Updated Stats on McLean’s Selections / Arlington Park About Ready to Kick Start “Million Week”

Day Results3-1-1-3
2018 Overall 1107411-406-490
Win % of Top Pick37.10%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

We only handicapped three races from Saratoga on Monday. Had a low-priced winner. But today, we will begin digging into all the numbers, past performances, and projections for this week’s Arlington Million and all the other major Stakes events that will go along with the Chicago track’s most important weekend of racing, and one of the game’s most historic events.

As in ever.

How do you not go back in time and watch the fabulous John Henry — once, twice, three times given away as a rogue — defeat the determined The Bart in a last ditch, lunging, stride? One of the most remarkable wins in the history of horse racing, and one of the races that prompted more tracks to start building more turf courses, and start promoting more turf races in this country.

The year was 1981. The legendary rider William “Bill” Shoemaker was in the saddle. And, the duo became the first to ever win a $1 million Thoroughbred race when they won the very first Arlington Million.

How do you not call up the video of 1984 when the great John Henry — long since past his prime, but still very much a great racehorse — was paired with the heady rider Chris McCarron and won the Million for a second time. The only horse to ever win it twice. The winner’s circle picture of trainer Ron McAnally holding the reins and the horse peering beautifully over that white shadow roll. Amazing.

How do you not remember the race in 1985 when Arlington Park was rendered into ruins by a devastating fire just 25 days before that burned the grandstand into dust and memories. In the shadow of that tragedy, and with a hint of smoke still filling the air, Teleprompter captured the Million. A testament to the stamina of the horse, and the heart of a racetrack hellbent on keeping tradition alive.

How do you forget the great Manila winning in 1987, or the brilliant flash of grey in 1988 when Mill Native overcame long odds and an even longer run from the back to win? How do you not cling to the memory of 2000 when, after a two-year hiatus, the Million was restored on the racing calendar and was won by Chester House and one of the greatest grass trainers of all time in Bobby Frankel.

How do you not cling to the memory of such troupers as The Tin Man, who won in 2006, and The Pizza Man, who captured the 2015 version. Both men.

So, this week, we get to remember and we get to forecast — all at the same time. And, without a single doubt, we get the opportunity to create new memories that will stand next to the others like statutes in your own, personal, Hall of Fame.

Let the handicapping begin.

Let the opinions roll.

And, let’s allow the horses to decide.

Who is the best.


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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean