Situated in mid-July, four weeks away from the Arlington Million and run at the same 1 1/4 mile turf distance, the $200,000 Arlington Handicap is the Million’s local prep race. A Grade 1 race in the 1980s, it’s fallen to the Grade 3 level. Past winners feature the likes of Round Table (Hall of Famer), Sky Classic (who set the stakes record and won the Older Turf Male Eclipse in 1992). Recent winners like Just As Well and RAHYSTRADA have turned victories here into solid minor awards in the Arlington Million.
Runners here can move on to the Million, or perhaps stretch out to the new Arlington St. Leger at 1 11/16 miles on grass the same afternoon.
Arlington Park — Race 9 — Grade 3 Arlington Handicap — 1 1/4 miles on turf — post time 5:14 CT
Please note that JOINEM and VERTIFORMER are cross-entered to the race immediately following this one, the G3 Stars & Stripes. At publish time, the rail will be in lane five, 62 feet from zero. Not a very clever pick here, as BOISTEROUS was third in the G1 Manhattan at today’s mile and a quarter distance, has won twice at it before, and goes for the Garcia/McGaughey team that show a positive ROI. His only bad start of the year was a fourth at Gulfstream in his first 2012 start of the year, losing to Turbo Compressor (won G1 United Nations) and Guys Reward (won G2 Firecracker). RAHYSTRADA won this race in 2010 then parlayed that win into a small award in the Arlington Million. Take away the two Arlington Millions (and this ain’t the Million), and he’s two-for-two over the Arlington course. Third beaten two lengths last time in a quasi-G2 at Colonial, losing to Turbo Compressor, who next out lulled the field to sleep in win a G1 New Jersey. He’s run best on firm ground, as well, and the drought conditions should help him. MISTER MARDI GRAS is a dependable Grade 3 horse who can run well on dirt (see: 2011 G3 Ack Ack win), polytrack (see: G3 Washington Park win) and turf (see: 2011 G3 Arlington Handicap runner-up). This year’s Arlington Handicap is tougher than last year’s, but Chris Block does know quite a bit about training turf runners (Never Retreat, Vacare), and he won’t be tangling with the likes of Nate’s Mineshaft and Caixa Electronica, solid G2 and above horses. He’s run well off freshenings, as seen when he won last year’s Washington Park over the local polytrack.
#9 BOISTEROUS (5/2)
#8 RAHYSTRADA (5/1)
#4 MISTER MARDI GRAS (8/1)
Longshot: Cross-entered #11 VERTIFORMER (8/1) goes third start off the layoff for the Quincy Hamilton/Wayne Catalano jockey team that has three wins in nine starts the past two weeks. A winner at 9.5 furlongs and at 10 furlongs in France, he goes second off the layoff in this G3 event, and defeated some solid runners (G1 winner Stately Victor, G3/listed stakes level PROCEED BEE) in a slow paced N3X/$80K AOC. That race came at 1 1/16 miles, and the short stretch of that distance’s configuration can compromise closers. He closed to win. With Churchill Downs over, Catalano (usually a 20-25% trainer) can consolidate his split stable at Arlington and get on a roll. The roll starts here. (Should VERTIFORMER defect, use #7 CHEROKEE LORD (15/1), who exited an AOC two back worse for wear but rebounded somewhat over at Indiana, and will be controlling the pace up front. The question will be how long he lasts on the front; he can do damage if left alone and the field shrinks down enough.)