second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile to the mighty Tepin, has struggled since then, but may be nearing his old form as he was most recently second in a Group 2 at York.
Saratoga’s G1 Fourstardave Handicap is another wide open affair, with Tourist likely taking the spot of favorite at post time. The Bill Mott trainee was most recently second in the G1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita, and the winner, Midnight Storm, came back to capture another Grade 1 in his next start. Fans will be rooting for Ring Weekend in his second start off more than a year layoff; he was second in a G2 at Pimlico last out in May. Takeover Target just defeated Ring Weekend by a neck in that race, then came back to run fourth in the G3 Poker at Belmont in his last out. Grand Arch will be entered to defend his title in this race.
Closing out the card at Arlington is the G3 Pucker Up Stakes, at nine furlongs on the turf for a field of 14 3-year-old fillies. Top choice will be the Chad Brown trainee Noble Beauty, to be piloted by Florent Geroux; she was most recently eighth in the Belmont Oaks.
At Del Mar Saturday, the highlight is the G2 Best Pal Stakes, at 6 1/2 furlongs for juveniles. Bob Baffert’s trainee Klimt is the likely favorite off a 6 1/4 length maiden score last out.
On Sunday, the Saratoga Special highlights the Spa card as juveniles traverse 6 1/2 furlongs on the east coast. A field of five is lead by the talented Recruiting Ready, second in the G2 Bashford Manor in just his second start. Todd Pletcher’s Sonic Mule was strong first out at Monmouth, and should take up the second favorite position here.
Closing out the weekend is Emerald Downs’ Longacres Mile, in which Stryker Phd will try for a third in a row. He will face a tough field of 11, led by local O B Harbor.
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