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HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

2013 Arlington Million: Grandeur Looks to Take Title from Little Mike

Grandeur Cal 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers
 
Here it is, the greatest turf race of the year! Thirteen battle-hardened horses take the post to battle for the million dollar purse this Saturday in the 31st running of the Arlington Million. This international event has attracted horses from all over the world; including Ireland, Great Britain, Argentina, South Africa, and right here in the good ‘ol USA. Irish horse Grandeur draws the outside post and has been installed as the 7/2 morning line favorite.


But first, a little history. The Arlington Million has been run since 1981 where in the initial running, turf champion John Henry edged out The Bart by a molecule. That inaugural race started a long-standing of turf tradition in Chicago. The classic 10 furlong distance represents a true test of grit and stamina on the expansive Arlington turf course. The only three year old to win this prestigious race was Tolomeo in 1983. The two-minute mark has been broken five times with the stakes record being set by the great Awad in 1995 when he won the race in 1:58 3/5. The 7-hole has generated the most Million wins (6) with the rail second (5). And now, let’s take a look at this year’s field!


#1 – Real Solution (Chad Brown / Alan Garcia)


There is no question regarding Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s dominance on turf with sire Kitten’s Joy. This Pensylvania-bred grandson of Pulpit has three victories over the grass including a win in his maiden race in Italy way back in 2011. In fact, this horse had won his first three races over in Europe in dominating fashion. So we know this horse has had some success on the grass in the past. However since winning his first three races, this horse really hasn’t done what it takes to see the race through. Perhaps the horse just needs more distance though and I think the ten furlongs works in his favor.  He had a good showing in the Manhattan back on June 8th and could be peaking at the right time for trainer Chad Brown.
 
(Real Solution finishing third to Point of Entry and Optimizer)



#2 – Finnegan’s Wake (Dale Romans / Robby Albarado)


This two-time winner, and son of 2005 Arlington Million winner Powerscourt, has struggled in recent history. In fact his last victory was in June of last year in an N1X allowance race at Churchill Downs. This Donegal Racing colt had a lot of promise early in his career and would really need to show a lot to take down this year’s Million.


#3 – Hunter’s Light (Saeed bin Suroor / Ryan Moore)


Making his first ever start in North America, and using Lasix for the first time, Hunter’s Light brings his impressive turf record to Chicago to attempt to take the million dollar prize. This horse has already proven himself on the grass and also at the 10 furlong distance where he has won 5 of 14 on the grass in total and 4 of 10 at the classic distance. Since his defeat to Animal Kingdom in the Dubai World Cup, he tried to score victories in Singapore and Germany but was unable to come away with a win. We will need to see if this horse can return to form in the Million. If you like the beaten favorite angle, this horse might be for you.


#4 – Nates Mineshaft (Anne Smith / ET Baird)


Well putting local jockey ET Baird on a pace setter makes a lot of sense, right? He sure does know how to handle those front-runners and Nates Mineshaft sure is one of those. His 2012 campaign was impressive as he scored four wins out of five races including a handful of graded stakes victories. In face he just missed hanging on in defeat to Ron the Greek in the Steven Foster at Churchill. So after that race he took a long break and returned to action in Chicago this last May. And following the standard third off the layoff angle, he won on july 27th paying 9-1 for these same connections. The concern for this horse is his front-running style going farther than he ever has before and against much more experienced turf horses.


#5 – Temeraine (Tom Proctor / Eddie Castro)


Temeraine has been hanging around Chicago since early July and seemed to be pointing for this race since then. He finished a tough second to the great warrior Rahystrada in this year’s Arlington Handicap, just missing by a half-length at 29-1. The knock against this horse is that he really hasn’t faced the tough competition normally required to compete well in the Million. Yet he has some good experience on turf and seems to be working out well as of late. This horse will be coming from behind late so we’ll see if he has the class to close in on this field.


#6 – Side Glance (Andrew Balding / Jamie Spencer)


While this horse has a ton of turf experience, and seven wins on the grass, you have to look back to June 1st of last year to find his last victory. His prior victory to that race was in August of 2011. While he’s just missed in a couple of races since then, he really hasn’t been close as of late. This horse is trying Lasix for the first time but has run in North America once before; a 4th place showing at Woodbine. The Europeans typically do well here in the States, however this horse really seems to be struggling recently. Working in Side Glance’s favor however is that he has faced some tougher company in Group 1 races in Great Britain as well as the Dubai World Cup earlier this year.


#7 – Indy Point (Richard Mandella / Gary Stevens)


What a year Mr. Stevens has had so far. With over $4 million in earnings already this year, he has an opportunity to score big on Million Day with Indy Point. Bred in Argentina, this horse has much more experience on dirt than on the grass. His turf experience is a bit limited, and while the competition he has faced on the grass hasn’t been “European tough,” he is two of three on the grass including a victory at the 10 furlong distance. He has won five of his last seven races and ships in from California to try to take down the Million.


#8 – Mull of Killough (Jane Chapple-Hyam / Joseph O’Brien)


Here’s a horse that needs some serious consideration at 12-1 on the morning line. Mull of Killough had won three in a row before finishing 5th in Singapore and missing by just a length at Ascot in July. He typically runs at shorter distances, like a mile, however in stretching out he does have one victory at 10 furlongs. With the potential of Little Mike and Nates Mineshaft locking horns early, this horse should sit just off the pace and will have first run at the leaders. Jockey Joseph O’Brien is no stranger to graded stakes turf races.


#9 – Guest of Honour (Marco Botti / Martin Harley)


This lightly-raced four year old comes to North America for the first time, tries Lasix for the first time, and is running two furlongs farther than he ever has on the grass. That seems like a daunting task to take on this Saturday. Still, can you really ever discount a European horse on North American grass?

 

(Guest of Honour winning Royal Windsor Stakes)



#10 – The Apache (Mike de Kock / Christophe Soumillon)


Bred in South Africa, this six year old grandson of the great Storm Cat has some very good experience on turf. With seven wins out of nineteen starts, this horse has spent his 2013 campaign away from his home country; running races in Dubai and England. He won his first race back from a year layoff; a turf victory in Dubai. He also had a good showing in the Dubai Duty Free back in March with a second place finish followed with a fourth place finish at York. You have to give this some consideration, however for me the distance may come into question here.

 

(The Apache winning the Al Rashidiya)



#11 – Little Mike (Dale Romans / Joel Rosario)


Combine last year’s Million winner with the hottest jockey in North America, and you have a horse with an excellent chance to repeat. Little Mike is looking to become the second two-time Million winner (John Henry) and I think he has a good chance to do that. Last year, Ramon Dominguez put Little Mike out to the lead and he was able to set some very slow fractions to have plenty of energy to hold on in the stretch. This year he might not be so lucky as Nates Mineshaft with ET Baird might have other plans. I seriously doubt that Little Mike would be allowed to get to the lead alone this time around. If that’s where he wants to be. You simply have to think back to the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year when Little Mike RATED behind a fast 1 ½ mile pace to win the big race at 17-1. He certainly contends here and we’ll see if he can hang on.

 

(Little Mike wins the Breeders' Cup Turf)



#12 – Rahystrada (Byron Hughes / Rosie Napravnik)


Here is the feel good story for the Arlington Million and my sentimental favorite. With over $1.3 million in earnings, this nine year old gelding feels right at home in Chicago. This horse has 14 wins, all on the grass, with four of them coming at Arlington. He is coming off of a victory in the Arlington Handicap (for the THIRD time) and is looking to become the only four-time starter in Arlington Million history. The course fits, the distance fits, the jockey fits, and at 20-1, you certainly have to give this horse some consideration.


(Rahystrada winning the Arlington Handicap for the third time)




#13 – Grandeur (Jeremy Noseda / William Buick)


And you have to look all the way outside to find the 7/2 morning line favorite, Grandeur. Making his third start in 2013, this horse is just rounding into form. He has hit the board 11 of 14 times on the grass and has hit the board 6 of 7 times at this distance. This horse looks tough on paper and has had some good success in North America so far. With the probable faster pace scenario, this horse should have a clean look at the finish pole from the outside with an untroubled trip.


(Grandeur winning the 2012 Hollywood Turf Cup)




Probable Pace Scenario


So it’s no secret that Nates Mineshaft will go to the lead. We know Little Mike can rate but I expect him to be close if not on the lead as well. If the horses lock horns then it could set up well for a horse to come from off the pace.  A lot of the horses in the race figure to be near the lead or mid-pack and I think that Finnegans Wake, Temeraine, and Grandeur will be charging home late.


The Pick


To me it seems Grandeur is the one to beat in this field. He is proven against graded stakes company in North America and he has fared well over in Europe.  I feel that the pace scenario sets up well for him and the distance shouldn't be an issue.  Underneath, I also like Little Mike, Rahystrada, and maybe Real Soution as well (as possible win contenders too).


Who do you like in this year’s Million?


 

 

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Older Comments about 2013 Arlington Million: Grandeur Looks to Take Title from Little Mike...

Partial to the 3 1/2yo too.
I do like the Argentine form of Indy Point. His debut in the United States was considered very good. Logic would tell you he should come on from that race.
Anyhow--I posted my selections on another thread--para mia, The Apache, Grandeur, Indy Point, Little Mike. But a sentimental bet on Rahy, and I guess I am intrigued by GofH and Botti/connections running him here. Then again perhaps he's came along to keep Dandino company.
I did just look and see that. I should have realized as he is trained by Botti and Botti's others are first time Lasix also. Some horses outperform their European form in America with it. Since you like him, you have to include him.
Indeed--first time Lasix for GofH
On form, Guest of Honour has quite a bit to find, in my opinion, to beat these is a race run true to form. But, he may enjoy the firm turf. Is he running on Lasix?
If I were betting, The Apache would be my top pick in the Million, Visiyani in the Secretariat and Dank in the Beverly D. But, you do not ever know how a European horse will like American ovals and the firmness of their turf.
Your thoughts on Guest Of Honour? My longshot here...
@ILuvTurfRacing, I read that Mull of Killough might appreciate more cut in the ground than he will get in Chicago.
I don't see the wide draw being an issue for Grandeur because he's a hold up horse who likes to play his cards late anyway. I figure Buick to drop Grandeur right out the back and save the ground after they break, and Buick knows how to navigate this course because he won the Million in 2010 on Debussy. The best longshot bet in the race, IMO, is Mull of Killough at 12-1. In his last 5 starts he's won the G3 Darley Stakes, G3 Earl of Sefton Stakes, & listed James Seymour Stakes, finished 2nd only a length behind the very progressive Aljamaaheer in the G2 Summer Mile Stakes, and a very creditable 5th of 13 at Kranji in the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup. Mull of Killough rarely ever runs bad races and should not be summarily dismissed in this race, IMO.
Romans is starting to heat up with lots of winners lately.
Give the edge to The Apache, Grandeur, Indy Point, but will place a bet for sentimental reasons on Rahy ;) Guest Of Honour my long shot (along w/Rahy)
gelded1, This race if run on at least a good track, sets up perfectly for Little Mike with Nates Mineshaft on the lead.
I haven't finished handicapping yet but I think Little Mike's only chance is to stalk the pace and not be on the engine in here. I also think the m/l favorite Grandeur will be defeated. Just my opinion. Rahstrada has little to no chance in here ..
thanks rafirox...good luck all. I'm sure some of us will win some $$$...in the end anyone's race to win.
Hunter's Light; The Apache; Real Solution; Rahystrada
no worries rafi. Im going with a group of people so we want to just make a ticket and let it ride. we are going to go deep in each race, i just wanted an idea of who the top choices were.
'welcome, Sonofjorel. Best of luck tomorrow; have fun at the track.
thanks, you guys are awesome
Sonofjorel. Please replace my (B) pick Dark Cove (who scratched) for Suntracer. Good luck. @Jinlie, thanks. Many of the races were a pain to handicap... tough with all of these Euro horses with no pace lines.

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
 
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
 
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