Arlington Million Preview Day Stakes Picks

4- Modesty Hcp, 8.5f, 2:49

Arlington track owner Richard Duchossois brings in MARYPOP off of two straight wins in France, both at longer distances and the latest a Group 3. It’s always easy to root for Mr D.’s charges on his home track, but there are a variety of angles here that appeal. As this race turned up fairly paceless, she should be able to either control the lead if desired or track steadily behind the slow pace. We like the cutback in distance for her as well here versus several of her rivals who will be stretching out, and if her preference for softer surfaces is a concern, it should help that she’s posted seven works over the Arlington track since May, so has had time to acclimate to it. She also gets first time Lasix. Her 3-1 on the morning line would be a gift, and will be our strongest win bet of the day at those odds. AL’S GAL also cuts back in distance after winning her last at 12f and posting a field high Brisnet Speed Figure of 105, and she showed ability to rate near the lead rather than close from the clouds as she did in previous races, and those tactics should suit here. She’s still never won a graded stakes, so this will be a jump in class, but she certainly fits on figures. Morning line favorite FAUFILER owns the field’s highest Racing Post Rating of 111 and gets class relief exiting a 5th place finish in the Grade I Just A Game, but it remains to be seen whether she can duplicate her closing punch stretching out beyond 9f. Seeing as how she has been better as a closing miler over her career, there are questions as to whether she will stand to benefit from the distance or the race shape; we will side with the cutback horses here. NO FAULT OF MINE also stretches out beyond 9f for the first time coming off a strong 2nd place finish over the Arlington polytrack in her last, but appears a bit light on figures compared to the top choices, and may not get the pace setup necessary for the needed improvement.

Picks:

1) Marypop 3-1

2) Al’s Gal 7-2

3) Faufiler 2-1

4) No Fault Of Mine 9-2

6- Stars And Stripes, 12f, 3:53

 The defending champion of the last two editions of this race as well as the 2015 Arlington Million, THE PIZZA MAN, returns to his home track, where he is 10/13 lifetime. He’ll be even money or less at the windows as he stretches back out to his preferred distance following two tuneups that found him off the board earlier this year. While he looms a defensive use in multi-race wagers and exotics, he’s been a nemesis of ours for years, and part of the fun of going out to Arlington is betting against him outright, even though that’s usually a lost cause. So, bombs away…We’re calling for CHIP LEADER to wire the field in a shocker. Coming off a five month layoff and having never raced beyond 9f, son of Giant’s Causeway is likely to be strongly overlooked at the windows. He’s 2/3 lifetime over this track, and posted two straight bullets over it in May before a series of maintenance moves that were clearly an effort to give him some bottom to stretch out here. Simply put, this is a sneaky spot to enter him if he wasn’t at least live off the lay, so we will take a shot, and there don’t appear to be any pedigree-related reasons he can’t get this distance, being out of a Tapit dam. ROMAN APPROVAL finished second last year, beaten just a nose by the champ. He has appeared a bit off form so far this year, but goes third off the lay for Mike Maker and gets a jockey switch with Corey Lanerie aboard. His past two works, both bullets, indicate he is ready for a big effort here, and his versatile running style should help him navigate a tough post. Lanerie jumps off O’PRADO OLE here, which is a strange move coming off a front-running win at this distance in his last, where he posted a field high last out Brisnet Speed Figure of 96. We’ll take that as a meaningful choice, but also will play against as he may well be run off his feet on the lead by the top selection. He’s also shown a pattern of alternating between strong races and duds, and he is currently due for the latter. More appealing underneath is BULLARDS ALLEY, who enters off a graded win at this distance in his last, but did so with a perplexingly low figure of 79.

Picks:

1) Chip Leader 30-1

2) The Pizza Man 1-1

3) Roman Approval 9-2

4) Bullards Alley 5-1

7- Arlington Hcp, 9.5f, 4:25

 Assessing race shape may prove to be the key determinant in how this renewal of the Arlington Handicap plays out. While there are several runners entered who have shown ability to run on the lead, there isn’t exactly a dearth of one-way speed. The battle up front figures to play out between two runners with practically opposite credentials. Favored GO AROUND cuts back in distance from his last when fading to 8th in the 11f Man O’War. He had won his last two at 9f and 8.5f respectively when running near the lead. While those distances may be more in his wheelhouse, he has won at 9.5f before in allowance company, and shows competitive figures in this group (99 Brisnet Speed Figure at 9f). ONLY IN AMERICA, by contrast, figures to gun for the lead but has never run on turf or beyond 9f. If he can translate his Brisnet Speed Figure of 98 earned on dirt at 8.5f to the new surface, he could loom a threat, but that’s making a pretty large assumption. More concering are his low Late Pace figures, which seem to indicate he won’t withstand a pace duel on the stretchout.  KASAQUI may be able to be placed a bit more tactically just off the pacesetters, the same way he was when he stormed home to win an 8.5f allowance three starts back. He lost the lead at 9f in his last, but that was less him backing up than simply running into a gritty closer in Pleuven, and since he has two wins at 10f in Argentina, shouldn’t be at a disadvantage stretching out here. In a race with ambiguous shape, we’ll settle for the horse that fits in the middle of it best for the distance, and it doesn’t hurt that he does show the field high Brisnet Speed Last Race (95). MESSI is arguably the classiest in the bunch, having previously won before at the Grade 3 level, but will have to navigate a wide trip from the widest post, and may not get the pace setup he needs. Although it bears mention that he did close into a pretty slow pace in that aforementioned win at a distance shorter than this, and holds the field high Brisnet Speed Figure in this group for that effort (100). It is tough to separate the top three and all merit inclusion in multi-race wagers. Looking for a bomber, there are a couple of horses for the course that intrigue. We slightly prefer R GREAT ADVENTURE, who was flat in his last but closed well to win his two prior starts at 8f. He shows 4 wins in 8 starts over the Arlington surface and he appears live if you can bring yourself to toss his last. He defeated fellow home town hero PEEJ recently by a half a length, and as the two are admittedly tough to separate we point towards that head to head result. This one shows 3 wins in 7 starts over the track and takes an equal class leap. Defending champion QUIET FORCE enters for a repeat attempt, but does so light on figures, and meets a tougher group here than he did last year.

Picks:

1) Kasaqui 9-2

2) Go Around 3-1

3) Messi 4-1

4) R Great Adventure 15-1

8- American Derby, 9f, 4:57

After a 17th place finish in the Kentucky Derby, which was the wrong surface, and a 5th place finish last out in the 8f Penn Mile, which was too short, OSCAR NOMINATED finally finds the right spot and draws the rail here. Son of Kitten’s Joy has turf breeding out the wazoo and stands to improve on the stretchout here, holding advantages over the field in Brisnet Prime Power and Current Class. Corey Lanerie picks up the mount, which is an added bonus, and his Brisnet Speed figure of 86 even in defeat is highly competitive here in terms of last out numbers. Remember, the polytrack win that got him into the Derby in the first place came at this exact distance. ONE MEAN MAN has a great name, and traded wins with the top choice in two shorter races at the Fairgrounds earlier this year before an impressive 2nd place finish from near the pace over this track in the Arlington Classic two back, holding on and beating several of today’s foes. His tactical speed should put him in position to hold on for similar honors here. The highest Brisnet Speed Last Race figure of 89 belongs to recent maiden winner MONGOLIAN HOLIDAY, and he’s worth a look at a price on the class jump. In a race where there appears to be no one-way speed, he could well find himself on the lead and carry them a long way; his maiden win came on dirt, but it was at 8.5f, and he was gaining through the finish. Connections turned local horse Mongolian Saturday into a Breeders’ Cup winner. Morning line favorite J.R.’S HOLIDAY shares the same sire and deserves respect, but is worth trying to beat on top at such short odds. His post draw combined with the lack of speed entered here may leave him with too much work to do late, and his last two races away from Gulfstream have been steps backward. Coming out of the Arlington Classic, both SWAGGER JACK and TEQUILA JOE figure to attract wise guy attention, but we don’t like the way the former held the lead in the stretch and then gave way considering he will have to cover more ground here, or how the latter couldn’t get to the wire from off the pace and now loses his rider; leaning elsewhere.

Picks:

1) Oscar Nominated 12-1

2) One Mean Man 5-1

3) Mongolian Holiday 30-1

4) J.R.’s Holiday 2-1

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