A full version of this portion of the piece is available at Thorofan's "Handicapper's Corner".
The centerpiece of the Arlington International Festival of Racing is the Arlington Million, to be run for the thirty-first time on August 17th. It has a pot of a million dollars, Grade One status, and is for three-year-olds and older. They’ll travel a mile and a quarter on the grass. The Arlington Millon will be televised locally on WGN and nationally on WGN America, from 5:00 pm CT to 6:00 pm CT.
Advance weather conditions are for fair skies and seasonable temperatures around 80 degrees. A good-to-firm (or even firm) course is anticipated. The rail is to slated for Lane 5 at publish time.
Arlington International - - Race 10 - - Grade 1 Arlington Million - - 1 ¼ miles on turf -- post time 5:44 pm CT
Christophe Soumillion rides and Michael de Kock trains THE APACHE. Campaigned in 2012 from South Africa, he was beaten two lengths among a blanket finish in a G1 at ten panels there to close out his 2012. Proving his Southern Hemisphere form was not suspect, he shipped to the Dubai Carnival. There, he was third in a G2, second twice to Sajjhaa in the Dubai Duty Free prep and the Dubai Duty Free, and was fourth last time out in the G2 York behind GRANDEUR, Wigmore Hall (who goes in the American Saint Leger a few races prior) in a race won by Mukhadram, a quality Euro miler/middle distance type. Trainer de Kock has shipped in the past to Arlington, most recently with River Jetez (who hit the board in the 2011 Beverly D). He also has a solid record: nineteen starts, seven wins, twelve top three finishes. His pressing/mid pack style should fit well at Arlington, the Dubai form is solid, and the humans are solid. Tough call, but he’s our choice.
INDY POINT became the steam horse, the hype horse, the talking point horse of the Arlington Million with a sharp workout at Del Mar (1 mile, 1:39) before making the trip from SoCal to NW Burbs. Gary Stevens is in the saddle for trainer Richard Mandella. He won the Wickerr Stakes last time at Del Mar in a quality time for a mile. He campaigned in 2012 in South America, climbing the ranks and winning two G1s and finishing second in two more, one of them the richest race in Argentina. Four back he won an Argentine G1 at today’s distance on the lawn, two back was second at a mile and a half. Distance won’t be an issue (winner at a mile and a mile and a half). Trainer won this race in 2006 with The Tin Man, another plus. He’s live, but I would demand a square price before plunking down cash because of all the talk on him. But excluding him from a P4 ticket would be dangerous.
The jockey/trainer team of William Buick and Jeremy Noseda are responsible for GRANDEUR. Second in the G2 York in the UK last time, he started his 2013 with a fourth in a G2 at Newmarket. American fans will remember him from his three American starts in Southern California: a win in the G2 Twilight (nee Oak Tree) Derby, a second in the G1 Hollywood Derby, and lastly a second in the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup. He comes in off the twelve furlong race, and the York was at 1 5/16 miles, proving further that the distance is in his scope. Also in his corner is that he has six top three finishes from seven starts at the Million’s ten furlongs. If the pace is slow, he can go to the front, but he ran with no issue if there was pace, and that happens with ‘NATE and ‘MIKE. He’s your morning line favorite, and he’s usable, though he’s not my win pick as a couple others exist with higher odds and equal abilities. However, Pick 4 tickets will certainly include him.
#10 THE APACHE (6/1)
#7 INDY POINT (9/2)
#13 GRANDEUR (7/2)
Longshot: Ah, the “B team” European. The horse that has sneaky good form and wins the Million races at high odds. Spirit One and Debussy in the Million; I’m A Dreamer in the Beverly D., and so on. The “A team” Europeans are GRANDEUR and the APACHE. Makes sense to use the B team #6 SIDE GLANCE (12/1) as the longshot to watch. Chased around the who’s who of Euro turfers last year: Frankel, Excelebration, and Afsare. And again this year: Mukhadram (won G2 York), Sajjhaa (won G1 Dubai Duty Free). He’s done okay at Woodbine, a course that plays similar to Arlington that Euros like him adore.