McLean’s “Select Selection” For Arlington Park on “Million Day”

Day Results10-1-2-7
2018 Overall 1126419-413-506
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.60%

We had a Friday that you would prefer to forget. Not a good one, to say (or painfully write), in the least. Overall, we selected 10 races on Friday to handicap. We ended up with one winner. We did hit the board well, but that really didn’t help the financial planning on the day much.

We will endeavor to erase that one from the memory bank and zone in today at Arlington Park for “Million Day.” What a race card that offers great racing and some true value plays. Here is our look at the top races today:

Arlington Park:

2nd: 3-7-1-8-2-9…We will focus on the top two numbers in this group, led by W W Springtime (3). This one is trained by Scott Becker, who hits with .21% when running in the MSW event with a first time starter. That’s the case here, and the dam of this one has one winner from three starters so far, as well. The rider and the trainer have teamed up for a 2-1-1 record over the last 6 starts and this one has even training super. My pick. Hide the Demon (7) is a first timer for a barn that hits with .20% of these kind. The mom of this one has a winner from just one starter to date, and a really nice work from the gate here on Aug. 5 should set this one up nicely for the first pop. Like the 5-1 ML odds here, too. Drilliant (1) is 8-1 in the ML and may offer some value to the exotics here. The rail is winning nicely this meet and the dam has three winners from three starters. This trainer does rally well over the all-weather surface (.20%) and this one looks to be training OK for the inaugural run. Can’t totally dismiss. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 1-8-7-3-4-2-6…OK, I love the top 2 numbers and I will key on those in this spot. The horse that I actually have handicapped in the second spot, is the horse that I prefer the best. How does that happen, you ask? Well, my numbers are my numbers. And, you can have a system unless you are systematic, is what my dad used to say. So, the top number goes to Hero of the Hour (1), who is coming off a nice, closing second when getting the blinkers for the first time from my good friend Louie Roussel. Any improvement off that race and this son of City Zip should be a tough out in this 1-mile grass event. Rail is winning at a 20% clip and this one had a super nice work here on Aug. 6. The numbers just don’t lie, is another thing my dad used to say, as well. But…There’s always a but, right? I really like Duchossois (8) in this spot. How can you not? Named after the man who made the Arlington Million and this racetrack. Named after the man who has guided Arlington Park from dark to night. Named after “The Man.” This 3YO son of Animal Kingdom will be making his career debut, and if morning works are any indication, he sure looks the part and this sure does look like the spot. On Million Day. Debut. Love the grass breeding here and Midwest Thoroughbreds paid $350,000 at Keeneland September for this one. Trainer is 2-1-0 in the last 5 starts and this one comes from a mare who has one turf winner and 6 wins from the first 9 starter altogether. One SW in that group so far. This could be another? I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 1-8 solidly in the exacta. I key the 8 over/under all the numbers in two more exactas.

4th: 1-3-5-8-7-4…Wide open event here for me. I will go with the rail again and another from the barn of “King Louie.” Chicago Blues (1) has hit the board in 11 of 19 starts in his career and has never missed the top 3 in 8 grass races. Has never been worse than second at this distance, and has never missed the top 3 in 6 grass races over this course. Gets the meet’s run-away winner for top rider. Adds up doesn’t hit. My pick. Belfast Cowboy (3) is an Irish-bred gelding who will be making just the fourth career start for a barn that is 0-for-8 in first timers on the grass. But this barn does score with .31% of those routing for the first time. This one is both of those things. Breeding suggests he should prefer this surface switch and has run well in the three previous starts. Southsider (5) has put up two good ones in a row on this grass course, but will switch from a 5-furlong sprint to a mile for this one. And, he will be facing winners for the first time today after breaking the maiden last time out. The dam of this one was Stakes Placed and has 4 turf winners who have accounted for 8 wins to date. Breeding is there and this one looks very sharp. Distance? Don’t know. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 6-11-10-8-1-4-2…I will focus on the top 2 numbers in this group, led by Crafty’s Dream (6), a 2YO Bodemeister filly trained by a guy winning .24% of his mounts here this meet. This one nearly won on debut July 13. Ran super that day, closing from off the pace to miss by a neck. The show horse that day has already come back to win, and this one hit the gate at the start. Bet well in the debut. My solid choice here. Kajawa (11) is another who has run once, and ran second. This one hit the gate leaving, as well, and still managed to move up and stalk all the way around the 51/2 furlongs. Switches to a top rider in E.T. Baird, who returned to race riding this meet after a long hiatus. he has a 5-3-1 record in just 18 mounts so far this meet. Solid. Can’t totally dismiss here, either. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-11 solidly in the exacta. I may key the 6-11 over the others with more on the 10-8-1 for a little cover.

We will skip the 6th and 7th, and gear up for the major Stakes events forthcoming.

8th: 7-8-5-1-4-2…Bruce D. Memorial Stakes…Like before, I get a number on top for the #7 in this spot, but I really prefer my second selection. Here’s why. The Tabulator (7) is no doubt the class of this Stakes event over the all-weather surface based on his past performances. To date he has won four of seven lifetime starts and has amassed over $235,000 in earnings. He is fast. Very fast. And, he is trained by the top trainer in these parts, and will be ridden by the top rider in these parts. He has won a G3 Stakes event, to boot, in the G3 Iroquois last time out. So…Hard to argue right? Well….lIn three starts this year, admittedly against some tough competition, he has only one win. And, he has faltered in each of the last two, after setting sail and making torrid fractions on the front end. He gets back to where it all began last year as a 2YO, and he won here by 9 lengths that day, going just 41/4 furlongs. But I see him as a bit vulnerable today. So…I go to Nottoway (8) — who is 10-1 ML odds. This son of Twirling Candy comes into this one off a convincing 2-length victory in allowance company here on July 12. That was his first try ever over the all-weather surface. And, he was impressive. If you go back, he ran up against a very good one in Wyatts Town twice. he beat him back in April down at Oaklawn Park to break the maiden. Then he came back and nipped a really good one in Bourbon Resolution at Churchill Downs in May. Don’t know what happened two back. Don’t like that race at all, but his last race was nice. And, he is working lights out at Keeneland. My Upset Special. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 7-8 solidly in one exacta. I key the 7-8 over the rest in a smaller, saver type bet.

9th: 9-13-2-12-1-8-7-10-11-4-6-3…G1 Secretariat Stakes…Analyze It (9) certainly looked like a horse that couldn’t be beaten early in his career. And, for the first three starts, he couldn’t. He won those three by a total of nearly 16 lengths — and two of them were in G3 Stakes events. We had a super horse on our hands. Until he met Catholic Boy. In the last two races, this one looked to have Catholic Boy beaten. Both times. But Catholic Boy somehow, some way, rallied back to nip this one by a neck and a head. The last one coming in the G1 Belmont Derby on July 7. Still, all in all, this son of Point of Entry (who happens to be by the great Dynaformer) has been spectacular. Goes for the best grass trainer in NA, in Chad Brown. And, training well, too. Certainly the top choice in this fantastic race. Hunting Horn (13) ran third behind Catholic Boy and our top choice in the Belmont Derby — in his first try at NA racing. That was over a firm track that day, and today he is likely to get a softer, more tender surface. This one certainly has more experience in this type of sod and surface, and if the top pick doesn’t take to the giving ground, this one could turn the tables. That was a super race for this one last time out. Can’t dismiss here. My long shot special in this one is Platinum Warrior (2). My good friend Scott Shapiro (over at TwinSpires.com) , in fact, puts this one on top. Like the race two back in a Group 3 event at The Curragh in Ireland. The run in the G1 Irish Derby wasn’t much, though. Still, he will get a type of ground that he is certainly used to and will get Lasix for the first time. I used in the mix. I bet the 9-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the 12-1-8-7-10, as well.

10th: 9-3-1-7-4-8-3-5…G1 Beverly D Stakes…Athena (9) was my top pick in the G1 Belmont Oaks last time out on July 7. She won that day powering away by 21/2 lengths over a nice field. Today, I actually like her more. This type of grass should be right up her ally, and she should love these turns and stretch, even a bit more. Sweeping is better. My Best Bet of the Day if you can get anything close to the 3-1 ML odds. Love her. Sistercharlie (3) is ultra consistent and mega good, ever since she arrived from France — were she had won three in a row before making the overseas trip to join up with Chad Brown. She is a deep closer, and should be a force to reckon with in the late going, as well. The ML price is just a little short for me, considering the quality in this field. Daddy Lil Darling (1) won easily over this grass course on July 7 in the G3 Modesty Handicap. Carried 124 pounds in that one, and actually will get into this one a pound lighter. This daughter of Scat Daddy can stalk a little closer to the pace, and may get the jump on the others in the turn for home. If she breaks clear and can set sail, she may be tough to run down late. And, love the 8-1 ML odds. Spice it up a bit. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed in two more. The 9 is a key for me in the horizontals, too. May use some others as cover, but the 9 is the key.

11th: 5-3-11-10-9-8-4-2…G1 Arlington Million…The “Big Race” has had it’s share of upset winners in the past. Big numbers. Big prices. And, nice payoffs. I am going with another one today in Century Dream (5) — who is 12-1 in the ML odds. My great friend Ed De Rosa, the Marketing Director over at Brisnet.com turned me on to this 4YO colt of Irish breeding decent. And, the more I looked, the more I liked too. The last four races have been outstanding. Won two of them and then was beaten less than a length in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot. Will be stretched out to a distance that he may not prefer, but he does have a win going this far. Has shown a likeness for the softer ground, too. And, gets a world class rider. I’m with my “Main Man Ed”here. Almanaar (3) has been away from the races since June 8 and that’s his only start this year. Won that one, rallying from off the pace, but will be facing much, much, much tougher in this spot today. Still, all in all, he is a Chad Brown pupil, and looks to be training super for this one. Fit enough? I give the benefit of the doubt to America’s best grass trainer. Oscar Performance (11) won the G1 Secretariat here last year for trainer Brian Lynch. And, he says that the 4YO son of Kitten’s Joy is doing better than ever right now. He is a stalker/speed type and there’s not an abundance of that in this endurance test. Will need to improve to best these, though, in what may be one of the best Million fields in recent years. Robert Bruce (10) may be the best of the Brown horses. He is a bay, yes, but trained by Brown. He ran 6th in the G1 Manhattan in the last out, but was beaten only a length and had all kinds of traffic issues in that spot. Gets a new rider today, and he is the first Chilean-bred to ever make this truly International Race. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the numbers listed. I take a smaller 5-3-11 box as a saver of sorts.

12th: 13-1-6-4-2-10-12-11-7-8…G3 Pucker Up Stakes…This is another key race for me, and, perhaps, a single. I love Beyond Blame (13) in this spot. The only thing that gives me pause is the “spot” that she is in — the #13 hole. Will it be unlucky? Will she be able to overcome that? It is a 11/8-mile event, after all, and she does have the ability to stalk, and save ground. Lots will depend on the spot that Florent Geroux can find for her, but she has the talent. Easy winner of the G3 Regret in her last race and the only time the was off the board was in the G3 Edgewood at Churchill Downs on KY Oaks Day when she had to check dramatically going into the first turn. Could have been several key issues in that race. I really think she stands above these, if she gets a clear run. Dark Artist (1) has won three in a row for trainer Jane Cibelli, and figures to be close or near the lead. Has been v3ry good since losing the blinkers three back and getting on the sod. Take note. A.A. Azula’s Arch (6) has been really good since getting Lasix for the first time two starts back. Lost to Get Stormy in the last out, and that is a very good one. Like the 6-1 odds and the local jock. I bet the 13 to win/place/show and then key the 13 over/under the 1-6-4-2-10. I key the 13 over (only) the 12-11-7-8.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

I got close to him and he was coming out. So, I made my horse switch leads and when he switched, I leaned on him a little bit, and then he pushed me out and my horse went right back on him. That’s what happened. I got him easy, anyway. He was holding his ground out and I was holding him back in. He was the horse to beat and I wasn’t going to give him a chance.”

John Velazquez, Who rode the winner Vino Rosso in the Wood Memorial, and had to withstand an inquiry and rider’s objection
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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