2017 Arlington Million Day Picks with Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
The eyes of the horse racing world shift to Arlington Park on Saturday for the one day of the calendar year that that track is actually relevant these days. Arlington cards three massive Grade 1 turf races, each of which will play an impact on the turf racing scene through the summer and right up to the Breeders' Cup. The Arlington Million is the biggest prize, but the Beverly D for fillies and mares and the Secretariat for three-year-olds are also very significant events. And, of course, we are going to preview all three.
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This mile and a quarter turf contest for a, not surprisingly, million dollar purse, is a wide-open affair. Thirteen horses have entered, and only four can be relatively easily tossed out.
The favorite, at 7/2, is the Aidan O'Brien-trained Euro Deauville. He was second in this race last year but has not won since the Belmont Derby in the start prior to last year's Million. He has run in very big races in Europe since and has been competitive and close but never quite tops.
Another Euro, Mekhtaal, is the second choice at 9/2. The odds feel low for this primarily France-based runner as he is coming off a sixth-place finish at Royal Ascot, actually running behind Scottish, who is 8/1 here and is actually Irish, in that race. He has won twice at this distance to prove himself, but I'll look elsewhere.
Divisidero and Beach Patrol, both at 5/1 on the morning line, represent the best of the domestic hopes. Divisidero is a very nice horse when at his best but is wildly, frustratingly inconsistent. The last two years he has won on the Kentucky Derby undercard in grand style then followed it up with a total dud at Belmont. It wouldn't be good for my blood pressure to trust him here. Beach Patrol hasn't won since the Secretariat here last year but has been consistently competitive in big races since. He will factor prominently in my exacta betting, likely paired heavily with Deauville.
One horse at longer odds stands out as the most interesting beyond the favorites. Trainer Graham Motion is typically pretty conservative, so when he runs a horse back in just two weeks, like he is with Ascend (10/1), it stands out as interesting. The horse rode a three-race winning streak, capped by his first grade 1 victory, into the Bowling Green at Saratoga last time out, but he didn't really fire and finished fourth. Motion seems to be looking to use the horse's fitness for a better effort, and I am buying in, using him with Deauville and Beach Patrol in exactas and trifectas.
This $600,000 contest for top fillies and mares has drawn a strong field of 10 runners. Like The Arlington Million, it is a Win and You're In race, so beyond the winner's share of the purse the horses are also racing for a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup.
The most interesting horse here is the favorite, Dona Bruja (7/2). She has never run worse than second in 12 career starts and has won five straight. Only the last two of those starts have been in the U.S., though, and both in Grade 3 races. Prior to that she was dominating action in Argentina. So, will her impressive form and will to win translate to the highest levels of North American turf racing? I'm willing to buy in, unless the price falls well below where it sits now.
Chad Brown, the best of the American turf trainers, has three entered here, but the most interesting is Dacita, the second choice at 4/1. She won the Grade 1 Diana a year ago at Saratoga and then finished second twice in a row in photo finishes. Her last race was a dud, but she should bounce back strong and will be the biggest threat to Done Bruja.
The Euro hopes are best represented by Aidan O'Brien's Rain Goddess (5/1). She's only three but has finished second in Group 1 races in Ireland twice already this summer - the first against older horses. She is a real contender and makes up a logical but chalky exacta combination with Dona Bruja and Dacita.
Only six three-year-olds were entered, but don't mistake a lack of quantity for a lack of intrigue. Two horses will get the bulk of the betting attention. Oscar Performance (8/5) won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last year and is coming off a very nice victory in the Belmont Derby last time out. You can't get too fancy with horses at prices this low, so I'm picking him to win and going with it. I love his breeding and am very happy to bet Jose Ortiz in a big stakes race. Permian (9/5) is his biggest threat. The Euro has two big Group 2 wins but has faltered after each race when stepping up to Group 1 action. Oscar Performance has handled bigger races better, and Permian is crossing the ocean for the first time, so I'll back the domestic hope - while accepting that he is likely to get bet down significantly.
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