2018 Bruce D. Memorial Stakes Preview

The Bruce D. Memorial Stakes is the only one of Saturday’s five stakes carded for the polytrack, and the only ungraded stakes of the group.  Originally run as the Straight Line Stakes between 2012 and 2014, it was renamed in 2015 to honour R. Bruce Duchossois (1950-2014), son of Arlington Park chairman Richard Duchossois.  Bruce Duchossois was involved in horse sports as well — though he made his name in the eventing world, not the racing world.  He rode Kim’s Song to the American Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year title in 1973, and served as vice president of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation.

Though the race is an open stakes, locals have done extremely well over its history.  Local trainers Greg Geier, Tom Swearingen, Jim DiVito, and Chris Block have all had winners of the race: Fordubai, I Got It All, Recount, and Yo Carm, respectively.  And, even though its first winner was in the Eddie Kenneally barn (typically based in New York) that inaugural winner spent most of his career on the Chicago circuit, becoming one of its most seasoned war horses: Francois.

This is just one of five stakes races on Arlington Million Day; once all stakes previews are posted, we will have a separate page with links to all of our previews and analysis for Saturday at Arlington.

Saturday, August 11 – Arlington Park

Race 8: Bruce D. Memorial Stakes, three-year-olds, one mile on the polytrack, post time 4:08pm CST

This race drew nine sophomores to go a mile on the polytrack, and the $100,000 question is whether P R RADIO STAR will go with THE TABULATOR or not.  P R RADIO STAR seems to do his best on the front end — though, also on dirt and not polytrack.  But, at his sharpest, he can get rolling fast enough to keep THE TABULATOR honest.  NOTTOWAY also has sprint speed, but he rated under the hands of rider Sophie Doyle last-up, and gets Doyle in the irons again.  Expect NOTTOWAY to stalk.  SIR ANTHONY and WILE E PEYOTE have also shown early speed, but they’d have to sharpen considerably to keep THE TABULATOR honest; between the two, expect WILE E PEYOTE to be a bit closer, as he does add blinkers for this.

Either way, THE TABULATOR may prove hard to beat.  He can lead, but he doesn’t have to, and he has rated off a quick runaway leader going both one turn and two.  Though he has faltered in his last two starts came against significantly tougher foes than he faces here.  He has a win over the polytrack at Arlington last year, suggesting he can handle it.  The biggest question about THE TABULATOR is the extended one-turn distance; he has wins at more traditional sprints and at a two-turn trip.  Still, THE TABULATOR’s only try at an extended one-turn came in the Woody Stephens (G2): a race far tougher than this, and a race in which he spent the early stages close to a torrid pace.

NOTTOWAY won last out at Arlington, and stretches out for this.  A speed horse earlier in the spring, he showed last time out that he could rate and rally, winning a six-furlong allowance-optional on June 12.  That came at Arlington, showing he could handle the polytrack.  It’s a positive that NOTTOWAY gets Sophie Doyle back in the irons; Doyle rode him to victory last month.  There are a few questions about NOTTOWAY.  He hasn’t been the most consistent — but he should be able to build on his allowance win, and his best races put him right in league with THE TABULATOR.  The other question lurking over NOTTOWAY’s head is the distance, as his one extended sprint try had him well beaten.  But, that was a six and a half furlong allowance against older horses.  He is back in with his age group here.  With a perfectly good mile pedigree and the patient hands of Sophie Doyle, NOTTOWAY should make better account this time around.

Trainer Chris Block sends out a pair.  WILE E PEYOTE may be part of the pace with the blinkers, but he needs a major step forward to cut it here.  On the other hand, outside-drawn STROLLIN THE BAYOU appeals more.  The daughter of Stroll faces boys for the first time in her career, and could not have found a better time to do it.  It took her a while to get on track this year, but once she switched to rider Carlos Marquez, she has been on fire.  She upset the Purple Violet two starts back going the one-turn polytrack mile — and did it faster than CHIEF OAKIE DOKIE won the Springfield, the boys’ complement over the same track and distance that day.  STROLLIN THE BAYOU showed a devastating late kick that day, and then fired strong once again when bwinning a turf route allowance on July 13.  As a closer, STROLLIN THE BAYOU could do for some pace in front of her — but two back in the Purple Violet, she ran down a pace that while, not always uncontested, was less than torrid.



#8 NOTTOWAY (10/1)


Longshot:  #2 SIR ANTHONY (15/1) has been a tough nut to crack over his ten-race career.  But, his best race all year (and his only really good race over polytrack) has been over the one-turn mile trip, in a photo finish with CHIEF OAKIE DOKIE and WILE E PEYOTE in the Springfield Stakes.  All three of those need to improve from that effort to get in the frame for the Bruce D — but SIR ANTHONY is both the one likely to get ignored on the tote based on his muddy form, and the one who has lured the riding services of Florent Geroux.  SIR ANTHONY won’t likely get the same sort of trip he got in the Springfield — he’s not quite so sharp early — but his Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity last year suggested he can be effective rating and rallying on a good day, and the anomalously strong polytrack effort in the Springfield suggests the extended one turn may be SIR ANTHONY’s sweet spot.


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