In a race with a
healthy mix of both American and European influence, Adelaide and Tourist are
set to battle for the three-year-old turf championship this Saturday in
Chicago. Seven other runners complete this field of nine as the ten furlong
battle awaits them in the 2014 running of the Secretariat Stakes
from the one-time Arlington Invitational, The Secretariat Stakes has been run at
the Chicago oval
since 1974 and has been a ten furlong battle since 1986. The
great Kitten’s Joy
holds the stakes record with a time of 1:59 3/5 set back in
2004, and is still the only horse to finish the ten furlongs in under two
minutes in this race. Both Pat Day and Kent Desormeaux have won this race three
times each as well.
Below, Admiral Kitten comes away victorious in last year's Secretariat Stakes.
Now onto the
2014 $500,000 Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes field!
In his last
race, Global View attempted ten furlongs for the first time in his career in
the Belmont Derby on July 5th. After falling back early, as is his
normal running style, he fanned 6-wide at the top of the stretch and couldn’t
get through. I ask myself if it was the distance that was the issue, or
fighting the traffic. This three-time winner has won at distances of 6 ½
furlongs, 1 mile, and 1 1/16 miles, but nothing further. On the contrary, the
only other races in which he didn’t fare well were not run on the grass so I
think we can toss out those races. He has been working out well on Arlington’s
turf course recently so he should be in good form for the race. He should also
be able to save ground on the rail and perhaps fan wide for a clean look at the
Trainer Tom Proctor is winning at a 29% clip at Arlington this summer.
– Catalano/L Dettori – 15/1
and Mary West team up with Chicago training legend Wayne Catalano to send
Highball to the gates against these competitors. This very lightly-raced son of
Lemon Drop Kid finished third, only 1 ¼ lengths back, in the Grade 3 American
Derby about a month ago at Arlington. Highball might have had some excuses in
this race as he broke awkwardly from the gate and swung 5-wide at the top of
the lane. Adding blinkers for the first time, I would expect this horse to be a
little closer to the pace which contradicts his normal running style. With
having found trouble in his first three races, I think Highball needs a clean
trip to have a good shot in this race.
Trainer Wayne Catalano is winning at a 24% rate in turf races this year.
glance this Irish-bred horse, with only the maiden-breaking win (and that was
on the synthetic surface at Dundalk) to his credit, seems a bit overmatched. He
hasn’t exactly faced the toughest competition and doesn’t have experience on a
firm course. However, digging deeper I see some reasons for hope. First time
blinkers and Lasix cannot be ignored as the combination might cause the horse
to light up and surprise this field. Aidan O’Brien is no stranger to turf
racing and tough competition and I would expect Belisarius to be ready to run.
And we all know how European horses fare on American soil…or grass…
Belisarius has been favored to win in four of his six races.
will most certainly need to bring his best to defeat this field on Saturday.
Sure he has won three times on the turf, but they have all been at one mile or
shorter. Plus, the two times this horse has faced graded stakes competition, he
has lost by a combined 16 ½ lengths. It will be interesting to see what the
extra two furlongs does for him on Saturday. In his defense, he has won two in
a row and has been working very sharp on Churchill’s training track. Maker notes to Arlington media relations, "We know he likes turf, and he’s developing."
Trainer Mike Maker is winning at a 27% rate with horses who won their last
#5 – Sheldon
– Toner/Castellano – 15/1
York-based colt jumped right from his maiden-breaker back in June to Grade 1
company in July (in the Belmont Derby). Sheldon’s last three races have all
been at the classic 1 ¼ mile distance so he comes in with a lot of experience
at the distance. At 35-1 he outran his odds by finishing 5th
aforementioned Belmont Derby last month. Does he have what it takes to make
some noise in the Secretariat Stakes? I’ve always thought horses needed class
to close and in a field with limited front speed, closing in from far back
(which he normally does) might prove to be difficult. Still, three-year-old
horses tend to improve during their sophomore campaigns, so you never know.
Jockey JJ Castellano is winning at a 26% rate in 2014.
trainer Aidan O’Brien’s other runner in Saturday’s stake. Adelaide certainly
fits the part here. Also visiting Arlington from the Belmont Derby (where he
lost by a neck to Mr. Speaker), this horse has faced some tougher competition
including group stakes races in France, Ireland, and England (Group 2 stakes at
Ascot). If there’s a chink in the armor here, it’s probably Adelaide’s lack of
experience on a firm going on the grass. Is that enough to discount him?
Adelaide leads the field with $416,168 in lifetime earnings.
lightly-raced colt has been quite consistent so far in his brief career. After
a couple of 7 ½ furlong turf wins at Gulfstream early in the year, the stretch
out in distance is just what the doctor ordered for Divine Oath. I was very
impressed with his win in the American Derby on July 12th
closed into a soft-ish pace (:48 2/5 and 1:13 2/5) to win by ½ length. The
extra 1/16 of a mile will only help this horse. Local jockey Florent Geroux
retains the mount and I think that’s a very good sign.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is winning at a 28% rate when his horses won their last
to do with this horse. First, this horse has only seen graded stakes
competition once and that was in the Palm Beach at Gulfstream back in March
(finished 5th). Sure the horse is 6-for-7 on the board in is
lifetime starts, but he just hasn’t faced the kind of competition that would
prepare him for a race like this. And yes it’s called horse racing and not
trainer racing, but I have a tough time throwing out any of Graham Motion’s
turf horses no matter the race.
Trainer Graham Motion has a $3.39 ROI in graded stakes races.
choice in this field, Tourist is coming off of a streak of three victories in a
row. He hasn’t run in a turf race longer than 1 1/16 miles, however his
pedigree (Tiznow-Unbridled Melody by Unbridled’s Song) suggests that the extra
distance won’t be a problem. Again, I know that three-year-olds tend to greatly
improve during the second half of the calendar year, but Tourist just hasn’t
faced the saltier competition. “We thought the horse had a lot of talent, and we felt like there was something that was going to improve him and thought, ‘A surface change might help’,” trainer Bill Mott said to Arlington media relations. “We made the switch, and he responded well.” With that being said, coming into the race third
off the layoff and with improving Beyer speed figures (and possible lone-speed
depending on what those adding blinkers do), Tourist definitely has a good shot
Trainer Bill Mott and jockey Joel Rosario win at a 24% rate when entered
Since many of these runners are coming out of similar races, let's review some of those contests.
Below is the 2014 Belmont Derby featuring Global View (7th), Sheldon (5th), and Adelaide (2nd).
Below is the Sir Cat stakes at Saratoga where Tourist is the winner.
Below is the 2014 American Turf featuring Global View (1st) and General Jack (5th)
And finally, below is the 2014 Penn Mile featuring Global View (2nd) and Divine Oath (4th).
On paper it
sure looks like Tourist will be gunning for the early lead. “I expect him to be forwardly placed,” trainer Bill Mott said to Arlington media relations. “He’s got speed but can rate.” With the addition
of blinkers, I also expect Belisarius (likely the O'Brien rabbit) to be on the lead as well. Though Highball
adds blinkers, I think he will be sitting midpack with Adelaide, General Jack,
and Can’thelpbelieving. Divine Oath will be a little further back and closing in
from the clouds will be Global View and Sheldon. The main question to be is
whether or not Tourist can put the field to sleep while sitting on the lead. If
so, he could steal the race.
sure seems like the logical choice, yet I worry about the firm ground. Tourist
has the speed figures, but hasn’t run at the ten furlong distance yet and might lock horns in an early pace duel.
My top pick
in this race is Divine Oath. I just think the distance suits him best and he
has proven he likes Arlington’s amazing turf course. Along with Divine Oath, I
also like Global View, Adelaide, and Sheldon (who I think has an excellent chance for an upset) to round out the top
Who do you
like in this year’s Secretariat Stakes?