For a Chicago horse racing fan, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Most fans are like the father pushing in the shopping cart in this back-to-school commercial:
Now that the jumping for glee is done, time to get into handicapping the apex race of the day, the meet, the year. The Arlington Million.
WGN will show the race between 5pm and 6pm CT live for your viewing pleasure.
Arlington Park -- Race 11 -- G1 Arlington Million -- 1 1/4 miles on turf -- post time 5:44 pm CT
It's not the strongest of Arlington Millions on paper, with only three G1 winners (LITTLE MIKE, WIGMORE HALL, and TREASURE BEACH) in the field. With the morning line favorite at a chilly 4-1 the Arlington Handicap runner-up, BOISTEROUS.
Picks and Ponderings will take someone not of those four, AFSARE. He's made four starts this year, none worse than fourth including a win in a listed stakes at Sandown in the UK, and a second last time at York. The Sandown win was at today's 1 1/4 mile distance, where he's got a sparkling seven start, three win, two third record. Second to fellow entrant CRACKERJACK KING three back. K. Fallon takes the call, and should get a nice pressing/closing trip with adequate pace from LITTLE MIKE and CHEROKEE LORD. The Buick/Gosden team selected on top in the American St. Leger are represented here with COLOMBIAN, who was a winner of a G3 at today's ten panel distance at Sandown three back. Fifth at Sandown two back in a good G3, he was thrown to the wolves in a G1 at Royal Ascot, not in the same zip code as A-team European runners So You Think and Carlton House. Not facing them, and coming to the US will be helpful. CRACKERJACK KING won an Italian graded stakes two back at today's ten furlong distance in a very sharp time and timeform figure. Last time at Sandown in the UK in a strong running of the Eclipse Stakes, he was far behind solid middle distance types like Nathaniel and Farhh. I'm not a fan of his two start, zero win record in G1s, and both times he needed a telescope to find the leaders. However, he is dropping in class from the Sandown G1 to today's Arlington G1.
#3 AFSARE (6/1)
#5 COLOMBIAN (8/1)
#9 CRACKERJACK KING (5-1)
Longshot: One for the home team. #7 WILLCOX INN (12/1) was the best sophomore on the grounds last year, and he was a bit ouchy when fourth in the Secretariat last year. He put together a nice record last year, and demonstrated that same closing kick when winning an upper crust allowance over this sod. He'll need the pace to be quick up front, but trainer Stidham is quietly having his usual 20% wins meet, his top call rider James Graham accepts the mount, and with the Americans being disregarded this year, I think his double digit odds will hold. In a race crying out for a longshot, why not this one?