Million Week 2019: Beverly D. Stakes Preview

When you have a racetrack, and want to honour your late wife, you can hardly do better than running one of the premier filly and mare turf races of the year in her name.  The Beverly D. Stakes takes its name from Beverly Duchossois, wife of Arlington Park chairman Richard Duchossois.  Beverly Duchossois passed away in 1980; this race has been run in her name since 1987.  Once, a horse in Richard Duchossois’s silks won the race run in his late wife’s honour:  in 2010, Eclair De Lune kicked home in the final furlong to win it for the home team.  Other winners of the Beverly D have included Hall of Fame inductee Flawlessly (1991), as well as Eclipse champions Possibly Perfect (1995), Stacelita (2011), Dank (2013), and SISTERCHARLIE (2018).

SISTERCHARLIE returns to defend her crown.  She is one of two horses, along with Dank, to have completed the Beverly D./Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf double.  Now, she vies to become the first filly to win the Beverly D. twice.  Seven other fillies and mares have entered against her, with the prizes including a $600,000 purse, as well as a Win and You’re In bid to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.  The field of eight includes MAGIC WAND, who has been cross-entered in the Arlington Million and the Beverly D.

SISTERCHARLIE shows her class in the 2018 Beverly D. Stakes.  She is a likely favourite to repeat this feat.

Horse Racing Radio Network will cover the Arlington Million, the Beverly D, the Secretariat, as well as the Fourstardave (G1) and Saratoga Special (G2) from Saratoga, in an audio broadcast that runs from 3:30pm-6:30pm CDT.  This will stream on its website and on Sirius/XM 156.

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 10 – Arlington Park

Race 9: Beverly D Stakes (G1), three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one and three sixteenths miles on the turf, post time 4:53pm CDT

Up until the afternoon of July 13, I wondered whether SISTERCHARLIE would be ready to defend her Beverly D. title.  Then, she ran in the Diana (G1).  It was just a mile and an eighth, short of her best distance.  And, yet?  She laid waste to a small but good field.  She proved she was still SISTERCHARLIE.  Now she steps up to a mile and three sixteenths, a better trip for her.  She won’t mind the firm footing; there was a bit of cut at Belmont and even more two back when she won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill, but she proved in earlier starts that she’s just as effective on firm.  The one possible question involves the pace scenario, since the field of eight doesn’t have a crackling pace.  But?  In last year’s Beverly D., THAIS cleared to the lead and SISTERCHARLIE ran her down.  THAIS, who shares an owner (Peter Brant) as well as a trainer (Chad Brown) with SISTERCHARLIE, was her pacesetter in the Diana and returns for such duty in the Beverly D.

In another thing that falls into the as usual category, SISTERCHARLIE has a serious contender from her own shedrow.  Last year she held off Fourstar Crook; this year, she’ll have to outfinish COMPETITIONOFIDEAS.  COMPETITIONOFIDEAS is four years old, lightly-raced but consistent: ten starts, three wins, never off the board.  She has yet to win a stakes race against older foes, but it isn’t for lack of trying: she ran second behind Homerique in both the Beaugay (G3) and the New York (G3), then second behind I’m So Fancy in the Matchmaker (G3).  Of course, that suggests she has improvement to make; Homerique is a very nice horse, though perhaps not quite up to SISTERCHARLIE’s standard.  But, she still has room to improve.  She should have no problem with the mile and three sixteenths, between her win in the mile and a quarter American Oaks (G1) last year and her good second in the mile and a quarter New York this year.  And, COMPETITIONOFIDEAS is pace-versatile.  She isn’t a frontrunner — and doesn’t have to be, with THAIS entered — but is good from close to the pace or well off it.  It gives her the chance to get the jump on SISTERCHARLIE, though the tall order will be holding her off in the end.

Aidan O’Brien also entered two.  FLEETING is entered exclusively in the Beverly D.; MAGIC WAND is cross-entered in this race and the Arlington Million.  Between the two, FLEETING is narrowly preferred.  She does have something to prove, as she is three years old, and the Beverly D. is not the easiest place to make a first attempt against older horses.  However, she has been holding her own in the top end of the three-year-old filly set in her last three, ever since stretching from a mile to a mile and a half.  She hit the board in the Oaks (G1) at Epsom, the Ribblesdale (G2) at Royal Ascot, and the Irish Oaks (G1) at the Curragh. She will benefit from having some pace set by THAIS as well (with perhaps either MAGIC WAND or REMEMBER DAISY close by), given that she makes her running from midfield or toward the rear.  Both FLEETING and MAGIC WAND have the issue of needing a win this year: FLEETING’s last victory came in the May Hill (G2) last September, and Magic Wand’s came in the Ribblesdale (G2) last June.  But, with MAGIC WAND cross-entered in the Million, and with it seeming like a run in the Beverly D. instead of the Million would be a vote of less confidence for MAGIC WAND, the fact that the Beverly D. is a reasonable but ambitious spot for FLEETING suggests her as the better-meant from Ballydoyle.


#1 FLEETING (5/2)

Longshot:   Though #2 AWESOMETANK (8/1) has yet to prove herself a Grade 1 or Group 1 horse — this is the four-year-old’s first try at the top level — she is coming out of the Summer Mile (G2) at Ascot, a race that featured some seasoned and classy male milers like Beat the Bank and Suedois.  She steps up to a trip that she has never tried before, the mile and three sixteenths.  Though, she has a solid mile and an eighth try last year in the Prix Bertrand de Tarragon (G3) at Longchamp, finishing second behind My Sister Nat.  (My Sister Nat is, coincidentally enough, an Acclamation half to SISTERCHARLIE — and she is now in Chad Brown’s barn, too.)  And, AWESOMETANK’s dam has already produced a winner at the mile and three sixteenths distance.   In terms of pace, she has tactical speed.  That may prove to be AWESOMETANK’s greatest asset: if neither MAGIC WAND nor REMEMBER DAISY try to push THAIS too hard early, AWESOMETANK should be in a particularly good spot.  Her rider, Arlington star Florent Geroux, should make sure of that, and figure out how to get the best from her at a price.


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