Stars & Stripes Stakes Preview

A turf fixture since the fifties, the $150,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes has been a turf marathon since 1996. In its past life, it boasted Hall of Fame winners like Round Table and Fort Marcy. After being revamped into a 1 1/2 mile marathon, its winners include double victors Ballingarry and FREE FIGHTER. This year, the Stars and Stripes (which has been all over the calendar) serves as a prep race to the Arlington St. Leger, a 1 11/16 mile turf race that will be run for the first time this year on Arlington Million Day. Runners here could stretch out in the St. Leger, or perhaps, cut back to the mile and a quarter Arlington Million.

Arlington Park — Race 10 — Grade 3 Stars & Stripes S. — 1 1/2 miles on turf — post time 5:44 CT

Do note that JOINEM and VERTIFORMER are cross entered to the Arlington Handicap one race prior. At publish time, the rail will be set in Lane 5, 62 feet from the zero setting. MUSKETIER continues to chug along at the advanced age of ten and last time won a G3 at today’s distance at Woodbine in Canada on Queens’ Plate Day. Woodbine form often holds well at Arlington, and he had a good winter campaign annexing the G2 McKnight and being third in the G2 Mac Diarmida. Nine of fourteen in the money at today’s distance makes him certainly logical. The move to Rosario doesn’t concern me, though. The presence of 2010 American Derby winner WORKIN FOR HOPS (who should go in the race prior, in the Author’s opinion) ensures at least an honest pace until they come in to the stretch for the second time. The rider switch to Leparoux means HARRODS CREEK will get taken back. Let’s hope he puts him in the first flight and pounces when WORKIN FOR HOPS quits at the top of the second stretch run. He swung three wide last time out in the Louisville at today’s twelve furlong distance and that may have been his undoing. The rider switch is an upgrade, and he could be left alone on the lead. Aside from the undulating twelve furlongs at Kentucky Downs, he hasn’t been out of the superfecta since fall 2010.  However, he’s one for five at today’s distance; hence why we’ll side with the Canadian invader. EAGLE POISE just missed by a nose last time out in the 1 3/4 mile G2 San Juan Capistrano to the West Coast’s best turf marathoner, Bourbon Bay.  He’s won at beyond a mile and a half before on polytrack. Alex Solis retains the call for trainer Graham Motion, and the rarity of Motion shipping makes him worth a hard look.

#10 MUSKETIER (3/1)

#2 HARRODS CREEK (8/1)

#3 EAGLE POISE (5/1)

Longshot: #8 JOINEM (4/1) was in the same zip code as some solid turf stars in the Muniz in New Orleans.  Last time, he got a questionable ride in the G3 Louisville Handicap, yet still finished second to Simmard (who goes in a G1 on the East Coast) and his breeding is solid for a mile and a half. Makes you wonder why this is only the second time he’s tried it, the first being in the G3 Louisville.  (And should JOINEM defect to the Arlington Handicap, we’ve got a back-up plan. #6 SUNTRACER (12/1) nearly ran down a loose-on-the-lead Mr. Mischief in an Illinois-bred stakes. He makes the second start off the shelf after a rough winter in the south. While he’s zero-for-six on the local sod, he has three seconds and spent most of last summer chasing around better. If the pace gets quick on the front end, he can get a piece.

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