Big night Chicago – it’s Arlington Million Day! Three Grade 1 races on the turf, plus the US St. Leger – not a bad card of flat action in my book. So let’s have a look inside – here’re some thoughts and selections:
American St. Leger (G3)
One of the locals is heading the betting market – Da Big Hoss. Given the strong record Europeans have in the race this might be a slight surprise, however this year’s challenge from overseas is not as strong as in years before.
That says there is a good reason to believe a local horse can land this unusual test – by US standards – of stamina.
Da Big Hoss has already proven his stamina landing the Belmont Gold Cup in impressive style, he’s also a multiple Stakes winner. He sets a high standard. On the other hand he gives crucial weight away, at a short price is probably worth to oppose.
The main European challenge is likely to come from Clondaw Warrior and Wasir – both very decent stayers. Though there are some question marks whether they have the required speed today.
Might sound counter intuitive in a race called St. Leger, but makes perfect sense as we shouldn’t forget the fast ground horses encounter at Arlington’s turf and the sharpness of of the track, including a short run-in.
The two I find most intriguing in the line-up are Billabong nd Montclair. The latter one formerly trained in France, has staying form good enough to feature, however the ground might be against him.
Billabong has won over this sort of trip, albeit on the All-Weather, but has also proven himself to be competitive over shorter in Group company. He should be fine on the fast ground and gets the benefit of first time lasix.
At 10/1 he looks too big in the betting, given the rather open nature of the race, in my mind.
Selection: Billabong @ 10/1 Ladbrokes
Secretariat Stakes (G1)
The first big one of the night and looking through the most recent history of the race it would be unwise not to have proper look at whatever Aiden O’Brien saddles.
It’s probably fair to say, though, this years entry Long Island Sound is not as strong as the likes of Highland Reel or Treasure Beach were in years before.
Interesting to see William Buick booked on a decent US horse in American Patriot. Hugely improved since fitted with blinkers, he has to carry a penalty after a recent Grade 3 success nonetheless and that makes life difficult.
Beach Patrol looks the most likely winner after an excellent third in the Belmont Derby. However he’s a short enough price, so my advice is: watch and enjoy the race, safe the money and buy cans of beer instead of burning it here.
Beverly D. Stakes (Grade 1)
It’s the big one for the females. A wide open race in my view, though I clearly see why Sea Calisi is a hot favourite. I was very fond of her last year when she still raced in Europe and was placed in the Prix Vermeille and Yorkshire Oaks – naturally that type of form gives her a standout chance.
She also had a good start to her US career, with a win and runner-up effort in Grade 2 competition. Worry for me today is her late running style and the trip. It’s a bit on the sharp side for her and she might get rolling too late.
Team Ballydoyle has the filly with the same name in the race. The 1.000 Guineas runner-up disappointed in the Belmont Oaks, which was her second poor showing on the bounce actually. .
Stable mate Coolmore is more interesting. I love the looks of this filly and rate her third place in the Belmont Oaks highly. From the widest draw, she missed the kick yet marched forward to share the lead soon and still managed to finish in the placings.
That was a big performance, although she ran out of steam in the closing stages – says she had every right to do so.
I always felt she’d be best suited over a stiff mile, but she deserves another chance over this sort of trip today, particularly with fast ground a help.
Selection: Coolmore @ 7/1 WH
Arlington Million (G1)
The main event of the night and you know what? It’s a straightforward race. Focus on the Europeans and you can’t go wrong!
Right, there’s 2015 Million winner The Pizza Man in the line-up, but he clearly is not in the same form as last year. Grade 1 turf winners Wake Forrest and World Approval are the main hope for the locals – both have good form in the book but would hardly be Group 1 material in Europe.
So here come the Europeans, all pumped to the eyeballs with lasix! Mondialiste proved he’s a different horse in the US. On his two starts – what coincidence both times on lasix – he outperformed his European form.
Tryster, first time on lasix today, should show improvement big time I suspect, though not only for the medication, but also for the likely fast pace in combination with the quick ground. He’ll be flying towards the end.
And there’s three year old Belmont Derby winner Deauville. A good horse, but not a world beater. However trip, track and ground is something he’ll love, and I can see him following up on his impressive Belmont success.
Deauville has to overcome a wide draw yet again, but he proved the other day the doesn’t lack early pace. Also he’s a big three year old, who’ll make most of the weight allowance today.
Whereas I’m not sure whether Mondialiste will enjoy the conditions, whereas Tryster might get going too late, Deauville should be in the right spot when it really matters.
Selection: Deauville @ 6/1 Ladbrokes