Arlington Park Picks & Graded Stakes Analysis for The Last Million Day

Formerly known as 'The Million Day,' Arlington Park hosts what will probably be its last, as it plans to close in September ... Take a look at what J.N. Campbell has for on the menu ...
Formerly known as "The Million Day," Arlington Park hosts what will probably be its last, as it plans to close in September ... Take a look at what J.N. Campbell has for on the menu ...

It is time for the last hurrah, as Arlington International Racecourse hosts the final edition of what used to be known simply as "The Million Day." With a set of renamed races, and a restructured purse schedule, the day is going to marked by a mix of emotions. Running for 38+ years ... with misses only for 2 years in '98/'99, and in 2020 due to COVID-19.

A fire, long shots, and wonderful panache all make up this story. Track announcer John G. Dooley will preside over the final festivities, all the way to the formal closing by the owners, Churchill Downs Inc, this September. In the meantime, our turf-man has the "Graded Stakes" covered with an in-depth analysis that is sure to bring a smile to your face, and some tickets to cash. Check it out, as we celebrate the final "Million."

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country this Saturday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

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Race 6: Turf, 1 1/8th, Pucker Up Stakes (G3), $100k, 3F

The final version of the Pucker Up brings together a nice little group of routers on the grass that kicks off the “Graded” portion of the Arlington Program. To my eye, this race comes down to 3 entries … Graham Motion’s Oyster Box #1, Chad Brown’s Shantisara #3, and Brendan Walsh’s Flown #4. Any one of these fine fillies could fleece the others for the score.

Motion’s 3-yr-old out of Tapit has some precocious runs under her saddle, and just needs that breakthrough contest to put her on the right track. She has all the tools, and gets the right jock in Luis Saez. He is in-town from Saratoga where he is the leading rider. Gainesway invests wisely …

As for Brown’s filly out of Coulsty (IRE), her U.S. debut was a shaky success as she placed in a 75k “Non-G” at Monmouth. Dubb and Madaket are hoping for better in this class leap. I do not think running on the provincial tracks in France quite qualifies her for G3 Co. She has blind spots that cannot be avoided … that is her weakness as SoCal super jock Flavien Prat comes to ride.

As for the last candidate for the win, Walsh’s experienced router looks legit. We all know what the offspring of Kitten’s Joy can do on the green. Having just missed by a head in the Hatoof 75k last out at Arlington, she has the form and once again gets Adam Beschizza along for the ride. Out of these, she would be my play on top. If she slips to 4/1, then that qualifies as an overlay, in the opinion of this ‘capper. A bet … it’s on!

Wagering Recommendation: $100 Bankroll, Graduated Wager, WP #4 ($15-W, $75-P)

 

Race 7: Turf, 1 3/16ths, Beverly D. Stakes (G1), Purse $400k, F&M 3+

The only “Graded’ race on “The Million” card that did not suffer a name change is this one—Beverly D. Historically, a tough and salty contest, this last go-round has interesting angles.

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is looking for one last gasp of Arlington glory, as he has supported endeavors here by shipping in some of his best. By the looks of things, Santa Barbara #4 can be a winner after she scored back at Belmont in the Oaks Invitational (G1). She was a short price that day, as Ryan Moore piloted her to a storming late victory. Looking back on her IRE-UK days, she faced some stiff competition in the likes of Thundering Nights, Snowfall and Cayenne Pepper. That kind of class will help in a spot like this one. I give her top marks, and I am sure Moore is ready to finish his Arlington riding career with a bang.

Opposing the O’Brien runner is Graham Motion’s excellent-looking Mean Mary #2. Jokes aside … she is one tough frontrunning customer of late. Her 2 races at Pimlico and then at Belmont were both wire wins. Clearly, she is formidable, and should be very tough to catch once again with Luis Saez in the irons once again. He does well with these types, and Motion is a master tactician when it comes to older female horses. Mr. Alex Campbell Jr. is an excellent owner with a great backstory, and this would be a meaningful win, en route to encore entry in the BC Filly and Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar in November.

At this point, I cannot see really anyone else who can challenge this pair. Chad Brown’s play, Lemista #6 has an outside chance at best. She does not have the star quality, Even though her barn is brimming with talent, I do not think she particularly has what it takes to seal the deal. My nod goes to O’Brien, just because of her deep closing ability. What a contrast in styles … this one is going to be something.

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 2/4/6

 

Race 8: Turf, 1 Mile, Bruce D. Stakes (G1), Purse $300k, 3

If there is a wide-open “Graded” race on this Saturday Arlington card, then it must be the Bruce D. Stakes. Formerly known as the Secretariat S., most that are betting this one will gravitate towards Tango Tango Tango #2 at 2/1 on the M/L. The Calumet homebred is trained by Jack Sisterson, and he has a nice record in “G” Co., albeit a small sample. Last out, in the local Arlington prep known as the American Derby100k, the colt out of Tourist notched a 2-length victory. In 4 career races, that was easily a “signature.” Jockey Declan Cannon is back, and he is going to have a task trying to rate this one just off the pace. It will be easy.

Opposing these connections is my top pick, Eddie Kenneally’s Point Me By #6. This 3-yr-old out of Point of Entry has upside even though he was blanked from being in the money last out at Saratoga in a highly rated ALLW103k contest. He can and will do much better against this field, despite being short on “G” experience. What he does get is a superstar jockey in the saddle in Luis Saez, who is subbing for Tyler Gaffalione. Not a bad replacement … eh? Coming into this race at 3/1 would be a fine price, and a worthy bet on the top of any ticket. Eddie K. is a long time Kentucky-based conditioner, and it would be great to see him celebrate in the winner’s circle in the last edition of this race.

Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #6

 

Race 9: Turf, 1¼, Mr. D. Stakes (G1), Purse $600k, 3+

The Mr. D. Stakes aka “Arlington Million,” is headed for the Final Act … the curtain will fall on a wonderful history, and we hope to get the storybook ending that we all want—a safe and fair race. The actors taking the grass stage include towards the top of the tote board, the “Heavy Favorite,” the “Irish Import,” and the “Local Long Shot.” Which one will take the prize?

Well, Chad Brown has won this race seemingly countless times, and he once again has the inside track with the excellent Domestic Spending #3, who if he isn’t even money at post time, will be simply astounding. Everything about this Klarvich-owned router is classy, and once again he gets his now regular rider, Flavien Prat. As I have said before, if he is on his game, he will be virtually impossible to beat. “Those are the facts,” to quote A Few Good Men, “and they are undisputed.” A win here would be a nice cap to a summer that will point in the fall to what is most assuredly a trip to the BC Turf (G1) at Del Mar.

As for the other 2 antagonists in this plot, we shouldn’t forget about the “Irish Import.” Aidan O’Brien’s Armory #9 will have a navy-clad jockey aboard of some renown. Who gets the call here?  Of course, it is international frequent flyer Ryan Moore. He is aboard a good one that ran nicely in the Prince of Wales S. (G1) at Royal Ascot, then in the York S. (G2) at York in June and July, respectively. The Galileo colt was up against Bangkok, stablemate Love, and Audarya (BC Champ) in those contests. No easy task that he was put through … Coming to Arlington is a rite of passage for Ballydoyle runners, and O’Brien has been through this shipping process many times before. One has to think that his entry will be prepared, and ready to exhibit a powerful turn of foot. What a stretch run we are in for …

As for a legitimate “Local Long Shot,” who is also a sentimental favorite, look no further than Bizzee Channel #8. I said in my Preview from a few days back that a Larry Rivelli win in the last running of the “Arlington Million” would be as bittersweet as could be. If his 5-yr-old gelding could pull off the upset it would rank right up there with The Pizza Man’s victory back in 2015. As the local legend who wins training title after title, he is going to be severely affected by the track’s closing in September. Rivelli has never won a Grade 1, and this would be nothing short of a doozy, if he could pull it off. His jockey is leading rider Jareth Loveberry who knows this grass better than anyone. I like his late gears very much, and Rivelli has the horse that can do it. Speaking of timing … 3rd in the form cycle is appealing … and that win in the prep, the Arlington (G3), was inspiring.

I vote for Bizzee Channel #8 … for the win! There is nothing like a good horse tale, on a stage that is about to close for good. Thanks for the memories Arlington … we will miss you most ardently!

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Box, 3/8/9

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It’s “Million Day” at Arlington International Racecourse! Enjoy what this Chicago landmark has to offer!

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