It’s a big day at Arlington Park on Saturday with Million Preview Day, with key local preps for the biggest day of the meeting coming up on Aug.15, Arlington Million Day.
The $100,000 Arlington Handicap (G3) serves as a prep race for the Arlington Million (G1), a race that 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome is pointing for.
The Arlington Handicap drew a field of 10 but three in the race are cross-entered in the $100,000 Stars and Stripes (G3) two races later on the card. Among that trio is The Pizza Man (3-1) and his connections are leaning toward running him in the later race.
Triple Threat is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Arlington Handicap off a nose win in the Monmouth (G2) last out in his U.S. debut and off a nine-month layoff.
Monmouth runner up Middleburg (7-2) figures to take some action as will Up With the Birds, a third in the Dixie (G3) last out in his first start off the bench.
The stakes action kicks off with the $100,000 American Derby (G3), a nine furlong turf test for three-year-olds that serves as a prep for the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes (G1).
A field of seven will line up led by the Mark Casse trained World Approval (2-1), who ran fourth in the Pennine Ridge at Belmont Park in his last outing. The top three in that race all came back to run in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on July 4, but they ran seventh, fifth, and third.
The $100,000 Modesty Handicap (G3) serves as a local prep for the $700,000 Beverly D. Stakes (G1). Ten will go to the post including morning line favorite Riposte (3-1) for the Bill Mott barn.
The mare is zero for four this year after ending her 2014 campaign with back-to-back wins in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and New York (G2).
The finale stake on the card is the Stars and Stripes at 1 ½ miles which serves as the prep for the $400,000 American St. Leger (G3) on the Million Day card.
This is where The Pizza Man likely will race and he is the 2-1 morning line favorite. Trained by Roger Brueggemann, the six-year-old gelding has won 13 of his 21 career starts including eight of 11 over the Arlington Park turf.
He won last year’s Stars and Stripes at 9-5 and then won the St. Leger at 5-1.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Belmont Park along with the stakes action from Arlington Park.
Let’s head out to Arlington Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Arlington Park Race 6 the Arlington Handicap (G3) Post time 3:50 CT
2 Up With the Birds 4-1
8 Triple Threat 5-2
9 Middleburg 7-2
1 Dramedy 10-1
Up With the Birds figures to move forward in his second start off a 5 ½ month layoff for the Graham Motion barn. The five-year-old was caught in tight at the break and was near the back of the pack and came with a good late run while very wide to finish third in the Dixie (G2) at Pimlico. The extra ground here will suit this guy, who won the nine furlong Nijinsky (G2) at Woodbine last year and won the Jamaica (G1) back in 2013. His lone trip over the turf here was a fourth in the Arlington Million (G1) last year.
Triple Threat also makes his second start off the bench. The Bill Mott trainee came off a nine-month layoff to get up in the final jump to win the Monmouth (G2). The five-year-old was making his U.S. debut after winning three of 13 starts overseas including a pair of Group races. His Group 2 and Group 3 wins were both at 1 ¼ miles. The barn is 31% winners (with a +ROI) with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff.
Middleburg was beaten just a nose in the Monmouth and is in the best form of his career since coming back off the bench. It took him six tries to beat Alw-2 foes but now has run well in a couple of graded stakes, two back a decent third in the Ft. Marcy (G3). He has now landed in the exacta in 10 of his 14 career starts and is getting three and four pounds from our top two contenders, but his price may end up not offering much value for the top spot.
WIN: Up With the Birds to win at 5-2 or better.
EXACTA: 2,8 / 1,2,8,9
TRIFECTA: 2,8 / 1,2,8,9 / 1,2,8,9,10
Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday including all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to Oct. 8 and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report. Michael’s two day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Keeneland on Oct. 30-31.