Brown holds strong Million hand with Big Blue Kitten, Slumber
Saturday’s $1 million Arlington Million (G1) features its typical international flavor, with five of the 13 slated for their North American debut and Triple Threat making his second start stateside. However, the domestic contingent, led by Chad Brown trainees Big Blue Kitten and Slumber, figures to be ultra-tough in the prestigious 1 1/4-mile turf affair.
Brown, who captured the 2013 Arlington Million with Real Solution via disqualification, excels with turf horses, recording all five of his Breeders’ Cup race wins on the green, and Big Blue Kitten and Slumber appear to be in career-best form for the top conditioner. Big Blue Kitten has been installed as the 3-1 favorite on the morning line with Slumber the 5-2 second choice.
A Ken & Sarah Ramsey homebred, Big Blue Kitten opened his 7yo campaign with a convincing victory in the May 2 Fort Marcy (G3). The confirmed closer followed with a runner-up to Slumber in the June 6 Manhattan (G1) before turning tables on his stablemate in the July 5 United Nations (G1), winning the 1 3/8-mile turf race at Monmouth Park for the second time (2013 & 2015) with a 1 ½-length decision. Regular rider Joe Bravo will be up.
Slumber is another late-running 7yo. The English import snapped an 11-race losing skein, and pocketed his first U.S. stakes victory, when rolling to a 2 ¾-length Manhattan score on the Belmont Stakes undercard and experienced a troubled trip in traffic most recently, closing stoutly late for second in the United Nations once clear. He equaled a career-best 107 BRIS Speed rating last time and will keep Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle.
Triple Threat is a logical 6-1 early third choice in his second start for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who will be seeking his second Arlington Million after capturing the 1994 edition with Paradise Creek. A Group 2 and Group 3 winner in France, Triple Threat launched his U.S. campaign with an encouraging tally in the June 7 Monmouth (G2), getting up late at a 1 1/8-mile distance that is a little short for him. The 5yo should appreciate the added ground and any further improvement makes Triple Threat a serious win candidate with Jose Lezcano.
International raider Maverick Wave brings a two-race win streak into the Million, capturing the May 7 Huxley (Eng-G3) at Chester last out, and he’s listed as the 8-1 fourth choice with William Buick. Wake Forest merits respect off a Group 3 tally in Germany for trainer Andreas Wohler and is 12-1 on the morning line.
The Pizza Man, a hard-trying Illinois-bred gelding by turf champion English Channel, will be a fan favorite if he starts in the Million. The Roger Brueggemann charge opened this year with a victory in the Opening Verse at Churchill Downs before returning to the Chicago turf with a score in the July 11 Stars and Stripes (G3), and could easily be bet down from his early 10-1 price. The 6yo captured last year’s American St. Leger (G3) on the International Festival Racing program at Arlington and is cross-entered to the 1 11/16-mile race on Saturday. Florent Geroux will ride in either spot.
Grade 3 winner Legendary, third in the Manhattan, brings some tactical speed to the equation and can’t be dismissed from win consideration with Sheldon Russell re-taking the reins. The Niall Saville-trained gelding is an enticing 15-1 on the morning line.
Quiet Force (15-1) is also perhaps a little overlooked following his victory in the July 11 Arlington H. (G3) and the reformed claimer has captured three of his last four attempts for Mike Maker, who will also send out the Ramsey-owned Shining Copper (30-1) to ensure a fast pace for Big Blue Kitten.
Grade 1 winner Up with the Bird (12-1), third most recently in the Arlington H., completes the field.
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