Arlington Park is open and that means that the long-awaited summer draws near. To warm up, here are some brief thoughts on Saturday’s Stakes highlight, the well-contested Hanshin Cup at 8 furlongs over the polytrack.


S= Stalker

C= Closer

1) Havelock (12-1)- C, 95 Beyer (8f, AP, 5/12) Last 8 starts at shorter distances, and 6 of those on turf, but won this two years ago and is always coming late, so added distance and surface switch isn’t a huge concern, but descending Beyers in last 4 might be.

2) Pataky Kid (30-1)- S, 85 Beyer (7f, AP, 7/13)

3/3 at AP but steps up in class here, last race at 6.5f downhill on turf coming off an 8 month layoff can be viewed as a tuneup, but he was nowhere to be found in ’13 curtain call at Del Mar. Maybe he needs a return to his favorite track and could get a ground-saving trip from the rail; price may be worth it to find out.

3) Sir Applesolutely (20-1)- C, 95 Beyer (7f, KEE, 10/13) Has never run beyond 7f but is always coming late, shows 4 wins at AP at shorter distances, with his two best efforts coming on the KEE poly rather than turf. A similar proposition to Havelock at a bit better price, but will he get any pace to run into with only two true speed horses, and both drawn far outside?

4) Hogy (3-1)- P/S, 102 Beyer (6f, AP, 5/14) Defending champ has 4 wins at AP and versatile runner has won on 3 different surfaces and different distances, but poly and 8f might just be his sweet spot. The one to beat on paper with the best last out and overall poly Beyer in the field, but wheels back in just two weeks and may be worth trying to keep off the top line at this price.

5) Nikki’s Sandcastle (6-1)- S, 94 Beyer (9f, KEE, 4/14) Mostly a turf runner, but has a win over the KEE poly from 10/13 at 9f and ran well when 3rd last out there at the same distance, cuts back a bit here but has won on turf at 8 and 8.5f.

6) Pass The Dice (12-1)- S, 100 Beyer (8f, CD, 3/13) First poly start, makes big class leap from OC company in second off the layoff, but fits on figures, translation to poly looms a big question.

7) Mister Mardi Gras (8-1)- S, 97 Beyer (8f, AP, 5/13) 2nd here last year, but 7 yo has been off form in ’14, eligible to improve in third start off the layoff, but seems more experienced on turf.

8) Joha (15-1)- S, 86 Beyer (9f, KEE, 4/14) First attempt at poly ended poorly in his last, as he had raced only on turf prior. Figs are middling even on that surface (91 Beyer at 8f his career topper).

9) Tulira Castle (30-1) S, 91 Beyer (7f, GP, 3/13) Improving winner of last two broke maiden over AP poly but has raced over only dirt since then, needs another step forward but price will be right.

10) Occasional View (4-1) S, 97 Beyer (7f, KEE, 4/14) Makes first AP start, shows good poly form at shorter distances, price seems short on the ML given the competition.

11) Fordubai (15-1)- S/P, 103 Beyer (8.5f, FG, 1/14) Rough trip in last vs a much tougher field, now cuts back in distance on AP course where he has won twice at 8f, dirt Beyer tops the field and can contend for the win by translating that back to poly, won’t be 15-1 but should offer great value here, the choice.

12) Valentino Beauty (20-1)- P, 92 Beyer (8.5fT, KEE, 4/14) Turf runner makes first poly start, should contend for the early lead from wide post, questions beyond that.

13) Francois (20-1)- S/P, 95 Beyer (8.5f, HAW, 4/14) Son of Smarty Jones shows improving last 3 Beyers on dirt, now switches back to poly on familiar course where he has 6 career wins, will have to overcome wide draw in between the main speed but fits as the horse for the course.

14) Mongolian Saturday (20-1)- P, 92 Beyer (8f, PID, 9/13) Stretches back out to 8f on poly after running last 3 on dirt at 5.5, 6 and 6.5f, so has been working up to this, but tendency of need-the-lead type to falter late at distances beyond 7f combined with the widest post of all could spell trouble in a deep field.



1. Fordubai (15-1)

2. Hogy (3-1)

3. Nikki’s Sandcastle (6-1)

4. Francois (20-1)

5. Pataky Kid (30-1)


Place Bet on Fordubai

Trifecta Key: Fordubai/ Hogy, Nikki’s Sandcastle/ Hogy, Nikki’s Sandcastle, Francois, Pataky Kid

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