Arlington Preview Day Picks and Analysis

5- American Derby, 9f, 3:19

This small field will be mostly stretching out for this, as only two of the seven runners have ever gone this distance on turf, and none have ever won over it. The main question seems to be determining where the pace will come from, as none of these runners are true speed types. On class, we really like WORLD APPROVAL best, coming off back to back races where he finished a combined 4.25 lengths behind the highly talented Divisidero. A versatile type, he’s closed from off the pace but can also rate near the front as he did in his last at this distance, and it’s the latter style that when combined with his class edge seems to fit the bill here. NUN THE LESS looms an intriguing prospect for local connections coming off an even 6th place finish behind the top pick in his last. He didn’t get the right set up in that race, but a return to the front-running style demonstrated when winning before that at 8.5f in allowance company could put him right in the mix at a square price. Use just those two for multi-race wagers in the smallest field of the sequence. The other to have run 9f is KING OF NEW YORK, and he showed a field high last out BRIS speed figure when winning his last, but steps up in class a bit here. FIRESPIKE also showed a big speed figure over the synthetic track at Turfway when 3rd in the Grade III Spiral two back and does have two wins over the turf, but was easily beaten by the top choice in his last and may not find as much pace here to close into as would be ideal. He comes off a long layoff but deserves a look underneath on class.

Picks:

1) World Approval 2-1

2) Nun The Less 7-2

3) King of New York 9-2

4) Firespike 3-1

6- Arlington Handicap, 9.5f, 3:50

With the expected defection of The Pizza Man to the final race of the day, the Stars and Stripes, this one looks virtually devoid of pace. DRAMEDY draws the rail here just as he did in his last, a front-running score in the Grade II Elkorn at 12f. He’s been laid off two months since then but has posted two bullet works over that time frame and could be poised to take advantage of a lead that none of these appear to want, and gets a cutback. The consistent work patterns off the long layoff should ease concern of a bounce following a career high and field high last out BRIS speed figure (99). He also shows the highest Early Pace figure from his last race and figures to get an easy lead if he wants it; that could be the difference here. The stocky MIDDLEBURG exits a nose loss in the 9f Monmouth Stakes, where he sat back a bit too far off a slow pace and closed well. If he can revert to a similar tactics as he displayed winning three back over optional claimers, where he rated closer to the pace, he could be impactful at the end. The same can be said for TRIPLE THREAT, who bested the second choice in his last, and is a Group 2 winner in France. He likes to come from a bit further back and may not get an ideal pace setup today, but the added distance should suit his purposes, and he has looked great over the track this week by all accounts. UP WITH THE BIRDS turned in an impressive effort in is season debut when 3rd in the 8.5f Dixie and ran on well to be 4th in last year’s 10f Million over this track. No doubt he will appreciate the added distance here as well, but he may be the deepest closer of them all and isn’t likely to have much to run into.

Picks:

1) Dramedy 10-1

2) Middleburg 7-2

3) Triple Threat 5-2

4) Up With The Birds 4-1

7- Modesty Handicap, 9.5f, 4:21

There appears to be enough speed signed on here, with both true need-the-lead types drawn on the rail and a handful of others who have won on the lead scattered throughout the field, for a closer to make an impact with some added distance. OVERHEARD hasn’t won since last summer’s Grade II Dance Smartly at Woodbine, where she was moving late at 9f, but has kept classy company and hasn’t been disgraced. She shows the field high BRIS speed figure (97) for her last effort where she missed by a length at 8f in the Grade 2 Nassau. She’s never gone beyond 9f but her running style suggests she may be begging for added ground, and the pace scenario should suit. Consistent type has only missed the board once in 16 starts and has done so in better company than these. Two Euro imports come into this following their first U.S. start, and of the two, we lean towards GAGA A, who cuts back from 12f after winning a stakes at Santa Anita. She’s a Group 3 winner across the pond and proved in California that she doesn’t require soft ground. The two here that show the most impressive late pace figures are LOTS OF LEX and the other Euro, MANGO DIVA. The former has shown four consecutive improving speed figures, and her tendency to run closer to the pace combined with her strong closing punch could land her near the lead with a shot at a big price. The latter enters off a tough trip when closing to be 4th in the 8.5f Gallorette, is a Group 1 winner overseas and deserves a look with the added distance. We’ll use all four in the deepest play for the sequence.

Notably, we’ll stand against 3-1 morning line favorite RIPOSTE, who does her best running on the lead and draws the far outside post coming off declining form over her last three starts. WALK CLOSE also seems a potential underlay at 7-2 coming off a closing 3rd place finish that doesn’t look competitive on figures.

Picks:

1) Overheard 5-1

2) Gaga A 9-2

3) Lots of Lex 15-1

4) Mango Diva 6-1

8- Stars and Stripes, 12f, 4:52

We missed out on a very nice Pick 4 score last year at this event by trying to beat THE PIZZA MAN in this race on our wider ticket; that will not be the case this year. With a lifetime record of 11-8-1-1 over the Arlington grass, it would be tough to argue that he isn’t the one to beat here as he goes for the repeat. After winning his 2015 bow over the Churchill Downs turf at 8.5f, he should be even sharper today and stretches out to a more ideal distance. A return to his back speed numbers from his last three efforts at this distance (111, 100, 103) would simply be too much for this field to overcome. If he is to falter, however, the improving ROMAN APPROVAL looks appealing as the main pace presence. He put in a career best effort last out when stretching out to 10.5f, posting a field high last out BRIS speed figure (98), so maybe he wants even more ground than that to show his best. XTRA LUCK tracked the pace when winning at this distance last out in the Louisville Handicap; FOR GREATER GLORY landed a length and a half behind him and both seem a logical contenders underneath as well off those efforts.

THREE HEARTS takes on the boys here and looks like an underlay at her morning line price, having won only once in her last ten races and stretching out further than ever before.

Picks:

1) The Pizza Man 2-1

2) Roman Approval 12-1

3) Xtra Luck 5-1

4) For Greater Glory 6-1

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