Excited for the final three weekends in August
First up, the 34th running of Arlington Million (G1) highlights a trio of Grade 1 turf events featuring European invaders in Arlington’s Festival of Racing and Saturday’s stakes fare also features a contentious field in the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga and juvenile prospects in the Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar.
It serves a precursor to next weekend’s blockbuster offerings, with Songbird in the Alabama (G1) and California Chrome squaring off against Dortmund and possibly Beholder in the Pacific Classic (G1). Del Mar has a total of four graded stakes on tap August 20-21.
The month concludes with the always highly-anticipated Travers (G1) weekend. Exaggerator can strengthen his hold on divisional honors in the main event and North America’s leading turf horse, Flintshire, will seek his third consecutive Grade 1 tally for new trainer Chad Brown in the Sword Dancer (G1). Saratoga has a total of six Grade 1 races on August 27.
Here are my early thoughts on Arlington:
I expect a European shipper to come out on top in the Million.
Tryster should be a solid favorite and the 5-year-old gelding will have a long run to the first turn to avoid losing too much ground from post 12. He’s clearly the horse to beat based on 2016 form but Mondialiste merits serious respect following his North American exploits last fall, winning the Woodbine Mile (G1) and finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The extra quarter-mile is little concern – the David O’Meara exits a narrow second in a 1 5/16-mile Group 2 race – and Mondialiste is listed as the 8-1 fifth choice. I’ll likely side with the value.
Sea Calisi is an imposing Beverly D (G1) favorite for Brown.
A solid case can be made for both Beach Patrol and Long Island Sound, who are expected to contend for favoritism in the Secretariat (G1), but I like the improving form of American Patriot, who steps up to face better after posting a 1 ½-length victory in his stakes debut, the July 16 Kent (G3).
This is an exciting time for fans.
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