With overnight stakes restored to the stakes calendar this year, an already star-studded Arlington Million Day has even more chances to deliver some stakes excitement. This post doesn't look at the major races--the American St. Leger, Secretaraiat, Beverly D., and Arlington Million--they each have their own separate posts. This post focuses on the three listed overnight stakes, all for three-year-olds with a purse of $65,000.
The first one pays homage to Straight Line. A double G3 winner at Churchill (Iroquois S., Ack Ack S.), he zigzagged through the Midwest tracks, based locally out of the Brian Williamson barn. He earned nearly a half million dollars in twenty-six starts, winning ten times. He was also named Illinois Champion First Crop Sire in 2011, so look for more future progeny of his filtering into the state-bred ranks.
Straight Line during his racing career. Photo courtesy ITBOF.
The second one was oversubscribed and split into two. It honors Hatoof, who won the 1994 Beverly D. and was second in that year's Breeders Cup Turf against males. The Hatoof, at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, serves as the local prep (or in this year's case, preps) to the G3 Pucker Up in September.
Arlington Park -- Race 1 -- Straight Line Stakes -- One mile (one turn) on polytrack -- post time 12:15 CT
Million Day has a special early post of 12:15 PM CT, and be aware that the first race of the day is a stakes. SWEET LUCA last visited the winners' circle last fall at Hawthorne in the Sun Power S. for Illinois-breds, but he's been in the money in every start on dirt or polytrack. He's cashed checks in the Land of Lincoln, Springfield, and Coach Jimi Lee this year. With enough pace to his outside, this Block/Perez winner has a solid chance to get the picture taken. HAMMER'S TERROR is logical, having won two listed stakes with similar purses. His work has been on the turf and poly, having won a stakes in Minnesota last time. Does get the jockey upgrade to Dominguez. However, he won't get a free lunch on the front end as he did last time. AFFORD goes first time polytrack in this listed stakes. Goes two turns to one turns as well for trainer Geier, who is 17% winners with imports. He wasn't that far behind Belmont third-place finisher Atigun two back, and was second to a next out winner last time. With Street Cry and Street Sense in the sire line, polytrack shouldn't be an issue.
#2 SWEET LUCA (6/1)
#8 HAMMER'S TERROR (9/5)
#7 AFFORD (5/1)
Longshot: #3 FASTESTWHOGETSPAID (20/1) goes turf to synthetic, an 18% situation for trainer Brian Williamson, who conditioned this race's namesake. He closed for a win three back going two turns on Arlington turf and won a listed stakes on Oaklawn dirt. Last time is a toss-out, as he dumped the rider in a $100,000 claiming race. His two poly starts featured a third and a bad break that compromised his chances. When he won at Arlington, that was stretching out in distance from a sprint, which happens again today.
Arlington Park -- Race 5 -- Hatoof Stakes (1st division) -- About 1 1/16 miles on turf -- post time 2:15 CT
Three turf starts and three checks can be found in the career form of BANDED, who last appeared in a $75K stakes at Canterbury. Flattened out last time chasing a moderate pace, and there should be enough upfront gas to light her closing fire. Like the workout pattern of a good work preceded by a bullet work. Like also the trainer's mini hot streak: the last five starts have two wins and a second, also a 50% in the money proposition. NAYARRA plummets in class off her last start, where she set a slow pace in the G1 American Oaks. There are no Lady of Shamrocks in the gate for this stakes, but she got to control all the terms that day. That's not going to happen. Yet, trainer Graham Motion likely isn't here for the Air and Water Show, and she's not in a G1, and is cutting back in distance. LA TIA went all the way on the front end in her last two starts, winning the Purple Violet for Illinois-breds and the G3 Arlington Oaks. Both of those races came on the polytrack, however. And if NAYARRA goes to the front too, she won't get the free lunch. Still, the maternal side of the pedigree (La Adelita, Sky Classic) shows that turfing isn't a stretch and her local Oaks win firmly answers the distance question.
#10 BANDED (6/1)
#9 NAYARRA (9/5)
#5 LA TIA (9/2)
Longshot: Not often we use a horse trained by Wayne Catalano in these spots. #6 AWESOME GISEL (6/1) is trained by Catalano, and gets S. Martinez to ride. Why the long price? Well, she's raced twice going five furlongs and six furlongs, so she's stretching out and today's the first time she's around two turns. The team is two of three together with a sharp $4.93 ROI, and the always potent Catalano just happens to be winning at 26% on those going long the first time. Think the presence of the class-plummeting Euro and LA TIA keep this one's price honest.
Arlington Park -- Race 9 -- Hatoof Stakes (2nd division) -- About 1 1/16 miles on turf -- post time 4:23 CT
Let's take a horse for the course. FREEDOM REIGNS has three career wins, and all have been over the Arlington grass course. Last time out she won easily in a first-level allowance race at today's 1 1/16 mile distance. All of her wins have against older foes, today's the first time at Arlington she faces her own age group. Top two rider Graham in the irons. LEADING ASTRAY steps up from Illinois-bred allowances to today's open stakes, but won't be tackling elders. Three wins and a head loss in four career turf starts, and do note that she graduated on a course with give at first asking in the final days of the Hawthorne Spring meet .STARSHIP DUCHESS was third last time at 9-10 odds in a $75K stakes at Canterbury. Two back, she won a starter allowance over the same weeds as today's Hatoof. Respectable training stats all around.
#8 FREEDOM REIGNS (9/2)
#2 LEADING ASTRAY (4/1)
#5 STARSHIP DUCHESS (8/1)
Longshot: As we did in the first division of the Pucker Up, let's use a Catalano-trained horse. This time we have two to choose from, we'll use #6 LADY MICAELEA (12/1). Same Martinez/Catalano team from the first division, and was able to demonstrate a hint of a passing gear when graduating at 17-10 odds at first asking. Moves to grass, but the pedigree says that's no deal.
Good luck on Arlington Million Day!