Arlington Million, Secretariat and Beverly D. Expert Betting Picks and Predictions
Arlington is only relevant one day per year anymore. However, when the once-great track in the Chicago area does it, they do it right. They have only three Grade 1 races on their calendar, and when they are run on the second weekend of August each year they make up the best turf card of the year in North America. The Arlington Million is a major Breeders' Cup Turf prep race, and in 1981 it became the first race to run for a purse of $1 million - the great John Henry won it for the first of two times. The Secretariat, originally created to attract Secretariat to the track in 1973 after his Triple Crown win, is the premier showcase for three-year-old turf horses on the calendar. And the Beverly D. is such a strong test for female turf horses that six winners of the race have gone on to win the divisional title since 1993. Here is a look at each of the three races:
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Oscar Performance is favored in this race, and he is clearly being aimed at a late-peaking pursuit of a division title. Last year he peaked too early. He was the top three-year-old turf horse later on, topping out when he won the Secretariat on the Million undercard. But he was third next time out in his debut against older horses, and then his Breeders' Cup Turf outing was a disastrous ninth. This year his position was pushed well back - in part due to a mild case of colic - and this is just his second start of the year. He previously won the Poker Stakes at Belmont in mid-June. He's well rested, he's talented, and he likes the track. He'll be a strong and convincing favorite.
As you would expect, Chad Brown has a strong group here - it is a turf race, after all. North America's dominant turf trainer enters three here. Robert Bruce is the class of the group. He won his first seven races, with six coming in Chile before Brown took over. Last time out he was third in the Manhattan, but the race was very close, and he encountered some trouble. This is a legitimate horse, and he has to appear in exotics bets along with Oscar Performance. Brown won the race last year, and he is also live here with Money Multiplier, who raced in Qatar in February and has looked solid in two races back here since. Brown will be tough in this race.
Two more to look at here are Spring Quality, who won that tight Manhattan on the Belmont undercard and could be in great shape if things get frisky early on in this one, and Deauville. The latter is an Aidan O'Brien horse who has come over from Europe to finish third in this race each of the last two years. Last time out he looked rough as the well-beaten favorite at Ascot, so his form may not be ideal. And, finally, you can't overlook Century Dream. He's a four-year-old Euro who is making his North American debut and doing so off of reasonably short rest. A big performance wouldn't be a shock.
There is a very deep group of three-year-olds here for this race. The top domestic hope is, not surprisingly, trained by Chad Brown. Analyze It has three wins in five starts, and both losses have been to the very strong Catholic Boy. Brown won this race with Beach Patrol in 2016 and then won the Arlington Million the next year, so he surely will be hoping for the same here. And equally unsurprising is that Brown's biggest test comes from Europe and the barn of Aidan O'Brien. Europe's super trainer has a record four wins in this race and is well positioned for a fifth with two runners. Hunting Horn was third in the Belmont Derby last time out in his North American debut and should be more comfortable this time. His first win this year was over Latrobe, who went on to be a very strong winner in Dubai, so this horse has some serious potential. The other O'Brien colt is Lucius Tiberius, who has crossed the pond for the first time and takes a big step up in class after two lower-level wins in Ireland. He's tough to judge.
If Aidan O'Brien doesn't win then his son Joseph could. He enters Ming, a well-bred colt who has won his last two. Those wins came against just three and four horses, though, so it's tough to know what we will see in this horse's debut over here. It sure feels like he and the rest are going to struggle to keep up with Analyze It and Hunting Horn.
Chad Brown is great on the turf but particularly great with the ladies on the turf. He has won this race four times, including the last three editions. And he is loaded here with four entrants. In a nine-horse field that's barely fair. Sistercharlie is the likely favorite among his group, coming off a win in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga three weeks back. Fourstar Crook has beaten Sistercharlie this year, though, so the stablemates should be in for a tough battle. The other two Brown horses, Thais and Inflexibility, don't seem as strong. Thais shares an owner with Sistercharlie, though, and feels very much like a horse entered to be a rabbit. It should work -- Sistercharlie is going to be tough to beat here.
Dona Bruja was second in this race last year, but she has been frustratingly inconsistent since and hasn't raced since a lousy performance in April. I find her tough to love here. Athena, an Aiden O'Brien filly, is interesting coming off a nice win in the Belmont Oaks a month ago, but only one other three-year-old has won this race.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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