2018 Secretariat Stakes Preview

Secretariat’s Triple Crown run in 1973 ensures that he will remain top of mind as a dirt horse. Even the Arlington Invitational, his first race back after his historic Belmont Stakes, was a dirt race. However, the final two starts of Secretariat’s career happened over grass. His turf debut came in the Man o’ War Stakes (GI) at Belmont. The surface change did nothing to dull his dominance. He got to the front, and scored a five-length wire-to-wire victory. His final career start came in the 1973 Canadian International (GII) at Woodbine, also over the grass. He came from off the pace this time around, but the result remained the same: Secretariat won by daylight.

The next year, Arlington Park instituted the Secretariat Stakes.  The race has been run at distances as short as a mile and a sixteenth and as long as a mile and a half over its history, but has covered a mile and a quarter for each of its runnings since 1985.   The race has been a productive source of Arlington Million winners, given the Million’s international nature, as four horses who won the Secretariat Stakes have gone on to win the Arlington Million: Awad (1993, won the 1995 Million), Marlin (1996, won the 1997 Million), and Kicken Kris (2003, won the 2004 Million), and Beach Patrol (2016, won the 2017 Million).   Oscar Performance, last year’s Secretariat Stakes winner, will try to become the fifth.

Adelaide, despite a desire to say hello to the outside rail, wins the 2014 Secretariat Stakes.  Trained by Aidan O’Brien — who sends a pair to the Secretariat this year — Adelaide would go on to win the Cox Plate (G1) at Moonee Valley later in the year.  To this day, he remains the last horse not named Winx to win the Cox Plate.

The Arlington Million, in addition to the Beverly D, will be part of a live telecast on NBC Sports Network, running from 5:00pm-6:00pm CDT.  Horse Racing Radio Network will stream a broadcast of the Arlington Million, the Beverly D, the Secretariat, as well as stakes from Saratoga from 4:00pm-6:30pm CDT.  This will stream on its website and on Sirius/XM 93.

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.

Selections are made for turf only.  

Saturday, August 11 – Arlington Park

Race 9: Secretariat Stakes (G1), three-year-olds, one and one quarter miles on the turf, post time 4:48pm CST

The pace setup in the Secretariat is a tough problem to crack.  REAL STORY will send from the rail — but will anyone in the field of thirteen go with him?  BANDUA has shown tracking pace; in his second start he briefly took the initiative, but relinquished it and then came back to win.  It’s hard to see him going with REAL STORY.  DUBBY DUBBIE also showed some speed earlier in his career, but has truly come into himself as more of a stalking to mid-pack type.  Though marooned relatively outside, ninth in a field of thirteen, ANALYZE IT seems a bit more likely to go.  He showed pace in his juvenile outings, and has settled into a stalking style this year.

ANALYZE IT looked a standout among the American three-year-old turf division at one point in the year.  At this point, he still looks like one of the better in the division.  He can stay the ten-furlong trip, and he can handle some cut in the ground.  He should even have a perfectly reasonable pace, tracking in close range of REAL STORY, nothing that will burn him out early.  But, the two losses to Catholic Boy in the Pennine Ridge (G3) and the Belmont Derby (G1) are enough to make one wonder whether he can dig in when a race is not a runaway.  On one hand, Catholic Boy is a hard-trying son-of-a-gun.  On the other, particularly in the Pennine Ridge, it looks like Analyze It had seized control, and then he hadn’t.  In five career races ANALYZE IT has won three romps, and lost two close calls.  It’s a huge question — will he have the guts if someone challenges him in the lane?  And, who could be that someone?

All of the American contenders — even last-out trip-troubled UNTAMED DOMAIN, who may turn out to be a wise guy horse here, but has been an underneath sort even in less troubled races at age three — would have to take a serious step forward to run ANALYZE IT’s race.  Among the international contenders?  ANALYZE IT has already faced the likely shortest-priced visitor HUNTING HORN, and finished clear of that foe in the Belmont Derby.  Yes, HUNTING HORN was wide in the Belmont Derby — but with the 13 gate in the Secretariat Stakes and the gate starting up on the far turn, HUNTING HORN may find it tough not to be wide once again — Ryan Moore will doubtless try to work out a trip with him, and he shouldn’t be too far out of it, but the wide gate is a concern.  The other Ballydoyle stablemate LUCIUS TIBERIUS drew the 12 gate, so almost as wide.  He is a three-time winner at the distance and he did beat older at Leopardstown last-up, but it’s not a positive that Donnacha O’Brien isn’t shipping to ride him after that.

For once, the most attractive shipper is not from Ballydoyle: instead, he hails from the Michael Halford yard.  PLATINUM WARRIOR won a Group 3 at the mile and a quarter distance (seven lengths clear of fellow Secretariat Stakes entrant MING, who finished sixth) two starts ago at the Curragh.  That day, he soundly beat Latrobe.  Next out, in the Irish Derby, Latrobe turned the tables — but that was at a mile and a half.  Here PLATINUM WARRIOR dials back to a mile and a quarter.  He has tactical speed, something that should help him given the uncertainty of who will go with REAL STORY up front.  One question that arose this week about PLATINUM WARRIOR was his staying in quarantine an extra day — but he made it out on Wednesday, and looked as good as you’d hope a contender would.



#9 ANALYZE IT (2/1)

#13 HUNTING HORN (7/2)

Longshot:  Usually a horse who finishes underneath as much as #7 CAPTIVATING MOON (20/1) has this year doesn’t get much of a look from this space.  But, there are several reasons the home team (he is trained by Chris Block, and broke his maiden at Arlington last year) deserves some interest in the Secretariat.  CAPTIVATING MOON adds blinkers for the first time, a move that could keep him a bit more focused — and that could reduce his tendency to stay too far out of it for too long.  He gets rider Florent Geroux in the irons.  Geroux often proves hard to beat on Million Day, and won the race two years back with Beach Patrol.  And, finally, CAPTIVATING MOON won’t be chalk this time around.  Perhaps the 20/1 morning line won’t hold — but 15/1 sounds reasonable given the group, and that’s a far more appetizing price to suggest that the blinkers will help him than the 3/2, 5/2 prices at which he has been going off in his last few starts.


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