Friday, May 27, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Arlington Classic (G3)

Can Surgical Strike Make the Right Move in the Arlington Classic?


The Arlington Classic, set for Saturday May 28, serves as a feeder race to the American Derby in mid-July, a three-year-old race on grass that serves as one of the pieces of the stakes-quartet known as Arlington Million Preview Day. And that Preview day serves as a steppingstone to the Arlington International Festival of Racing, with the Grade Three American St. Leger and three Grade One races--the Secretariat Stakes (to which the American Derby feeds into), the Beverly D., and the Arlington Million. Think of the Arlington Classic as a feeder to the feeder.

In its prior life on dirt, the race attracted some of the best three year olds in the country. The winners' list is peppered with Hall of Famers like Nashua, Native Dancer, Dr. Fager, Ack Ack, and Alydar. On turf it’s given us winners like eventual G1 winners Hawk Attack and Illinois-bred Giant Oak.  Scrapped last year when Arlington ran a skeletal stakes schedule, the race returns this year.  It carries Grade Three status and $100,000 of purse funds.

Arlington International – Race 7 – G3 Arlington Classic – One and one-sixteenth miles on Turf– post time 4:21 pm CT

Selections are for “Turf only”. At publish time the rail is set to Lane 2, 23 feet from zero. Morning line odds were not available at original publish time.

Locally owned CANDY MY BOY, locally stabled COCKED AND LOADED, and UNCLE JERRY should provide SURGICAL STRIKE the early targets needed. 

SURGICAL STRIKE enters off a third earlier this month in the G2 American Turf on Kentucky Derby Day.  Those who follow the Kentucky Derby trail will recall him from his third in the G3 Spiral.  The blinkers go on for SURGICAL STRIKE (8% wins but 47% in the money from 38 starts).  SURGICAL STRIKE looked to go off form in Florida but got back on the beam in Turfway’s Spiral feeders.  

As a summertime pop-up thunderstorm pattern has emerged in the Chicagoland area, it’s worth noting he showed some punch last fall on yielding ground in the G3 Bourbon.  But he’s the choice – firm or soft. While SURGICAL STRIKE is still eligible for an N2X allowance (as is most of the field and the race has that vibe), he’s not on the Derby Trail anymore and not facing anyone from the top two from the traditionally salty American Turf.  James Graham climbs aboard the Ben Colebrook trainee.  

Post twelve will keep the price honest on TEQUILA JOE.  TEQUILA JOE cleared his first level allowance condition last out at Keeneland.  The humans are why TEQUILA JOE gets a hard look despite a disadvantageous draw in the twelve spot: Rider Jose Valdivia is riding very strongly at the meet, trainer Mike Stidham (32% wins in the Arlington meet) has won this race three times before.  Post twelve induces the idea he could get stuck wide, and he’s done better with inside draws.  

Trainer Eoin Harty has two in here – UNCLE JERRY and FELT IN POCKET. FELT IN POCKET moves out of gender-restricted races as she (a filly taking on the boys) gets a pacemaker in her stablemate.  It helps SURGICAL STRIKE too, but FELT IN POCKET did have a nice rally two back at Tampa and won’t be chasing Catch A Glimpse (set to take on the boys herself in the June 4 G3 Penn Mile). 


Longshot:#2 ITSNOTEZBEINBREEZY may be a cheeky name, but the horse that could be the longest price on the board with Constantino Roman named to ride is not a total throw-out.Its career start two for this Gerald Aschinger trained-and-owned homebred, and start one to start two often is fertile ground for career progressions. He wasn’t beaten by a wide margin at Tampa, less than a half a length.And he was wide early on Tampa’s course. Perhaps he’s a horse who gets a clean trip from a cozy inside spot, ITSNOTEZBEINBREEZY does have solid second time turf and second time career starts, too. He may be making the jump from a Tampa Bay maiden special weight to an Arlington G3, but this Arlington Classic gets fuzzy beyond the morning line favorite and the draw-impaired one in post twelve.Aschinger has pulled bombs before (think Dramedy in the 2015 G2 Elkhorn),and he might have one up his sleeve here.

Handigambling $100): 
$8 Trifecta 4, 12/4, 12/All ($80) 
$5 Win and $5 Place, #12 ($10) 
$10 Win, #4 ($10)

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