Friday, August 12, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Arlington Million (G1)

A Dozen Others Seek to keep THE PIZZA MAN From a Slice of History

The climax of the Illinois racing season comes on Saturday August 13 with the thirty-fourth renewal of the Arlington Million.  Like other races of name and fame, it needs only word or two to describe it: the Million.

The $1,000,000 Arlington Million became an instant classic when John Henry bested The Bart by an inch in the first running in 1981 before a packed grandstand and eventual statue above the Arlington paddock.  The Million's ten furlong turf trip makes it a convergent race for the mile category and the longer distance-inclined turf races.  In fact, the winner of this race gets a trip to the Breeders' Cup Turf at twelve furlongs.  Little Mike (2012) turned the double of winning the Breeders' Cup Turf after winning the Arlington Million.  Steinlen (1989) did a similar double - Mile and instead of Turf in the fall.

Comcast Sports Network (CSN) Chicago will televise the Arlington Million live as part of a one-hour live telecast airing from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm CT.  Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will be broadcasting live from Arlington on Million Day from 4:00pm-6:00pm CT.  This broadcast will include coverage of the Beverly D (GI), and the Arlington Million (GI) from Arlington, as well as the Fourstardave (GI) from Saratoga.  Coverage can be heard on Sirius 93, as well as streaming on the HRRN website.

All races are scheduled for Saturday August 13. Selections are "turf only". At publish time the rail will be set to sixty-two feet from zero.

Arlington International -- Race 9 -- G1 Arlington Million -- One and one-quarter miles on turf -- post time 5:09 pm CT

Don’t think the 8/1 morning line will hold but at two points down our top choice is still worth it.  The York Stakes over in Britain has been fodder for the Million in the past – think Afsare in the 2012 renewal when second to Little Mike -- and therefore MONDIALISTE takes a somewhat familiar path to get to the Million.  He’s shown he can ship into Woodbine and did so last year to take their G1-CDN Woodbine Mile, and that helps given Woodbine form and Arlington form have reciprocity.  Second to Tepin in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile shows class as well.  It’s worth noting that while he was in tougher spots against world class turfers (Tepin, Maurice, Time Test...) – this is a much easier spot.  The folks in the UK books think he’s as good as TRYSTER based on antepost punting, and if he’s a point or two above TRYSTER we’ll bite.  Daniel Tudhope rides for conditioner David O’Meara.  

TRYSTER makes sense, but MONDIALISTE’s proven past shipping are the trump cards.  TRYSTER is one to adjust your handicapping (advance weather calls for a 50% chance of thunderstorms on Friday), and he showed he won’t handle a course wetter than firm as well when fifth in the G1-UK Prince of Wales’s Stakes on soft going during Royal Ascot.  His better form is on all weather and good or good-to-form courses like he what he saw during the Dubai Carnival.  Should the course be good or firm TRYSTER will be a deserving favorite and logical choice.  Yet this is Chicagoland in the summertime and a pop-up thunderstorm that turns a firm course into something less firm than good is never to be ruled out.   

Three-year-olds have normally bypassed the Arlington Million in recent years as they have their own race to shoot for with Grade One status on the same day – the Secretariat two races beforehand.  It’s a surprise then that DEAUVILLE sees the starter.  DEAUVILLE won the G1 Belmont Derby against three-year-olds last time and now moves forward to elders.  He’ll be second off the ship, which can be a fruitful angle and he’s not going the twelve furlongs he went two back.  Three back he was on the podium going a mile and five-sixteenths.  He worked out an outside trip last time, and that will be asked of him once again.

A word on THE PIZZA MAN:  Don’t hate the player, hate the game.  You can forgive him for needing one off the winter vacation in the G2 Wise Dan, but while Kasaqui won the G3 Arlington Handicap last time – he turned his only out-of-the trifecta performance against elders on the Arlington greenery in the G3 Stars and Stripes last out.  Worse, the G2 Wise Dan has seen its players get beaten on the listed stakes mile category turf tour in Indiana and West Virginia.  One could say Albarado didn’t time the rally right, but if The Pizza Man were the same – he likely wins the Stars and Stripes in spite of that.  Too many people will be too willing to give him excuses given its his home course, yet he’s seven and if anyone else were in his boat, you’d say he lost a step too.  His following, his puns, and the third-off-the shelf angle ensure won’t be 10-1 as his line suggests (and he was 10/1 on the morning line last year before winning the 2015 Million at 6/1)  – think 6/1 or 7/1 at off time for the Illinois-bred defending champion and we’d rather have others at that price.


#12 TRYSTER (7/2)
#13 DEAUVILLE (6/1)

Longshot:  Not often you can get a double digit morning line quote on something with Jose Valdivia – the Arlington circuit’s leading rider - in the irons, but here you do.  DECORATED KNIGHT (10/1) has never been out of the superfecta lifetime, he’s shown he doesn’t need to rally from the parking lot based on his European form, and typically winning a G3 over across the pond makes you a G1 player in the states.  The “B” European angle works here, and given the “A” Euros are MONDIALISTE and TRYSTER – this one could be ignored in the wagering.  The Roger Charlton trainee won at ten furlongs three back and might be the right horse at the right time.  

$70 to win, $30 to place on #9 MONDIALISTE

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