Arlington Park: Opening-week maiden special weight spot plays

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 23rd, 2020

Arlington Park opens for racing this week, and the first Saturday of the meet looks appealing with a trio of maiden special weights among the highlights of an eight-race card.

To celebrate the occasion, let’s tackle the action with three spot plays:

Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 3:35 p.m. ET)

Trainer Larry Rivelli has compiled extraordinary win percentages at Arlington Park over the last three years. Since the beginning of 2017, he’s gone 233-for-697 overall (33%) and 17-for-40 (43%) with 2-year-old first-time starters.

That’s why the Rivelli trainees #1 Big Win (5-2) and #3 Back It Up (7-2) warrant plenty of respect in this maiden dash for juvenile fillies. Both have shown speed in the mornings and will receive plenty of wagering support in a race that didn’t come up particularly tough on paper. Of the pair, Big Win might have the slight edge; her work tab is longer and deeper, suggesting she might be further along in her training.

A win bet on Big Win is in order, but we’ll also play her on top of a straight exacta with Back It Up underneath:

  • $20 Win: #1 Big Win
  • $10 Exacta: 1 with 3

Total: $30

Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 furlongs on turf, 5:05 p.m. ET)

Rivelli holds a strong hand again with #3 Dive Deep (8-5) and #6 Savage (4-1). Dive Deep’s credentials are obvious; in his debut on July 10 at Keeneland, he flashed speed in a 6-furlong, $50,000 maiden claiming race before weakening slightly to finish third. The 75 Brisnet Speed rating he received makes him competitive against this field, and the progeny of sire Midshipman strike at a solid 13% rate when trying turf for the first time.

Savage also warrants respect. An unraced son of Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Commissioner, Savage has shown speed in the mornings and will be ridden by high-percentage jockey Christopher Emigh, a 28% winner this year.

But #4 Charliecando (3-1) can give the Rivelli runners a fight. Yes, he’s 0-for-8, but in his lone turf sprint to date he rallied to finish second in a 5-furlong maiden special weight at Tampa Bay Downs, earning a solid 82 Brisnet Speed rating. Charliecando faded when trying 1 1/16 miles in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Gulfstream last month, but the cutback in distance should trigger a rebound, and trainer James Gulick wins at a 33% rate with horses jumping from maiden claiming races into maiden special weight company.

Let’s bet Charliecando to win and play him in the exacta with Dive Deep and Savage:

  • $20 Win: #4 Charliecando
  • $5 Exacta: 4 with 3,6 ($10)

Total: $30

Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (1 mile on turf, 5:35 p.m. ET)

Rivelli can return to the winner’s circle with #2 Rule Follower (2-1), the lone first-time starter in a generally unremarkable field. Sold for $275,000 as a 2-year-old in training, Ruler Follower is a son of Algorithms (who sires 11% winners from first-time starters) out of the War Front mare Speedy War, previously the dam of early-maturing juvenile stakes winner Stifling.

There isn’t much speed in this field, so if Rule Follower comes out running, he can steal away on the front end and lead all the way around. We’ll box him in the exacta with #2 Accessible (9-5), beaten a neck over this surface and distance on Apr. 4 at Tampa Bay Downs:

  • $10 Win: #4 Rule Follower
  • $5 Exacta Box: 2-4 ($10)

Total: $20

Good luck!