The Arlington Classic has been run in some form since 1929, though it has only been run on grass since 1994, and at its current distance since 2002. It began at the American Classic distance - a mile and a quarter on the dirt -- but has been run at distances as short as a mile. It has been limited to three-year-olds through its entire history except for 1977, when it was run as the Arlington Classic Invitational Handicap, and was open to the handicap division. A pair of Triple Crown winners count the Arlington Classic among their victories -- Gallant Fox (1930), as well as his son Omaha (1935). Alydar (1978), second behind Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races, found the winners' circle here as well.
Nowadays, the $100,000 race is the first in Arlington's series of sophomore turf races. It serves as a local prep for the American Derby (G3) on Million Preview Day (Saturday, July 8), which in turn prepares runners for the Secretariat Stakes (G1) on Million Day (Saturday, August 12). In the Arlington Classic's turf era, Hawk Attack (1995) and Honor Glide (1997) went on to win the Secretariat later in the meet. Illinois-bred Giant Oak, a multiple Grade 1 winner on dirt, also won the Arlington Classic on grass in 2009.
Selections are made for turf only. Morning lines were not available at original publish time. Edited Saturday, May 27 to add morning lines and account for the scratches of PRIZE FIGHT, MAS MISCHIEF, RED CORVETTE, and DON'T SPLIT TENS.
Saturday, May 27: Arlington Park
Race 8: Arlington Classic (G3), three-year-olds, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 5:09pm CDT
It would be no surprise to see PARLOR go off a short price in this field of 10, but he stands out here. Toss the start over polytrack, and all the work he has done over grass looks strong for this group. Yes, he was a well-beaten fifth last out -- but that came in the American Turf (G2), the first really big three-year-old turf race of the year, and this is a significant class drop from the likes of Arklow and Good Samaritan. Furthermore, PARLOR was strangled back during the early stages of that race. The rider change back to Jesus Castanon is a positive; in their only start together over grass, they won an allowance at Tampa comfortably. If Castanon handles PARLOR like he did in that race, they should have far more late than PARLOR and Julien Leparoux had in the American Turf. The ground should also be no concern. With rain in the forecast this week in Chicago, there will likely be some cut in the ground; two of PARLOR's starts have come over ground rated good, and he has handled it well.
Trainer Mike Maker entered three here: GORGEOUS KITTEN, PRIZE FIGHT, and FAST AND ACCURATE. PRIZE FIGHT scratched, leaving two. GORGEOUS KITTEN fits on class, but a mile and a sixteenth is shorter than his best. However, FAST AND ACCURATE figures as a win candidate -- and, after scratches, this frontrunning grey figures even more strongly due to the scratches of both RED CORVETTE and MAS MISCHIEF, the other major pace factors. He may have been an also-ran (not to mention the butt of a few pre-race jokes) in the Kentucky Derby (G1) a few weeks ago, but here he returns to a more logical surface and level for him. Though his graded stakes win came on all-weather (no surprise, given how much Hansen babies love it), his one turf start was a wire-to-wire score against starter stakes company at Gulfstream. Channing Hill has no qualms about sending a speed horse to the lead, and with little left to contend against him, FAST AND ACCURATE might just walk the dog here.
GIANT PAYDAY steps back into stakes company after an allowance last out at Keeneland. There, he finished a length behind fellow Arlington Classic entrant GORGEOUS KITTEN, but has a good chance to turn the tables here. That race was a mile and an eighth. A mile and a sixteenth is on the short side for GORGEOUS KITTEN -- keep him in your pocket for underneath here, but on top, save him for longer races this summer. However, a mile and a sixteenth suits GIANT PAYDAY nicely, as he showed in his maiden win at Keeneland last fall. Even the time he finished fifth, in the mile and a sixteenth Palm Beach Stakes (G3)? That was a tougher Grade 3 than this one is, and he still finished beaten only three lengths for the whole thing. Finally, GIANT PAYDAY has done his best work with rider Chris Landeros aboard -- and Landeros comes down to Arlington to take the call. The scratches hurt, particularly with him going blinkers-off here, but GIANT PAYDAY has shown enough class and enough form closing into moderate paces that he makes sense for a slice underneath.
#7 PARLOR (7/2)
#6 FAST AND ACCURATE (9/2)
#9 GIANT PAYDAY (5/1)
Longshot: #4 SAKONNET (10/1) hasn't yet gotten a win picture, but should be competitive in the Arlington Classic regardless. He has hit the board in all three of his starts, all of which were at two turns on the turf. They came in maiden special weights on classy circuits, Tampa and Keeneland. On speeds, he fits right in with the field, and his late pace is consistently strong. SAKONNET also goes blinkers-on for the first time, a solid (and, from a bettor's perspective, profitable) move for trainer Anthony Granitz. He also lures rider Carlos Marquez to the irons -- Marquez rode last-out allowance-optional winner RED CORVETTE two weeks ago, yet turned up on SAKONNET here even before that one was scratched. Don't let the maiden label scare you -- SAKONNET fits here on all counts, and his price should be appealing.
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