Arlington Park spot plays: Larry Rivelli set for big Saturday

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 31st, 2019

Saturday could be a good day for trainer Larry Rivelli.

With 21 wins from 45 starters—a 47% strike rate—Rivelli is leading the trainer standings at Arlington Park and will have five runners on the Illinois racetrack’s Saturday card. The star of the show is Daddy’s Boo, who could have a live chance to upset the Arlington Matron Stakes (G3), but Rivelli also has a couple of serious players entered to run in earlier races on the card.

Let’s look for a few spot plays leading up to the Arlington Matron.

Race 1

Rivelli’s #4 Gangsta Girl figures to be favored in this six-furlong, $20,000 maiden claimer for 3-year-old fillies. An unraced daughter of Uncaptured, Gangsta Girl has posted a few solid workouts in preparation for her debut and will have Arlington’s leading jockey, Jose Valdivia Jr., in the saddle.

But could a former Rivelli trainee spring a mild upset? #5 Night Flower brought a slow and inconsistent work tab into her May 18 debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Arlington, where she shot to a three-length early lead before weakening in the homestretch to finish third. Claimed out of that race by Eduardo Rodriguez, who wins at a 20% rate with new acquisitions, Night Flower could benefit from having a run under her belt and could also show improvement if she rations her speed a bit better.

Let’s box Gangsta Girl and Night Flower in the exacta.

$10 exacta: 4,5 with 4,5 ($20)

Race 3

The majority of the fillies in this 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for Illinois-breds are coming out of a similar race at Arlington two weeks ago, where they were all crushed by an 11 1/2-length runaway winner. #2 Ghaaleb’s Magic is coming out of unrestricted maiden races and could find the drop to state-bred company helpful. In her debut sprinting six furlongs at Hawthorne, Ghaaleb’s Magic made a mid-race move to challenge for the lead before she weakened to finish third. She then stretched out to 1 1/16 miles at Arlington, but acted up behind the starting gate, never fired during the race and finished last of 11.

The return to a sprint distance should help Ghaaleb’s Magic, and trainer Scott Becker has certainly been successful with this move, striking at a 34% rate with horses cutting back from routes to sprints. Becker will team up with jockey Christopher Emigh, and together they’ve won at a 31% rate over the last 60 days.

I’ll bet Ghaaleb’s Magic to win and key her in the exacta with #1 Lizz a Bee and #4 Red Jersey.

$8 to win on #2 Ghaaleb’s Magic $2 exacta: 2 with 1,4 ($4) $4 exacta: 1,4 with 2 ($8)

Race 5

#11 Gentle Touch showed promise in her debut for Rivelli, when she finished third by two lengths in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on the Arlington Polytrack three weeks ago. Now Gentle Touch is switching to grass, a surface she’s bred to relish. In addition to the obvious—her sire, Kitten’s Joy, has been the leading turf sire in North America every year since 2013—Gentle Touch has five full siblings who won on grass, including the graded stakes-placed runners Becky’s Kitten, Cozy Kitten and Sisterhood. With a pedigree like this, coupled with high-profile connections (she’ll be ridden by Valdivia), I’m expecting a big effort from Gentle Touch in her turf debut.

$15 to win on #11 Gentle Touch $5 exacta: 11 with 4,5 ($10)

Total cost of all plays: $65

Good luck!