The Dale Romans trained Little Mike is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the Arlington Million (G1) on Saturday as he takes on a dozen foes including six overseas invaders.
The Arlington Million is the feature race on the International Festival of Racing card that features seven stakes and three Grade 1 races.
Little Mike was able to take the field gate to wire last year, and after failing to fire in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park in his next start, he bounced back to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
The gelding is winless in three starts this year, running a disappointing eighth in the Al Maktoum Challenge (G1) over the Tapeta surface at Meydan, and then fading to finish 11th in the Dubai Duty Free (G1).
He returned to the U.S. and ran fourth in the United Nations (G1) in his last outing at Monmouth Park, setting the early fractions and weakening to finish 3 ¼ lengths behind the winner Big Blue Kitten, who is one of the major players in today’s $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) at Saratoga.
There are six Euro invaders this year, and while they are not as classy as we have seen in past years, several figure to be major contenders including Grandeur, who is the 7-2 morning line favorite for trainer Jeremy Noseda.
The gelding made three starts in Southern California last year, winning the Twilight Derby (G2) and Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) and running a good second in the Hollywood Derby (G2).
The gelding was a solid second in the York Stakes (G2) last out, but drew a tough post and his price may end up on the light side.
The Grade 1 action starts with the $500,000 Secretariat, which drew a wide open field of 13 three-year-olds who will go 1 1/.4 miles on the turf. The Todd Pletcher trained Jack Milton is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt was third in the Virginia Derby (G2) last out over turf labeled as good at Colonial Downs.
The race drew three runners from overseas including First Cornerstone, who showed plenty of promise as a juvenile but was a distant 15th last out in the French Derby (G1) at Chantilly.
The $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies and mares drew nine, with Marketing Mix the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Tom Proctor trainee won the Sunset Handicap (G3) against the boys last out and won the Gamely (G1) two back.
She takes on a trio of runners coming from across the pond including Duntle, who was second in the Prix Rothchild (G1) at Deauville in France in her last outing and has won five of nine starts and was disqualified from one other win.
Saturday’s Best Plays Report will include all of the graded stakes action from Arlington Park and Saratoga.
Let’s head out to Arlington Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Arlington Park Race 10 The Arlington Million G1 (5:44 CT)
1 Real Solution 10-1
13 Grandeur 7-2
10 The Apache 6-1
7 Indy Point 9-2
Analysis: Real Solution is coming off a good effort in the Manhattan ‘Cap (G1) at Belmont Park over yielding footing which was his second start since coming state side and landing with the Chad Brown barn. The colt stalked the early pace, came with a four wide rally and came up just 1 3/4 lengths short of getting to Point of Entry and beaten just a neck by Optimizer, who came back to run fifth in the Man o’ war (G1) and goes in today’s Sword Dancer (G1) at the Spa. Two back off a 7 1/2 month layoff he ran decent in a fourth place finish in the Ft. Marcy (G3). The third place finisher in that race was King Kreesa, who came back to win the state bred Kingston and the Poker (G2) and then ran a good second to Wise Dan in the Fourstardave (G2) in his most recent outing. Our top pick won three of his five starts in Italy but came up short in his only start in Group company. By Kitten’s Joy out of a Pulpit mare he is bred to handle 1 1/4 miles and it looks as if we should get a decent price and this is not one of the deepest fields for this race we have seen in recent years.
Grandeur is the one to beat but he drew a tough post. He came to the U.S. last fall and won the Twilight Derby (G2) and Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) and his loss was a solid runner up finish in the Hollywood Derby (G1). He came off the bench two back at Newmarket came up short in a Group 2 and then last out ran a solid second in the York Stakes (G2), beaten just 3/4 of a length for the top spot. He comes from far out of it so the outside post may not pose a problem; he just needs to see some pace in front of him which he should get with Little Mike and Nate’s Mineshaft in here.
The Apache was fourth in the York Stakes but it was his first go off a four month layoff. The six-year-old is a Group 1 winner in his native South Africa and ran well in a couple of runner up finishes in Group 1 company at Meydan behind the talented Sajjah. he figures to move forward in his second start off the layoff and is in good hands with the Michael de Kock barn. The 6-1 morning line looks fair enough to give him a look here.
WIN: #1 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 1,13 / 1,7,10,13
TRI: 1,13 / 1,7,10,13 / 1,7,10,11,13
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