The Arlington International Festival of Racing has always been known for its International flair and this Saturday is no exception, as horses from across the globe will come to Arlington Park to compete in a loaded stakes schedule that features three Grade I races highlighted by the 34th running of the Arlington Million (GI).
The Arlington Million has long been considered the premier summer turf event in the United States. All-time great horses such as Manila, John Henry and Steinlen have previously won the race. This year’s field is wide-open and has a nice mix of international horses set to compete.
He has been banging heads with top competition this season including a win in the Jebel Hatta (GI) at Meydan in early Spring. His run in the $6 million Dubai Turf (GI) was solid, as he was rolling late to get up for third. He is coming off of a flat fifth-place finish in the Price of Wales Stakes (GI) at Royal Ascot, where long shot My Dream Boat upset him, as well as highly touted A Shin Hikari and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf champion Found. Tryster’s jockey, William Buick, ships in for this and he will have the Charley Appleby charge rolling down the lane.
Has run his best races at shorter distances throughout his career, but, in his latest against Time Test in the York Stakes (G2), he went over 10 furlongs and finished a solid second in that affair. His connections are hoping he is regaining his form that earned him a win in the Woodbine Mile (GI) and a hard-fought second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile last season. He is a major player in here.
Interesting that Aidan O’Brien sends the Belmont Derby (GI) winner in the Million instead of the Secretariat Stakes. The three-year-old crop in Europe is insanely talented this season and his poor performance against Harzand and US Army Ranger should be taken with a grain of salt. He finished a strong second to Wings of Desire in the Dante Stakes (G2) back in May and that rival flattered his form by finishing second to Highland Reel in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (GI) at Ascot last month. He was not respected at the windows in his US debut, but defeated a talented US group anyway. He gets a break in the weights in here too, getting six pounds from his competitors. There is a lot to like.
11-World Approval (4-1)
He is coming off of a nice win in the United Nations (GI) last month after banging heads with Flintshire two starts back in the Manhattan Handicap (GI). Has been a gem of consistency this season and seems to be getting better with each start. He has the tactical advantage to get first jump on Tryster and, if that foe runs into traffic issues, this dude can win Saturday.
8-Decorated Knight (10-1)
He is the quiet European invader that might be forgotten at the windows come Saturday. He has not faced the competition that the others in here have, but he has been consistent and he has never finished worse than fourth place in any of his previous 10 races. In a wide-open Arlington Million, there would be more surprising winners than him.
5-The Pizza Man (10-1)
The defending Arlington Million champion is back to defend his title on his favorite track. It appears that age may be catching up to this 7-year-old, however, as he has failed to hit the board in any of his previous starts in 2016. His most recent performance was not that bad and if he still has some run in him, he can contend. With his current form it will be tough to recommend him at anything less than 10-1. If he were to float to around 15-1, he becomes an interesting value play.
10-Wake Forest (5-1)
He will be Chad Brown’s lone entrant in this year’s edition of the Arlington Million. He brings good form into this affair and if he had broken better in the United Nations, he might have been able to give World Approval a run for his money. Wake Forest is talented and may step up big here, but at 5-1 there are others in here that I fancy more than him on the win end. They say its fool’s gold to play against Chad Brown in a turf race. We are about to find out.
1-Danish Dynaformer (30-1)
He is no stranger to this level of competition, as he faced Divisidero and World Approval in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) earlier this season. Roger Attfield used the Singspiel Stakes (G3) at Woodbine for his prep for this race and Danish Dynaformer seems to be coming into this event in good form.
7-Take the Stand (15-1)
Has been idle since March when he defeated World Approval in the Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) at the Fair Grounds. He figures to be the early pace in here and will more than likely try to steal this one alone on the front end. The time off is a concern, especially given the quality of this field. Bill Mott knows his horses, but it’s hard to see a scenario that he pulls off the upset Saturday.
He won the Arlington Handicap (G3) in preparation for this race. He seems talented, but is perhaps too slow to go toe to toe with some of these in here. There just isn’t enough evidence to prove that he belongs in here.
2-Dubai Sky (30-1)
Finished second in his return to the races after a lengthy layoff in his latest. He is another out of the barn of Bill Mott and he should be respected for that alone, but based on seasoning this year, he seems overmatched Saturday. He may end up being a talented horse as the season unfolds, but his chances in here seem dim.
Nice win in the Stars and Stripes (G3) as his prep for the Million. He is in good form and may make a run during the race but he will need to beat me in order to show me that he belongs.
4-Pumpkin Rumble (30-1)
He ran a terrific race to be third in the Stars and Stripes (G3) behind Greengrassofyoming. His performances before that race lack any evidence that he can hang with these. I am afraid the clock has struck midnight for this pumpkin.