McLean’s Selections for Arlington Park on Arlington Million Day

Editor’s Note: Well, we teamed up for a pretty good day on Friday. Hope you were betting along at the racetrack, simulcast parlor of your choice, or at home. It was a profitable day, to be sure.

I came out of the self-imposed betting hiatus and handicapped the full race cards at both Arlington Park and Ellis Park for TGIF. And, in 8 races in Chicago, we compiled a 3-3-5 record. At Henderson, KY, we handicapped 9 races and pitched a 3-5-2 mark. For the 17 races, we were 6-8-7.

Even better, our top selection hit the board at Arlington Park in 5 of the 8 races. At Ellis Park, our top pick hit the board on 7 of 9. That is 12 of the 17.

Our exacta payoffs were rather handsome for a very nice card at Ellis Park, in particular.

Our win percentage for the day was 35.3%.

Our “Hit the Board” percentage for the day was 70.6%.

At the same time, our great friend and friendly handicapper Ryan Dickey focused on the grand racing renewal happening in Virginia at Colonial Downs. In 9 races there, Ryan went 3-4-2. His win percentage was 33.33%. His top pick hit the “Board” on 4 of the 9 races.

Not a bad day for the team.

Anybody get in touch with our buddy, little Jimmy F. Day, our vulgar attorney who loves to live hating on us?Let him know that we had a good day? Here’s his email, in case you have the time or the inkling:

Yet, we are moving on. It’s Arlington Million Day — one of the greatest racing days in all of the world and one of the finest turf courses in all of racing.

Let’s go racing.

Arlington Park:

Race 1: 3-1/4-2-7/6…The first race of the day, carded at 5.5-furlongs on the all-weather surface, is for the 2YO fillies. I go with Josephine Baker (3), who will be making her second start for Arlington Park’s leading trainer Larry Rivelli. The barn is hitting at .34% for the meet, and this filly will be treated with Lasix for the first time today. Barn scores with .32% with those getting the anti-bleeder medication for the first time. IN her first start on July 13 here, it appeared she was well on her way to a win. But it appeared, on paper, that she may have bled late. She dropped from 1st to a distant 4th quickly and rapidly. Now, she is back and training nicely for the return today. Barn hits with .32% of beaten favs, too. Won’t get good odds, but probably a winner. I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-1 in the exacta. I will key the 3 over (only) all the numbers listed.

Race 2: 9-8/2-4/6-1-3…This one is a 5.5-furlong test over the all-weather for the 2YO colts. Unlike the first race, this bad boy is wide, wide, wide open — with many contenders for the title. I will give the edge to Fast Dreamer (9), who will be making the first start of his career. Barn only hits with .07% with debut runners, but this one is training very well and gets one of the hottest riders around. Jockey has teamed up with this barn to win all four of their mounts together in the last 2 weeks. Wow. Could add a 5th. Nicely Nicely (8) is another first timer, and has trained well for the debut run today. Trainer has won .21% of MSW races this year, and that is in 104 starts. I bet the 9 across the board and then box the 9-8 in one exacta. I will key the 9 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in a smaller version. 

Race 3: 2/7/1-4-8/3-6…Now, we get down to serious business and the grass racing festival that we all came to see, view, handicap and wager. My first “Key Play of the Day” comes here with Our Bay B Ruth (2). This 3YO daughter of Candy Ride nearly won last time out at Churchill Downs when racing as the PT favorite. Winner that day has already come back to win. In 5 lifetime starts, she has 3 seconds and a win. Graduation Day. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box the 2-7 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

Race 4: 6-3-4/1/2-7-8…This 1-mile event is a bit more wide open, as well. I will spread out a bit here in the horizontal plays (Pick 3s, 4s), and trend toward a box in the exactas. I give a slight edge to My Bariley (6) in the straight wagers. This one drops down out of 3 straight Stakes events — including the G3 Arlington Handicap last time out — to get a huge class relief spot today. It will be the 3rd start off a layoff, too, and the barn hits with .15% of those. Like the tune-up work here on Aug. 3. My pick. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 1, as well.

Race 5: 2/4-1-6/7/8-5…This is a MSW event going a flat mile over the sod for the 2YO fillies. I will go with my second “Key Play of the Day” here. I love Aunt Dorothy (2) in this spot, and love the 9-2 ML odds, as well. This gal has raced only once so far, but the daughter of Uncle Mo has the pedigree, the recent works and the race experience to truly dominate this crowd today. Jockey has won with .26% of his rides (23) for this barn in the last 60 days. Over the last 14 days, the trainer and rider have teamed up to go 2-4-2 in the last 8 mounts. Dam was a Stakes winner and has 2 winners from 3 starters and 1 turf winner. All adds up for me. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

Race 6: 2-10-1/6/8-9-7-3…Another spread race for me. This is the 1-mile turf MSW version for the 2YO colts. I give the slight nod to Pixelate (2). This son of City Zip ran second on debut here on July 21 for trainer Michael Stidham. But he was beaten by 14 lengths by a run-away winner. Has returned from that outing to work extremely well, and I truly believe that he has a huge chance to improve with the move from the all-weather surface to the sod today. Dam of this one has a winner from 2 starters and is by the Irish-bred Street Cry. I look for much more today, as the barn hits with .25% with first-time routers, and with .21% with horses making the second career start. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 6, in much smaller version.

Race 7: 10/1-9-8/3-5…My next version of “Key Play of the Day,” returns right here with trainer Larry Rivelli’s Hurricane Highway (10). Jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. returns from Colonial Downs today to reunite with his top training buddy (they have teamed up to win .26% of the last 70 races together). Barn hits with .25% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Has a win and 2 thirds in 3 starts — and broke the maiden here at first ask by 9 lengths. Talent there, and I love the breeding on this one. Bernstein mare was a Stakes winner and has thrown 2 turf winners from 6 starters. My solid pick. I bet the 10 to win/place and then key the 10 over/under the numbers listed.

Race 8: 9-10-7/11-3-4/5-6-8…Bruce D. Memorial Stakes…Back to spreading out here. Wide, wide, wide open for me. I will go outside in this group for my Upset Special of the Day — Manny Was (9). Like the fact that this 3YO son of Will Take Charge has been facing much, much tougher throughout much of the year. Coming out of 3 straight Graded Stakes events. Like the fact that he got a nice break after running 12th to the grand Mr. Money (hottest horse in the U.S.) in the G3 Pat Day Mile on KY Derby Day. Like the fact that this one has returned to training very well — with the latest work on Aug. 3. And, love the fact that he has a win over this track as a 2YO last year, making him 1-for-1 on the all-weather. Gets in at 10-1 ML odds. I’ll take it in this field of major unknowns. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed in a much smaller duo.

Race 9: 7-6/1-5-8…G1 Beverly D Stakes…Named after the 1st Lady for Arlington Park, this is one of the best grass races in the world for the fillies and mares. And, this year’s version does NOT disappoint. Shipping in from NY is the Champ, Sistercharlie (7), for trainer Chad Brown. What is a G1 Stakes on the grass without a few from Chad Brown, right? This 5YO Irish-bred is nothing short of remarkable. In 12 lifetime starts, she has 8 wins and 3 seconds. Comes in off 4 wins in a row — all G1s. And, in her 2019 debut, she won the G1 Diana at Saratoga over the great Rushing Fall. Easily. Wow time. Amazing. The only chance to beat her, IMO, is if Magic Wand (6) is pointed to this race rather than facing the boys in the G1 Arlington Million. If she goes here for trainer Aidan O’Brien, then we have a horse race fans. Game on. Still, I go with Sistercharlie. Win only. Box the 7-6. Key the 7 over the rest.

Race 10: 6-9-3/7/5-4-8/1-2…G1 Secretariat Stakes…A more wide open field here for this G1 event, which will be contested at the challenging distance of 1 mile. I will go with another Chad Brown shipper in Fog of War (6). Nearly won the Manila Stakes at Belmont Park on July 4, when equipped with the blinkers for the first time. Those shades may have prevented him from seeing Win Win Win closing fast in the final stages. Still, Win Win Win is an impressive 3YO in his own right, and I horse I absolutely loved going into this year’s KY Derby. Like the recent work tab for Fog of War, and this will be the third start off a layoff. Barn hits with .22% of those. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box there top 3 numbers  in the exacta. I will key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

Race 11: 3/6-1/5-9-10…G1 Arlington Million…I don’t think this event will be as easy as many believe for the great Bricks and Mortar (3). That being written, I don’t think anyone in this field can beat him, either. So? What to do? I love Bricks and Mortar. I hope to heck he wins Horse of the Year. Love to see it for the industry and the credit to a grass runner. And, he has the resume to dominate. In 11 career starts, he has 9 wins and 2 thirds. Both 3rds came at Saratoga in 2017. Since then? All wins. This year, 4-for-4 in 3 G1s and 1 G2. Magnificent. But…Always a but, right? He is a closer. He will need some racing luck and room. And, he will need a perfect ride from a near-perfect rider. Also, there’s not a ton of speed in here, either. Could make the late run more difficult. So? I spread out a bit in the horizontals to cover, but I land a nice win bet on Bricks and Mortar if he stays even odds or better. And, I root like hell. Love this horse. Magnificent.

Race 12: 11-8-10/9/12-6-2…G3 Pucker Up…This grand race day will conclude with the 11/8-mile test for the 3YO fillies. What a nice race, too. I spread out a bit in this spot, too. But I have to use my 3rd Chad Brown trainee in a row — Cafe Americano (11). This closer may be a bit compromised with the far outside post. Not the best of spots, for sure. But she has the ability to locate a good spot and fire. I throw out the G1 Belmont Oaks. Got carried out ridiculously wide in that one and was no match for the terrific Concrete Rose. Lighter group today, and I have to think she gets a better trip, too. I also must mention my “Upset Special of the Day II” in here, too. I do like Princersa Carolina (8), who is 8-1 in the ML and likely to drift up the odds board. Ran a nice one in the Hatoof Stakes here on July 13. Just missed at the wire in that one. Ran a nice 3rd to The Mackem Bullet in the G2 Appalachian Stakes at KEE in April. Was really coming in the 2nd in the G3 Herecomesthebride Stakes in March. And, was beaten only 4 by Concrete Rose in the G2 Jesamine last Fall. Worth a shot, I think. I bet the 11-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the 11-8 over/under the 10-9-12-6 in two smaller versions.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • 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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