2014 Beverly D. Stakes Preview

When people think of Arlington International, they think of its longtime owner, Richard L. Duchossois, known to many as “Mr. D” and subject of a recent BloodHorse longform piece. Even though his role has lessened in recent years, there are still reminders. On mornings before race days, a pre-race show is aired from Mr. D’s sports bar. It’s his declaration of “Quit? Hell no!” that is on the first floor, made days after fire engulfed Arlington Park before the ‘85 Million, a combination of tragedy and triumph that have enriched the Arlington International Festival of Racing (the full name of Arlington Million Day).

It may be (and perhaps always will be) Mr. D’s track, but it is his late wife, Beverly, that serves as this race’s namesake.

Mr. D won the race four years ago with Eclair de Lune, his mare present on a winners’ roll call that reads off with stars like Flawlessly (HOFer), Hatoof (who has a stakes on the Million Day undercard named for her), and Eclipse champions like Possibly Perfect, Stacelita and Dank, . Last year’s winner, Dank, earned a share of the track record too.

WGN-TV will air the race locally in the Chicago area, and www.wgntv.com will stream the program. The program is set to air from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, central time, and also includes live coverage of the G1 Arlington Million, one race later on the August 16 Festival program.

Arlington International -- Race 9 -- G1 Beverly D -- 1 3/16 miles on turf -- post time 4:54 pm CT

At publish time, the rail will be set to sixty-two feet (lane 5 position) from zero. Selections are "turf only."

An argument could be made that this year’s Beverly D could be as good if not better than the Million, based on the size of the field and its depth. But that’s mostly the case because the American female division is an affair where all the runners take turns, with trips and surfaces the key to decisions in a group where each runner is nearly on par with the other. Exhibit A is that it was only four lengths between the first through eighth finishers of the G1 Diana, where the 1-2 finishers (among others) throw down again.

Such a scenario seems ripe for a European shipper to come along and swoop up the Beverly D., a race that each of the past four years has been won by a European-based runner. The Euros are not favored this time around, however. That makes it all the better for JUST THE JUDGE, winner at three of the Group One Irish One Thousand Guineas and who has been chasing around the likes of fellow females Sky Lantern and Thistle Bird in Group One races across the pond. Neither of them are in this field, and JUST THE JUDGE also showed the closing kick that will help her in a field which will have a pace target in Illinois-bred LA TIA. Third last time out at ten furlongs in Ireland (behind Thistle Bird), she also did well with a “covered” trip two back, should all the pace providers (LA TIA, I’M ALREADY SEXY, SOMALI LEMONADE) flinch and restrain. Perhaps STEPHANIE’S KITTEN needed the first race of the year in the G1 Jenny Wiley, as she bounced back into better form after the Keeneland clunker with a fifth (beaten only 2 ¼ lengths) and a podium finish in the Diana. With a 50/50 chance of rain in the forecast, this runner gets upgraded should the course be less than firm, as she won twice last year on courses not rated firm and graduated from the maiden ranks back in the day at Arlington. Her Diana came on firm going - where she isn’t as good as when the ground has moisture - and with non firm ground likely she can be the American who finishes highest and “takes her turn” at the top. Be sure to upgrade her should the course take rain. Ever since blinkers went on SOMALI LEMONADE, she’s turned in five money finishes, three wins, and won the G1 Diana last time. Winner also of the G3 Gallorette on Preakness Day three back, she projects as speed from the outside post, and will likely be up with LA TIA on the early lead. However, as seen in the Diana, she doesn’t need the lead (like LA TIA) and that ability to make a trip from up close could be helpful.

Selections:

#1 JUST THE JUDGE (6/1)

#5 STEPHANIE’S KITTEN (7/2)

#11 SOMALI LEMONADE (6/1)

Longshot: #10 SPARKLING BEAM (20/1) rates as the “B” European, whereas JUST THE JUDGE is the “A” European. And a “B” European did just fine in this race two years ago in I’m A Dreamer. SPARKLING BEAM has three runner-up finishes in four tries at ten furlongs in France, and she’s a G3 winner in France, albeit age-restricted to sophomores. As a four-year-old, she won against elders second off the layoff in an allowance in France and was second last time in a minor stakes in France. SPARKLING BEAM, however, moves up should the ground go soft from summer rains and also should find Arlington’s course more friendly than other (read: tighter) American courses.

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