2015 Arlington Million Day: Full Card Picks and Analysis

This is an edited version of a post originally available at Danonymous Racing.  This will be updated for scratches, should any occur.

Today is the flagship day of the Arlington summer meet: the Arlington International Festival of Racing.  Culminating in the Arlington Million, today’s card features six stakes races.  Four, all turf routes, are considered part of the Festival: the Arlington Million (GI), the Beverly D (GI), the Secretariat (GI), and the American St. Leger (GIII).  Two other races, both for three-year-olds, round out the stakes portion of the program: the Pucker Up Stakes (GIII) for three-year-old grass fillies, and the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes (née Straight Line) for three-year-olds at a one-turn mile over the polytrack.

The rest of the card features a more local set — though, lovers of maiden races will find it particularly intriguing, as three of the five non-stakes races on today’s eleven-race card are maiden races.

Picks and Ponderings also has full coverage of all six stakes, as well as Paul Mazur’s selections for all six stakes races.

Edited on August 15 to reflect scratches.

Race 1: $5,000 claiming, three-year-olds and up, non-winners since February 15 OR N4L, six furlongs on the polytrack, post time 12:30pm CDT

Selections:  Run Right At It (10), Proud Jackson (7), Betterbytheminute (8)

Run Right At It comes in third off the lay, and drops to the lowest class of his career.  All four of his wins have come over this six-furlong trip.  He also has very hot connections in trainer Louie Roussel and rider Jose Valdivia.  Proud Jackson comes in second off the claim for trainer Jere Smith, Jr.  Smith has been sharp with improving horses he claimed this meet.  Last time out he was beaten by a longshot stablemate who wired a short field; here, he should have more pace to attack.  With the scratch of Bank Account, Betterbytheminute stands a better chance to get the lead he likes.  With an 11-3-3-2 line over six furlongs as well as a win over the polytrack, he could lead them around.  Costly King is a stand-against here; the class drop off the re-claim, combined with the gap in works, screams Rivelli fire sale.

Race 2:  Maiden special weight ($21,600 purse), two-year-olds, about five furlongs on the turf, post time 1:01pm CDT

Selections:  Bootleggin (3), Three Golden Rules (2), Flying Around (4)

Bootleggin is a first-time starter for trainer Brian Williamson.  He is by Street Boss, who wins at 20% with first-time turfers.  He is half to Batten Down Belle, who won first-out at two.  The worktab is not super fast, but it is long, with four straight five-furlong drills leading into today.  Three Golden Rules gets a rider change to Rosemary Homeister, Jr., who has been riding lights-out for Manley.  This will be his first time on the grass, and he is out of a dam who has produced a turf winner.  Flying Around has corssed the wire first before, two starts back, but was disqualified for getting out.  He ran a solid second on turf last out, behind a visually impressive run from Cashel Rock.  He could be the speed of the speed, and he comes out for the always potent pair of Larry Rivelli and Jose Valdivia.
Race 3:  Allowance ($22,050 purse), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, non-winners of $9,800 once other than maiden, claiming, starter, or state-bred allowance OR N2L, about one mile on the turf, post time 1:32pm CDT

Selections:  Streamline (6), Depart Dover (1), Mission Storm (5)

Streamline is an improving sort.  She has only raced twice, but has won both times: once rallying from midpack, and once on the lead.  There is enough other speed in this field that the midpack rally should be the way to go.  Though she is three, she beat a decent $50,000 N2L field including older last out, and should be fast enough to contend against these.  Rail-drawn Depart Dover comes in third off the lay for trainer Scott Becker, who wins at 29% in that circumstance.  With the rain last night, her sharp run two starts back over yielding turf holds appeal.  She should be stalking, one of the first to get a run on the speeds.  Mission Storm has also shown strong form over wetter turf, winning that race two back in which Depart Dover was second.  She tried tougher company last out, and though she was fifth, she was beaten by just a length.  Whether she gets there or not is the question, but Mission Storm is a closer who reliably fires.
Race 4:  Bruce D. Memorial Stakes, three-year-olds, one mile on the polytrack, post time 2:03pm CDT
Selections:  Recount (8), Shrewd Move (1) Private Prospect (4)
Recount is squarely the one to beat in this race, and with the loss of Chip Leader, he looks difficult to oppose here.  He beat older Illinois-breds last out after the state-bred stakes races for three-year-olds did not fill, and he is a perfect three-for-three over the Arlington polytrack.  He can sit off a speed — and though the pace should be less hot with the scratch of Singingintheheat, Shrewd Move and Ratnik could make some pace.  The scratch of Singingintheheat does help Shrewd Move considerably.  Ratnik is the only other who looks like he may send, and Shrewd Move is a faster horse.  Though the speed bias at Arlington is not what it was ealrier this meet, the front is still a good place to be.  He will have to run his best by far to beat Recount, but looks to have the best shot.  Private Prospect stalled through the winter and spring, but his last two starts suggest a bit more life.  He ran a career top last out when finishing third in the Iowa Derby, and cuts back to one turn here.  The last time he ran one turn, he finished a tight second behind Recount in the Arlington-Washington Futurity.  He did well enough at one turn at two that this could help him put it back together.  Pacewise, he should be able to stalk a length or two off the speedy types, and get an early run.  The rider change to Florent Geroux, 22% on the meet, should not hurt either.

Race 5:  Maiden special weight ($21,600 purse), two-year-old fillies, five and a half furlongs on the polytrack, post time 2:35pm CDT

Selections: Peppermint Ice (5), Recognition (8), Impeccable Lady (1)

Peppermint Ice is a first-time starter for trainer Ingrid Mason, who wins at 19% with first-timers, and 20% with debuters in maiden special weights.  The worktab is long enough to suggest fitness, and her last four workouts have been five furlongs, almost as long as the race.  Her third dam, Shocker T, won first time out.  Recognition debuts for the Jim DiVito barn.  Though DiVito has not had his breakout first-timer yet this year, he has long been sharp with debut runners, particularly juveniles.  One of this filly’s half-siblings did win first out at two, and all nine runners from his dam have won.  The biggest worry here is the short worktab.  Impeccable Lady drew the rail, always a bit worrisome for a two-year-old debuter, but there is enough to suggest she has a shot regardless.  She gets rider Mitchell Murrill, who is 3-11 with a +$6.00 ROI over the last two months with trainer David Hinsley.  This filly is by Exchange Rate, whose babies won 15% first time out and tend to do well at two.  The worktab stretches back all the way to May, with plenty of four- and five-furlong works, and she should be fit.

Race 6:  Pucker Up Stakes (GIII), three-year-old fillies, about one and one eighth miles on the turf, post time 3:07pm CDT

Selections:  Miss Chatelaine  (10), America Mon Amie (6), Walking the Kitten (11)

There seems very little speed in this race: Mizz Money, basically, since Counterfactual scratched.  Miss Chatelaine is the class of this field, should be stalking quite close to this pace, and should be primed to get first run and kick away.  Christophe Clement hardly ships to Arlington — and he still shipped Miss Chatelaine here, despite the fact that he has no horses in any of the marquee races.  This suggests she is live.  She is also dialing down in distance and class from the 1 1/4 mile Belmont Oaks (GI) last out.  She should right the ship here.  Illinois-bred America Mon Amie should also be stalking relatively close to the pace.  She was third last out in a stakes over poly at Woodbine, but returns to grass here.  She has fired on all cylinders on grass this year, between an impressive maiden win over the Arlington grass and then a score in the Northbound Pride Oaks at Canterbury.  Walking the Kitten has struggled this year, but there is enough to think he could wake up here at a price.  His works leading into this race are significantly snappier than they have been in the past.  Trainer Mike Maker fires at 24% with shippers, and calls in strong rider Irad Ortiz.  If he can get her in a stalking place, and she finds her best, she will threaten at a price.

Race 7:  American St. Leger Stakes (GIII), three-year-olds and up, one and eleven sixteenths miles on the turf, post time 3:42pm CDT

Selections:  Hyper (7), Lucky Speed (3), Panama Hat (1)

With the scratch of Calvados, Hyper is hard to look past here.  With Roman Approval, Az Ridge, and even Xtra Luck there to ensure some pace, Hyper should have a sharp pace to rally into.  He has done his best work going long, and even has a win at 1 5/8 miles — just a sixteenth of a mile short of the American St. Leger distance.  His form this year suggests he came back the same horse off of a year and a half lay, and anything near his best may just be too fast for these types.  Lucky Speed comes in second off the ship from Germany.  He has a pair of wins at the German Classic distance of a mile and a half, including in the German Derby (GI – GER) at age three.  Though his four-year-old season disappointed a bit, he kept world-calibre company: Ivanhowe, Sea the Moon, Protectionist.  He finished fourth in the Nijinsky (GII – CAN) last out, and stayed in North America.  That race was likely a prep — it was a mile and an eighth, shorter than his best trip, and he should be fitter to face this better distance.  Rail-drawn Panama Hat has not been the most consistent horse through his career, but when he is good, he is good.  He rattled off five straight wins in handicap company last year — easier horses than this, to be sure, but showing he can go on a streak and string together good efforts.  He broke through in stakes company last out at Roscommon, going a mile and a half.  Even more interesting was his start three back going 1 3/4 miles at Leopardstown.  He finished second beaten half a length by Kingfisher.  Kingfisher finished second next out in the Gold Cup (GI – ENG) at Royal Ascot, one of the world’s premier races for stayers.

Race 8: Secretariat Stakes (GI), three-year-olds, one and one fourth miles on the turf, post time 4:17pm CDT

Selections:  War Dispatch (7), Highland Reel (6), Force the Pass (2)

War Dispatch was beaten by Highland Reel two back in the Prix du Jockey Club (GI – FR), in which he finished third and Highland Reel second.  However, he showed tenacity in his next start when he took the lead, was headed, fought back, and was only just nailed late by Dariyan.  That came at 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as he covers today.  With little else in the way of possible early speed (Granny’s Kitten is the only other likely speed), he should be forward early, and primed to fight to stay there.  The connections also know how to win at Arlington: trainer Jean-Claude Rouget won the 1995 American Derby, and rider Ioritz Mendizabal won the 2008 Arlington Million.  Highland Reel is another Coolmore production, like last year’s winner Adelaide.  Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won three Secretariats already, and Highland Reel should be a strong condender here.  He cuts back from a win at a mile and a half at Goodwood last out; this distance should suit him a bit better.  Pacewise, he should be in a stalking to mid-pack position.  He would benefit if the speed gets a little hot, but may be able to get up on class.  Force the Pass has been flying high in the American turf division; he won the Belmont Derby (GI) last out.  That race covers the same distance as the Secretariat.  He gets rider Joel Rosario back from his last three starts.  Like Highland Reel, he is another who will benefit with a bit of pace in front of him, though he showed in the Belmont Derby that he did not have to be well off early to run his best.

Race 9: Beverly D. Stakes (GI), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one and three sixteenths miles on the turf, post time 5:05pm CDT

Selections:  Secret Gesture (10), Euro Charline (8), Wedding Vow (9)

Secret Gesture was fifth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf last year, which should help her fly under the radar here.  Still, that was only a two-length defeat, and it was her first race since August.  She should be fresher here, having just raced on June 28.  That was in the Pretty Polly (GI – IRE), against far tougher company that was franked when Legatissimo won the Nassau (GI – ENG) next out.  Two back, Secret Gesture scored a sharp frontrunning victory in the Middleton Stakes (GII – ENG).  Though that was strong, she has some back races she won from off the pace; she is no one-way speed.  She has shown enough this year against classy company to suggest she could be a good price play against the defending champion Euro Charline.  Euro Charline is the one to beat, and for good reason.  She won the Beverly D last year, and though she has only raced twice since, both have been against harder.  Off a lengthy lay and some physical issues, she shipped to Dubai, and finished a solid fourth in the Dubai Turf behind one of the best turf horses in the world, Solow.  Last out, she was second behind Amazing Maria in the Falmouth (GI – ENG).  Visually it was everything you would want to see from a prep race for the Beverly D — and Amazing Maria franked the form by returning to win the Prix Rothschild (GI – FR) next out.  Between her class and her known affinity for the Arlington grass, she does loom large.  Wedding Vow also stands a strong chance.  It took her six tries to break her maiden, but she graduated earlier this year in an English Group II.  She returned next out in the Nassau, finishing a late-running second behind stablemate Legatissimo.  She will benefit if one of the classier horses like Carla Bianca or even Secret Gesture gets locked in with speeds like Lots o’ Lex and Maid on a Mission early, since she does do her best rallying from the back of the pack.  However, the class is there, the speed is there, and trainer Aidan O’Brien always ships live horses on Million Day.

Race 10: Arlington Million (GI), three-year-olds and up, one and one fourth miles on the turf, post time 5:48pm CDT

Selections:  Wake Forest (5), The Pizza Man (7), Legendary (6)

Big Blue Kitten and Slumber will likely be the chalks, but taking a short price on those seems folly in such a contentious field as this.  With both Shining Copper and Maverick Wave likely to be pace influences, it should set up nicely for Wake Forest to rally off the pace.  He has racked up wins at this distance in Germany and France, with a 6-4-0-1 line at the distance, and can run well over firmer or softer going (helpful with Friday night’s rain).  He goes first-time Lasix here for trainer Andreas Wohler, who came out to Arlington in 2001 and won the Million with Silvano.  The Pizza Man is the ultimate Arlington horse for the course, having racked up at 12-9-1-1 line over it.  He is in the form of his life this year, and has won both of his starts at six.  His last win was in the 1 1/2 mile Stars and Stripes Stakes, and he cuts back from that to the 1 1/4 miles of the Million.  He can run speeds that are competitive with this set, and gets back sharp local (and regular rider) Florent Geroux.  His pace versatility will help immensely here: he has won from the front end, a closing rally, and everywhere in between.  Last out he closed into a dawdling pace, and he should get a bit more of that here.  Legendary is another with some versatility.  Last out he was right near the pace in the Manhattan, and stayed on well for third behind Big Blue Kitten and Slumber.  He gets Sheldon Russell back aboard — Russell also rode regularly and successfully at Arlington last year, and got Legendary home twice in stakes company last year with some strong runs from off the pace.  He has shown some late pace numbers to suggest he can kick home with the best of them here.  Legendary would have to run his best race to win here, but his performance last out suggests that he is rounding back into that best form.  He will be overlaid.

Race 11: $25,000-$20,000 maiden claiming, three-year-olds and up, about one mile on the turf, post time 6:25pm CDT

Selections:  Run Fort Run (3), Joe Mambo (6), Thisbabysaruler (5)

Run Fort Run was second at this level last out.  The form of that race was franked on Friday when Boom Box scored a strong victory against winners.  He gets a rider change to Florent Geroux, and stretches back out to a mile.  Being by Fort Prado out of a Royal Academy mare, this trip should suit him better than the sprints he has been doing all year this year.  He looks to be a better horse at four than he was at three, and this will be his first route try at four.  Joe Mambo drops back down into maiden claiming company after a try against special weight types last out.  He keeps rider Mitchell Murrill aboard, who has been firing at 26% over the last two months with trainer Michael Stidham.  This will be his first time trying the turf; being by Unbridled’s Song out of a Kingmambo mare, two turns on the grass should suit him well.  Thisbabysaruler will be a long shot, but there are a few things to suggest he could wake up.  He drops back from maiden special weight to maiden claiming.  He tries both a route and the grass for the first time.  Trainer Steve Manley also switches the rider to Rosemary Homeister, Jr.  In their last eleven starts together, nine have hit the board.  These are gossamer threads, but at 30/1, the changes and the humans are worth a shot.


You can take “Picks & Ponderings” with you anytime, anywhere. You can get Twitter updates @picksponderings for on-scene reports from Arlington International Racecourse. And you can get “Picks and Ponderings” in your e-mail by typing your email address in the box and clicking “Create Subscription.” It’s a FREE service, and you’ll never get any unwanted spam.

Leave a comment