Triple Threat anchor to TwinSpires Late Pick 4; Fourstardave Iron pick
Saturday is Arlington’s biggest day, the International Festival of Racing, and the TwinSpires.com Late Pick 4 comprising the American St. Leger (G3), Secretariat (G1), Beverly D. (G1) and Arlington Million (G1) should easily exceed the $150,000 guarantee.
Here are my thoughts on the races:
American St. Leger: Irish invader Panama Hat (#1) and probable favorite Hyper (#7) from the Chad Brown will be included in multi-race wagers, but Xtra Luck (#8) is my top choice. Liked his improving form this spring, registering BRIS Speed ratings as high as 103, and 4yo didn’t settle comfortably and appeared to regress upon a strong victory in the Louisville H. (G3) when finishing a close fourth in the July 11 Stars and Stripes (G3). Out of a Kris S. mare, Xtra Luck loves a route of ground and Exchange Rate gelding shows three works in a 12-day period (July 30-August 11) for Neil Howard; predicting a rebound. Will spread on my main ticket with German Group 1 winner Lucky Speed (#3) and the surging Canterbury shipper Az Ridge (#5).
Secretariat: Giving the advantage to the Europeans, with War Dispatch (#7) leading the way. War Front colt won five straight on all-weather tracks before switching to turf/group company in early May, romping in a Group 3 event at Chantilly, and respectably stepped up to face much deeper company in his last two, displaying excellent speed in a runner-up effort last time for Jean-Claude Rouget. War Dispatch will be forwardly-placed in paceless race with top French rider Ioritz Mendizabal, who won the 2008 Million wire to wire with Spirit One. Unbeaten Italian star Goldstream (#3) looks dangerous in first start for trainer Andreas Wohler. Highland Reel, who defeated War Advantage three starts back, will be included on main ticket but probably favors a little more ground. Force the Pass can’t be dismissed off a convincing Belmont Derby (G1) score but is stepping up to face deeper.
Beverly D.: Wedding Vow (#9) is a 3yo filly with a bright future for Aidan O’Brien, earning her first stakes tally in smashing fashion before recording a second to top Euro filly Legatissimo in a deep Nassau (G1) at Goodwood. Improving Galileo filly rates the edge. Euro Charline (#8) can win with her best, but she gained valuable fitness before trying 9 ½ furlongs in last year’s victory and has raced sparingly since in advance of another step up in distance. Carla Bianca (#6) appears to be rounding into top form for Dermot Weld, who is always dangerous shipping stateside, and the classy Stephanie’s Kitten (#3) performs well at Arlington (2-1-1-0) and has been pointed toward this event all summer by Brown.
Arlington Million: Triple Threat (#10) appeared on the verge of being among Europe’s best in 2013, winning Group 2 and Group 3 events in France, but raced sparingly last year and was shipped stateside to Bill Mott, returning from a nine-month layoff in the June 7 Monmouth (G2). Don’t be fooled by nose margin; late runner turned in a terrific performance to get out of trouble and close boldly into glacial pace, and will keep moving forward today while stretching out to a more favorable trip. My best bet of the sequence. Will save on both back-up tickets with the Brown-trained Big Blue Kitten and Slumber, including international raiders Bookrunner and Wake Forest on a single tix.
Pick 4 wagers - $61 budget
The main ticket will single Triple Threat in the last leg, with War Dispatch and Wedding Vow being key to the back-ups.
Race 7, $.50 Pick 4: 1,3,5,7,8 with 2,3,6,7 with 3,6,8,9 with 10 ($40)
Race 7, $.50 Pick 4: 1,7,8 with 7 with 3,6,8 with 2,4 ($9)
Race 7, $.50 Pick 4: 1,7,8 with 3,7 with 9 with 2,3,4,5 ($12)
The $500,000 Fourstardave H. (G2) is the featured event at Saratoga Saturday and a solid field of nine is slated for the one-mile event on inner turf. I respect Mshawish, King Kreesa, Seek Again and Vyjack, but Ironicus is going to be a strong play.
Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey is the master at allowing a horse plenty of time to develop, running eventual five-time Grade 1 winner and $2.4-million earner Point of Entry in five turf allowances before trying stakes company on the grass, and he did the exact same with Ironicus from February, 2014 to April, 2015.
McGuaghey made sure his charge was ready and Ironicus responded with 2 ¾-length upset in the May 16 Dixie in his stakes bow. The trainer brought the 4yo back in an allowance last time and Ironicus looked even better, defeating a nice field with consummate ease at Belmont Park on July 8. The Distorted Humor colt is peaking presently and there’s no telling how high the ceiling runs on the exciting Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) prospect.
And at 4-1 on the morning line, with Ironicus having a realistic chance at being the third choice in the wagering, we may not see his price in this range again.
I’ll single Ironicus in everything and take a big swing at him today.
Ironicus photo courtesy of Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos