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The Arlington Million racecard is always one of the highlights of the summer for both bettors and racing fans. Since these races typically attract numerous high-class international raiders as well as some of the best US turf horses, we are offering our analysis in combination with that of the experts at the Timeform home office in England. Write-ups by Timeform’s Mark Milligan of all the international-based runners are included below. Without any further ado, here is our combined analysis of the All Stakes Pick Four (50 cent min./$200k guarantee), with TimeformUS selections at the end.
Only the most chauvinistic of our racing fans and bettors believe that North American grass racing is on a par with that of our European counterparts. Our horses have been bred primarily for dirt racing, and in our breeding program, strong emphasis is placed on speed and especially precocity. It is therefore no surprise that all four of trainer Wesley Ward’s wins in England have come with June two-year-olds.
However, our grass horses usually perform miserably when they ship to foreign countries. In the history of the Dubai World Cup, American-based turf horses are a combined 0-for-47 in the three major grass races, The Dubai Duty Free, The Dubai Sheema Classic, and the Al Quoz Sprint.
Moreover, not since the Charlie Whittingham-trained Golden Pheasant won the 1991 Japan Cup has one of our North American turf horses captured a major Group 1 win on turf in a foreign country. Golden Pheasant himself was also originally from Europe, but had spent almost two years in the US before his Japan Cup heroics. Indeed, a true US turfer hasn’t accomplished this feat since Fourstars Allstar captured the Irish 2000 Guineas in 1991.
At the marathon-like distance of one mile and five and a half furlongs, the American St. Leger is basically a race tailor-made for European shippers. There are two European shippers in this event: Dandino and Wigmore Hall. Here is analysis of these two horses from Timeform in England:
Dandino – His trainer, Marco Botti, won the inaugural running of this race last season with Jakkalberry. He brings over a similar type this year in Dandino, who was a really good 2nd at Royal Ascot last time. Looks to have a big chance.
Wigmore Hall – This classy horse is well known across the Atlantic, having competed in the Million previously, and is a 2-times winner of the G1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine. This is his first try beyond 12 furlongs.
The bottom line is this: The two European invaders tower over this weak field. They’ve run superior speed figures and this race suits them perfectly. The best chance of the Americans on form is Dark Cove, but he must give a seven pound weight break to this entire field, a significant weight concession at this distance.
The two best US-based horses in this race are clearly Jack Milton and Rydilluc. Jack Milton was an excellent third in the Virginia Derby last time out, in a race where he was defeated by only a neck and carried four pounds more than both the winner and second-place finisher. He’s earned back-to-back TimeformUS speed figures of 104, and he projects a good trip today.
Rydilluc, on the other hand, is the most talented American runner in the field, and might be more talented than the Euros as well. However, the ten furlong distance is a big concern, especially considering the way he quit through the stretch in the Virgina Derby in his most recent start. The female side of Rydilluc’s pedigree is very sprint oriented and he is running here only because the Hall Of Fame stakes, at the far more optimal distance of 8.5 furlongs, was rained off of the turf at Saratoga last week.
Here is analysis of these three horses from Timeform in England:
First Cornerstone – Won a G2 in Ireland last season, and finished 4th in the Racing Post Trophy, one of Europe’s top 2yo races. Has not been in that sort of form this year, finishing 5th in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas, and well down the field in the G1 Prix Du Jockey Club, in France. May appreciate the class relief.
Visiyani – Represents last year’s winning owner/trainer/jockey combo. This horse has not achieved as much as Bayrir had before winning last year, but his connections know what’s needed to target this race.
Yeager – Broke his maiden in June, then stepped up to win a handicap race impressively at Ascot last time. This US-bred colt seems to be improving quickly, and his trainer Jeremy Noseda has a knack of bringing the right horses over from the UK.
Of the North-American-based horses, morning line favorite Marketing Mix is an absolute standout. She’s run speed figures of 111, 111, and 115 in her last three starts. No other North American-based horse in this field has ever run a figure as high as 111 in her entire career. Marketing Mix was a close second in this race last year, and she was assigned a career-best speed figure of 116 for that effort. You know she loves the course and distance and she’s making her third start off the layoff after having defeated males last time out. In plain English, Marketing Mix is our best chance, and the Euros will need to show up in a big way in order to beat her.
Here is analysis of these three horses from Timeform in England:
Dank – Best effort came when winning a 9 furlong, G3 race at Newmarket in May. Was a little below her best, but still managed to win a G2 in Ireland last time, also over 9 furlongs. Usually stalks the pace.
Duntle – Put in her best effort of the season last time when 2nd behind Elusive Kate in a G1 race at Deauville, in France. Previously this year, had won at Royal Ascot (G2) and Leopardstown (G3). Has never raced further than a mile.
Gifted Girl – Won a Listed race over a mile at Pontefract last time, having previously run well to finish 2nd in a G3 race at Epsom. Has worked her way up from handicap company in the UK, and gets a further step up in class here.
Race 10: The Arlington Million
Defending champion Little Mike took advantage of an uncontested early lead and went wire to wire under a crafty ride by Ramon Dominguez in last year’s edition of the Million. With the presence of Nate’s Mineshaft in this race, it’s very unlikely Little Mike will have any choice to exploit such a tactical advantage this time. That’s not a deal-breaker though. Little Mike was able to use stalking tactics and score a very impressive victory over our superstar turfer Point of Entry and the very good St. Nicholas Abbey in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf. Little Mike was terrible in Dubai, but so is every US-based turf horse who goes over there. The only disconcerting thing about Little Mike is the fact that he had his optimal trip in the United Nations last time out, and couldn’t even save third against much softer competition than he faces today.
The best hope of the American-based horses might be Real Solution. This Pennsylvania-bred sired by Kitten’s Joy showed a very promising start to his career, in Italy, before fizzling out. He was transported to the United States and transferred into the barn of sharp American trainer Chad Brown, a trainer who has numerous Trainer Ratings of a perfect 100. Real Solution ran a solid TimeformUS speed figure of 110 in his most recent start, when third to Point of Entry. Sure, he got a huge nine pound weight concession from Point of Entry that day, but this lightly raced four-year-old has been freshened and pointed for this race by the ultra conservative Chad Brown.
Richard Mandella also has an interesting contender in Indy Point. This southern hemisphere star was a very impressive winner going a mile at Del Mar against weaker competition in the Wickerr. The manner in which he won that race suggests he will appreciate the added distance. Mandella certainly doesn’t have the flashy Trainer Ratings that Chad Brown does, but he’s a great old-school trainer, and it is ambitious of him to ship Indy Point to this race only 24 days after his stateside debut.
Here is analysis of these six horses from Timeform in England:
Grandeur – US bettors will be aware of this horse, due to his exploits in So Cal last year. Won a G2 at Hollywood Park, following on from a good 2nd in a G1 at the same venue. Seemed to have improved since then, when 2nd to Mukhadram in a G2 at York last time, and clearly getting better.
Guest Of Honour – A lightly-raced colt, still open to improvement. Finished 3rd in a G2 at Ascot last time (enduring a luckless trip), and would almost certainly have been closer had things gone better for him. He is untried at much beyond a mile, but travels strongly enough to suggest that 10 furlongs will be no problem.
Hunter’s Light – Started favourite for the Dubai World Cup, before finishing a disappointing 7th . Had previously shown high-class form in Dubai, on Tapeta. Finished 3rd in a G1 (on turf) in Germany last time, not finding a lot when asked by his jockey. Could go well for the addition of Lasix.
Mull Of Killough – A tough gelding who recorded his best effort this season when winning a G3 at Newmarket in April. Shipped to Singapore in May, running 5th in a G1, before coming back to the UK, finishing 2nd behind Aljamaheer in a G2 at Ascot last time.
Side Glance – A consistent performer, whose last win came in a G3 at Epsom in 2012. Finished 7th behind the top-class Al Kazeem at Royal Ascot last time. Probably stays 10 furlongs, though his best efforts have been at slightly shorter.
The Apache – Showed smart form in Dubai over the winter, winning a G2, and twice running 2nd to Sajjhaa in G1s. Returned from a 4-month layoff when finishing 4th behind Mukhadram (Grandeur 2nd ) last time at York. Should move forward off that run.
Timeform Overview: Grandeur is likely to be best supported of the foreign challengers, but Hunter’s Light is at least his equal on his day and looks the value call on Lasix for the first time.
And here are the TimeformUS must-uses in the All Stakes Pick Four:
American St. Leger: Dandino, Wigmore Hall
Secretariat: Jack Milton, First Cornerstone, and Visiyani
Beverly D: Marketing Mix, Dank, and Duntle
Arlington Million: Real Solution, Hunter’s Light, Guest of Honour