Million Week 2019: 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, Chris Block, and Anthony Mitchell have all had winners of the race: Fordubai, I Got It All, Recount, Yo Carm, and Sir Anthony, respectively.  Among those locally based winners, all but Fordubai are Illinois-foaled.  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.

Sir Anthony introduces the Million Day crowd to his late kick, winning the 2018 Bruce D. Memorial.

The Bruce D. Memorial winner who has made the biggest impact in graded stakes to date has been its most recent winner: Sir Anthony.  Though he was a 35/1 longshot that day, he has since proven himself as a good horse who came into his own that day.  He went on to upset the 2018 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream, and also won the 2019 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3).

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 10 – Arlington Park

Race 8: Bruce D. Memorial Stakes, three-year-olds, one mile on the polytrack, post time 4:18pm CST

Once upon a time, DABO called it a night.  He had a few more bites from the hay net, splayed out on the floor of his stall, and had a dream.  He dreamt he was running over his favourite track, the Arlington polytrack.  He dreamt he had plenty of speed to close into, preferably a pair of Larry Rivelli speedsters, and a few others from different barns just to be safe, in case one of the bearers of the Patricia’s Hope teal and white were to scratch.  He had the most restful night of his three-year life, and then he woke up.  And then, he read the entries to the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes, and DABO began to wonder whether there was something behind the Law of Attraction, after all.

There aren’t many races for DABO at Arlington Park, but as long as he can handle just two weeks off after his easy victory in the Springfield Stakes, the Bruce D. Memorial looks as favourable a spot for him as possible.  BIG DRINK OF WATER, last year’s Arlington-Washington Futurity winner, got cooked in a pace battle in a sprint when he returned for his three-year-old debut, and now he’ll have to deal with speedy new stablemate CAN’T HIDE FROM ME, another frontrunning private purchase for Patricia’s Hope.  Then, there’s SOVEREIGN IMPACT, basically forced to send from the fence, and MANNY WAH, who likely breathes down their necks from outside.

All in all, it looks a great setup for DABO to add another chapter to an already rich history of Illinois-registered horses winning this race.  His pedigree couldn’t be better suited for the polytrack, his Arlington polytrack races are the best of his career, and he stands to get a smart pace unfolding in front of him.  This won’t be quite as easy as the Springfield Stakes, which he won two weeks ago over course and distance, but it’s a challenge he should be more than able to tackle.

Set aside the Woody Stephens, a race that proved just a bit over LEXITONIAN’s head, and he has had a solid spring/summer campaign.  A tough Derby Day allowance knocked the rust off after a layoff, and he has won both the six-furlong Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico and the seven-furlong Concern Stakes at Laurel.  The Concern was only listed, but he got the best of a smart sprinter in Mind Control that day, which speaks well for his quality.  LEXITONIAN hasn’t ever tried either polytrack or the mile before.  But, his sire Speightstown shines on synthetic surfaces, and even though LEXITONIAN didn’t love the two-turn mile the one time he tried it, both his pedigree and his gutsy last-out effort at seven furlongs speak well toward his ability to make good account in this one-turn mile attempt.  And, on pace?  He has that beautiful combination of sharp early pace but the need to be tactical.  He doesn’t make the running, but he can stay close to a sharp early pace and keep going.  Hence, he will likely be the last one that the likes of DABO will have to run down.

MANNY WAH found the Pat Day Mile (G3) too tough last out.  But, between Mr. Money and Hog Creek Hustle, that race graded out extremely well, so there’s no shame in that when coming into a field like the Bruce D.  He has early speed, but, he doesn’t actually have to go.  And, he gets back rider Channing Hill, who has ridden him enough to get good races out of him either on the front end or coming from a bit off the pace.  MANNY WAH has tried the polytrack at Arlington once, a gritty maiden win in which he dueled with an impeccably tuned Bizzee Channel much of the way around and came out victorious.  His form is a bit muddle given all the tough races he has tried, but his fresh efforts have been strong, and there is plenty to suggest that the one-turn mile, at the right class level, should be right up MANNY WAH’s alley.  With the long run into the turn, the relatively wide gate should be no issue at all, and the class level is absolutely right for MANNY WAH to show his best self.


#11 DABO (5/1)
#10 LEXITONIAN (9/2)
#9 MANNY WAH (10/1)

Longshot:  #8 BETWITHBOTHHANDS (15/1) has much to prove in this: after all, he’s stepping up from a $35K beaten claimer.  But, he had plenty to prove that day, too, as he was stepping up from $12.5K company, and he beat the fields at both levels equally comprehensively.  Both of those victories, just like all four of his wins this Arlington meet and all five of his wins this year, have come against older horses, and they came with the kind of authority that made it easy to forget that he was just a three-year-old laying waste to some grizzled Chicago horses.  BETWITHBOTHHANDS has a lot to prove in the Bruce D., both that he can handle stakes-quality three-year-olds and that he can handle one turn, since his better form has come at a mile and a sixteenth.  But?  He loves the polytrack, he has not tried anything but a mile and a sixteenth since breaking his maiden on opening day, and he won while showing a true stalking gear last out.  BETWITHBOTHHANDS will probably be in the right price to bet that he can handle one turn and this class jump, now that the light has come on in his head.


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