The best day of turf racing in North America takes place this Saturday at Arlington Park in Illinois. Scheduled are seven stakes races, six of which are on turf including three grade 1's: The Secretariat, The Beverly D, and the feature, the 32 running of the Arlington Millions. The first stakes race is the Hatoof Stakes which goes off at 3:39 EST. The big three grade 1’s take place between 5:15 EST and 6:36 EST.
There is a variety of multi race betting options to navigate you through the races. Every race offers a $2 daily double, and $1 pick 3, as is the standard now with most tracks . There is also a $1 pick 6 that starts with the 6th race (The Straight Line Stakes) and goes through to the 11th race (The Hatoof Stakes). However if you get knocked out you still have two .50 pick 4’s to work with starting in the next race, the American St. Leger Stakes. If your not an early riser but still want to get into multi race betting action, there is a .50 pick five that starts with the eighth race (The Secretariat), and goes through to the last race, which is a maiden claiming race.
Here is an early look at some of the main players and value spot plays for the big three races
Adelaide (8-5) – It is often an overused comment when referring to a horse who just got beat in their last race to say they were ‘much the best’ but in this case it holds true. In the inaugural running of the Belmont Derby, Adelaide was certainly game in defeat. In the middle stages of the race he got caught up with a trio of horses who were chasing the lead horse; 19-1 long shot, Pornichet. After that early effort, his closing kick was severely compromised, yet even when the winner, Mr. Speaker snuck up on the hedge to take the lead, Adelaide was still unwilling to surrender the lead. If he sits a good relaxed trip this time, he should be very tough to beat.
Tourist (5-2) – Bill Mott is as keen a horsemen out there and when he knows a horse is going well, he usually puts them in the right place. Tourist is a perfect 3 for 3 since Mott put his colt out of Tiz Now on the lawn back in February at Gulfstream Park. That three race streak includes a strong wire to wire job in the Sir Cat Stakes at Saratoga. Although he is going good now, Tourist will need his price to float up from the very respectful 5-2 morning line in order to constitute a good bet.
Sheldon (15-1) – If there is a horse coming into Saturdays Secretariat that looks capable of doing some damage at a nice price, it may be the 5 horse, Sheldon. After a couple of lackluster performances at Gulfstream Park over the winter, Sheldon showed signs of life when stretching out to 1 mile and 1/4 . In his first race at that distance he showed that he did his best running late. In his next race, again at Belmont, he broke his maiden at 5-1. Then in the Belmont Derby at 35-1, he ran a deceptively good race. In that race he steadied multiple times down the stretch, however he still persisted to close into a fifth place finish. Another positive sign is that he drew top jockey Javier Castellano for the mount, hopefully that will not drive down his price. If Sheldon is anywhere near 15-1 by post time then he is going to be my main play in this race.
Somali Lemonade (6-1) – If this four year old continues with the great season she is having so far, she may be looking at the Eclipse Award for turf fillies and mares. After trainer Micheal Matz took blinkers off of her, she has impressed, winning the Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico on Preakness day, and most recently upsetting the field in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga at odds of 11-1. Its tough to fault her for anything she's done this year, and she should still offer good odds, especially after drawing the 11 post.
Stephanie’s Kitten (7-2) – In order for Somali Lemonade to win this, or anyone for that matter, they will have to hold off Stephanie’s Kitten. The Kitten Joy filly, out of the Ramsey Stable was coming like a shot in the Diana Stakes but was left with too much to do. Fortunately for her she will get another sixteenth of a mile to get it done.
Alterite (4-1) – Bronze metal finisher in the Breeders Cup, Alterite was sent to the barn for the winter. Her last race was her first attempt at shaking the cobwebs off from that layoff. So if your looking to justify a case for her bad performance in the Diana Stakes last out look no further than her sea legs. Also the French bred was inexplicably up close to the pace which helped in taking away her closing kick. I'm going to have faith in Chad Brown's training ability and jockey Javier Castellano to get the job done in this one.
Magician (7-5) – Winning the 2013 Breeders Cup Turf Classic in impressive fashion. The 4 year old son of the great sire Galileo will be coming to post as a heavy favorite on Saturday. Although this year he has only won a Group 3 over in Europe, the level of competition Magician has been up against is much greater than what he will face on Saturday. Most likely will be too chalky to bet in anything other than the pick 4's and 5's, but is a must if you want to go to the windows when all is said and done.
Real Solution (5-2) - This years Arlington Million drew and uncharacteristically small field of only seven horses. Last years winner Real Solution had to overcome a 13 horse field and an inquiry before he was put up as the winner. Since then he has run slightly under par of that level. That is until his last race in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap where he was somewhat overlooked in a very tough competitive field of 10 horses. On that day Real Solution took down his second grade 1 race in impressive fashion. Saturday he will have to beat a very tough competitor in Magician to defend that title.
Up With the Birds (6-1) – The gritty Canadian bred is quietly carving out an impressive resume. So far in 12 lifetime races he has won 7 races and just over $1.25 million. Last year as a three year old, this win machine looked very strong in beating a tough three-year-old class in the G1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park. This year he was even more impressive in winning the G2 Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine, in that race he had to literally bull his way through another horse in order to get clear running room, then after getting through, he won easily going away in a hand ride. I have a feeling this Stormy Atlantic colt will get over looked at the windows, and will go off at a very square price of 6-1 or higher.