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2014 Arlington Million Preview

This piece is jointly submitted for Thorofan's Handicapper's Corner.

With the G2 Sky Classic at Woodbine and the next day’s G1 Sword Dancer, the pinnacle race of the Arlington International Racecourse meet, the Grade One Arlington Million has only a field of seven to see the starter.  Although it’s not a plentiful field for the Million, it is, like other Millions, a true blue Grade One.  It still holds the distinction as the first race ever to put seven figures in the purse in 1981.  It still for a week makes Chicago the center of the racing universe.  And the seven compose a field where, at first pass, there isn’t a stone-cold absolutely hopeless throwout.

It is, after all, the Arlington Million.  For three-and-up types on the grass going ten furlongs for a purse of a million.  And fans of large fields can’t poo-poo on that.

Adding a wrinkle to the festivities (#million32 on twitter) is a 50% chance of rain in the area, and a course that likely won’t be fully firm. Arlington’s course doesn’t dry out as quick as other courses, and it does not take a lot of rain to make the course lose its firmness.  The course was rated “yielding” for the Thursday card two days prior.   We’ll anticipate “good” ground at publish time, however selections below hold for all ranges of turf conditions.  They're voided if the race goes off the turf. At publish time the rail will be at sixty-two feet (lane five position) from zero.

Chicago-based TV station WGN-TV will air the Arlington Million live on Saturday August 16 from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm central, and www.wgntv.com will stream the Million.  The one-hour program also includes a live showing of the G1 Beverly D., one race prior.

Arlington International -- Race 10 -- G1 Arlington Million -- 1 ¼ miles on turf -- post time 5:36pm CT

Only one horse has ever won the Arlington Million twice, John Henry, and they bronzed him in a statue atop the Arlington paddock.  Maybe next they’ll plaster Ken Ramsey’s pictures all over the plant in the northwest suburbs or put REAL SOLUTION in bronze.  He won the race last year via the disqualification of The Apache, the latter who served into the former.  REAL SOLUTION stalked off a slow pace in the G1 Man O War two back when Imagining wired the field on a loose lead, and he showed he could be close to an average or slow pace, and handled ground with cut, as the ground was “good” at Belmont in the spring and such conditions are anticipated on the Arlington green.  When last seen he won the G1 Manhattan just a short while before the Triple Crown went unclaimed yet again, doing so at today’s ten furlong distance at Belmont.  He also beat Kaigun and Seek Again, and both of them were next out G2 winners.  Javier Castellano takes the mount for the Ramseys, who haven’t been as prolific as last year but still bring a loaded hand to Arlington for the International Festival.  The horse who might be the buzz horse of this year’s Million is UP WITH THE BIRDS, the incumbent Canadian Horse of the Year.  Winner of the G2 Nijinsky last out at nine panels, he’s won at nine and twelve panels over the Woodbine grass that often plays similarly to Arlington.  In fact, the last time Arlington had a seven horse field in 2007, a Canadian shipper named Jambalaya came down south and took the prize that afternoon.  But UP WITH THE BIRDS won drawing away last time out, but he did throw two duds, one in a Keeneland upper level allowance and another in the G2 Dixie.  He won the G1 Jamaica (now the Belmont Derby and moved to summer as of this year) last fall at today’s mile and a quarter distance.  SMOKING SUN has had the Million on his radar ever since a podium finish last out in the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup.  Ten furlongs is his ballgame, with two wins and four more times in the trifecta in eight outs.  Winner three back in France in a French G2, he fits in this Arlington Million for sure.  Worth noting he is one of the few Euros not to receive Lasix (per Pat Cummings/@dubairacenight) in the Million.

Selections:

#6 REAL SOLUTION (5/2)

#5 UP WITH THE BIRDS (6/1)

#2 SMOKING SUN (9/2)

Longshot: The local prep to the Arlington Million is the Grade Three Arlington Handicap, won that afternoon by #4 FINNEGANS WAKE (12/1). Fourth in this event last year while closing into a moderate pace and a winner last out, he also has a second on this course.  Although he’s a clunk type and he got a set up when the lone speed that day couldn’t sustain the lead for the entire ten furlongs of the local prep, he closed into a slow pace that afternoon (:52 first half), and in a field without a genuine front-runner, he could get the slow pace.  More importantly, his fourth place finish last year in a strong Million last year shows that in this Million he has a puncher’s chance.

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