This week’s coverage at Picks & Ponderings is a three-pronged attack covering both coasts of the States, their boutique summer meets, and a little something in between. On the East Coast is Saratoga, and coverage centers there with the G1 Alabama Stakes and the Troy Stakes on their undercard. On the West Coast is Del Mar, and Nicolle Neulist takes helm for your handicapping needs, covering Pacific Classic Day and their triplet of Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In events. Between them lies the home grounds of Arlington, with Paul Mazur providing a look at the G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity in this piece.
After being run together on the same card for a few years, the two-year-old races of Arlington’s late summer/early fall go back to being run on different weekends. First up is the G3 $100,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity. Merged with the Washington Park Futurity in the late 1950s, it pays respect to Washington Park. Washington Park was first a racing venue on the Chicago’s south side and later in south suburban Homewood. The first Washington Park hosted the first few runnings of the American Derby. The second one played host to the famed Swaps-Nashua match race. Washington Park was shutttered after in the late 1970s. The G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity keeps the link to the past while also – as a two-year-old race – looks to the future. Last year, this race was dialed back to seven furlongs after a number of years at a mile. However, in the 1970s and 1980s this frosh event was at seven furlongs. Among notable recent heroes of this race is Gilded Time (1992), who won this race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and was awarded champion two-year-old honors that season. Last year’s winner, Recount (2014), annexed the first stakes on the Arlington Milion card.
All races discussed in this piece are scheduled for Saturday August 22nd.
Arlington International — Race 7 — G3 Arlington-Washington Futurity — Seven Furlongs on Polytrack — post time 4:21 pm CT
Arlington’s morning line maker, Joe Kristufek, feels the public sees this as a two-horse affair between COCKED AND LOADED and SHOGOOD. Both are the only ones under 8/1, with eleven others at 8/1 or greater. The public may see it as a two-horse affair, but Picks & Ponderings feels neither of the morning line favorites is a strong win candidate. While COCKED AND LOADED annexed the Tremont back on Belmont eve, his G3 Sanford was dull as he ran evenly and was beaten soundly. This space thinks that as with other Rivellis – think DOM THE BOMB after the winter of his two-year-old campaign – that he’s already come to hand. SHOGOOD ran off the screen when going second time out. First time out he hooked The Zip Zip Man, a Stidham trainee that was taken out of town and tried in tougher company in Canada. While The Zip Zip Man didn’t disgrace himself and while SHOGOOD looked solid – he’s a more defensive use. We’ll get on the offensive with ASTROLOGIST in the Arlington-Washington Futurity. This space is fully aware ASTROLOGIST is a maiden. But he’s got a license to improve second time out – the same thing that SHOGOOD did. ASTROLOIGST’s trainer, Eoin Harty, is a 50/50 proposition to hit the board with second time starters. While he loses Mitchell Murill as his rider, the move to Edgar Perez is fine as they have two wins and another podium finish in the the four teams thay’ve united. Second to DISCREETNESS last time, the seven furlongs may suit this frosh son of Discreet Cat better than the five and a half he debuted in. Plus he showed the potential to have a rating gear. That’s big in these races where horses may not have learned that skill yet. Maiden graduate D. SHIFFLETT heads east for this event. A Michael Stidham trainee to be piloted by Mitchell Murill, D. SHIFFLETT had the advantageous poly in his favor last time where outside speed was best early in the meet. This space above felt SHOGOOD was a defensive use and the second slot is where he goes. At first asking he was in the same zip code as The Zip Zip Man – who was a podium finisher up north in a six-figure stakes. SHOGOOD was the speed last out, but whether he can carry it seven furlongs and without a free lunch (that is, a lead that will not be uncontested) is not a great question to ask on the favorite or second choice. The local trainer/owner team has cleaned up on the state-bred stakes circuit this year and they – Becker/Stiritz – employ their first call rider on this Illinois-bred. Morning scratches of pace player RICHIE THE BULL move him up as his forward placement will be a boon on the Arlington polytrack. It also moved up DISCREETNESS, who is out of the same Discreet Cat – Forestry sire line as ASTROLOGIST. E. T. Baird gets the return call for William “Jinks” Fires on this second time starter that won on debut going five and a half. Perhaps he goes to the lead (and scrambles the chances of SHOGOOD), but interesting E. T. Baird goes to this one rather than riding COCKED AND LOADED (or pre-scratch RICHIE THE BULL) for frequent partner Larry Rivelli.
#9 ASTROLOGIST (12/1)
#4 SHOGOOD (3/1)
#2 DISCREETNESS (10/1)
Longshot:#13 WILL MUNNINGS (15/1) may sound like a secret agent, but this runner from the thirteen post has quite a few positive factors that him make worth a look. On the paternal side of his pedigree is the Munnings-Speightstown line, with the sire who loved seven furlongs in his career and whose runners tend to came out strong. On the maternal side, he’s out of a Matty G mare. A Washington-based horse during his more active days, Matty G runners are actually well bred for the polytrack – these runners would pop up at prices back in the days when Del Mar had synthetic. Placing seven furlong breeding on top of polytrack breeding is a marvelous mix, and this William “Jinks” Fires trainee – the other and shorter priced being DISCREETNESS – also has a trump card: his son-in-law Jon Court takes off rides at Ellis and comes to town to ride WILL MUNNINGS. The horse with the name sounding like a secret agent could have his cover blown here.
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