The Arlington Million is drawing near, with full fields and post positions to be announced tomorrow. Until then, let's take a look back at a few standout performances last week at Arlington!
Last year, Devileye (Indygo Shiner - Deville, by Petionville) asserted himself clearly best among Illinois-bred juvenile males. He rallied up the rail to win his debut, maturely handled traffic trouble to win a first-level Illinois-bred allowance, and caught a runaway leader to win the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity. In Saturday's fourth race, Devileye made his three-year-old debut. The race was a conditioned six and a half furlong polytrack allowance: not only the S. D. Brilie Limited Partnership homebred's first start of the year but his first try against older horses. The Michele Boyce trainee, with regular rider Santo Sanjur back in the irons, got sharp early fractions to chase with both Caitlins Road and Unscathed lighting up the front end. His late kick got him home in time over Caitlins Road, extending his career record to four-for-four. It was a strong first step toward Devileye reasserting his position at the top of his age class -- a place which, for so much of the year, has been held by 2017 Springfield Stakes winner Smoke 'n' Gloat. Devileye and Smoke 'n' Gloat have faced off once -- when Devileye broke his maiden, Smoke 'n' Gloat finished second as the 6/5 chalk.
In Thursday's fourth race, trainer Scott Becker and owner William Stiritz took a risk: despite still being in good form this year, they dropped Shogood (Nobiz Like Shobiz - Good and Rough, by Good and Tough) in for a $50,000 claiming tag to face a tough allowance-optional turf dash field. It was a calculated risk, of course: rarely does anyone in Chicago drop a $50,000 claim, and the fact that Shogood is a gelded male means he would not have the residual breeding value of, say, a filly of his age and racing calibre. The race went as well as it could have for the 2015 Arlington-Washington Futurity winner and his connections. With Chris Emigh in the irons Shogood tracked the pace, wore down uncontested leader Singingintheheat in the closing strides of the five-furlong race, and found no claiming tag hanging from his bridle as he left the winners' circle.
Thursday's seventh race, a conditioned $10,000 claimer at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass, featured a strong effort from an unlikely horse. Candy Carlos (Candy Ride - Gold Indy, by A. P. Indy) came in second off the claim by trainer Judd Becker and owner Terrence J. McMahon. Candy Carlos had been sixth at that conditioned $10,000 level in his first start for those connections on June 24, but finished only three and a quarter lengths behind wire-to-wire winner Dark Humorista that day. The beginning of Thursday's race suggested that things might be about to go even worse, as he tossed his head at the break and hit the gate. Even so, he was able to settle closer to the pace than he had in his last outing, and he got a more contested setup in front of him. Even so, he advanced and got an inside spot in third position by the time the field hit the clubhouse turn. Rider Olaf Hernandez saved ground through both the turns, and was rewarded with a hole along the rail as the field entered the homestretch. Candy Carlos slipped through -- and though pace-battling favourite Husky Clipper found some more in the tank, he didn't find quite enough to outfinish Candy Carlos.
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