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HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

Magician is the Favorite in the Arlington Million

Magician wins the Breeders' Cup Turf!
Photo: Don August
 
The field for the 32nd Running of the Arlington Million is set. With only seven starters it is tied for the smallest field size in the history of the prestigious Grade 1 Stakes race. However, the class within this year’s edition is hard to question, and due to the size, there are not too many post position disadvantages like we sometimes see with other races of this magnitude.
 
 
2014 Arlington Million
$1 Million Purse
3-yr-olds & upward – 1 ¼ Mile – Turf
Winner receives automatic qualification into the Breeders’ Cup Turf
 
 
1. 20-1 Hardest Core (KY)              G. Edward               E. Vaz
 
A 4-yr-old Gelding by Hard Spun, and winner of three consecutive races, is looking to take his streak to the next level. Unproven against top class he will be making his graded stakes and Arlington Park debut on Saturday. Formerly trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the Edward Graham trainee is the rightful owner of the morning line long shot. He has proved himself capable of the distance, however, winning at 1 ½ mile on the turf at Delaware Park last time out.
 
*Key Brisnet Stat: Speed Rating Last Race: 97
 
Analysis: Hardest Core is trending upward but to become a first time graded stakes winner against these six horses is a very tall order.
 
 
2. 9-2  Smoking Sun (KY)               B. Pascal                 S. Pasquier
 
Although he was bred in the bluegrass state the son of Smart Strike will be making his first trip to the U.S. for racing. The 5-yr-old has yet to score in a Group 1 race but his relentless pursuit led to a solid runner-up finish last time out in the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup. That race was also on the turf and over the Arlington Million distance of 1 ¼ Mile.
 
*Key Brisnet Stat: Current / Average Class - Last 3: 121.6
 
Analysis: Recent million winners, Cape Blanco (IRE), Debussy (IRE) and Spirit One (FR) all won their first Grade 1 race in North America after never racing on this side of the Atlantic prior. Smoking Sun may be ready to join these European champions on Saturday. Mainly it is because of the class he is racing against regularly. I conclude that if it’s not the Arlington Million it will only be a short amount time before he’s ready to beat the other horses in the field he’s facing.
 
 
3. 7-5  Magician (IRE)                    A. O’Brien               J. O’Brien
 
The 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner returns to the U.S. The score at Santa Anita remains his only other start in North America but his experience at the Arlington Million distance has led to a pair of wins and runner-up finishes over the course of his career.
 
*Key Brisnet Stat: Current / Average Class – Last 3: 122.9
 
Analysis: 1 ¼ mile is when Magician races his best. Since his Breeders’ Cup win he has notched two Group 1 2nd place finishes and one Group 3 win at this distance. His two clunkers since last November were both at a distance of 1 ½ mile.
 
 
4. 12-1 Finnegans Wake (KY)         D. Romans              R. Moore
 
Can Finnegan’s Wake follow in his father’s steps? The son of Powerscourt, 2005 Million winner, returns to Arlington Park after a long awaited drought ended here last time out.  His win in the G3 Arlington Handicap on July 12 was his first ever graded stakes win. But, will that propel him to the font of the class in this year’s Arlington Million.
 
*Key Brisnet Statistic: Back Speed: 103
 
Analysis: Finnegan’s Wake has a lot going for him – He found his grove in Chicago, he’s trained by the 2012 million winner and he has the most starts of any horse in the field on the turf at AP, including a 4th place finish in the 2013 Million. However, his brisnet speed rating last time out is the lowest in the field (82). And since he has yet to deliver on this big of a stage I’m hard pressed to think he can get back to the winners circle this weekend.
 
 
5. 6-1  Up with the Birds (ON)        M. Pierce                 D. Silva
 
Concluding his 3-yr-old season with a win in the G1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park is what sealed the deal and made the son of Stormy Atlantic win Canada’s 2013 Horse of the Year. Since that brilliant score the 4-yr-old colt took a step back with a 6th place finish in an Allowance race at Keeneland followed by another 6th in the G2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico. He then returned to form last month with a win in the G2 Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine.
 
*Key Brisnet Statistic: Speed Rating – Last Race: 100
 
Analysis: Despite those pair of 6th place finishes after his best career win Up with the Birds has never finished worse than 3rd in 10 other starts. His career record stands at 12-7-2-1 which has earned him over $1.2 million. Despite these stats and his awards last year, I have a feeling he will be the horse that is overlooked the most in this field. Having said that, I don't expect him to win and will play him exclusively in the exotic wagering department. 
 
 
6. 5-2  Real Solution (PA)               C. Brown                 J. Castellano
 

The 2013 Arlington Million winner is back. Prior to 2013 the 5-yr-old by Reachfortheheavens - Kitten’s Joy was doing well racing in Italy full time. However, since Chad Brown took over training duties and raced him exclusively in North America his career has really taken off. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf wasn't his best effort but his three races so far in 2014 have kept that race in the rear view mirror. Making up for that subpar performance as well is his jockey, Javier Castellano. He was back in the saddle for his last two races and will now be in Chicago for a chance to lead his horse to something special; back to back wins.   
 
Analysis: Distance was the key in his last two. Stalking from mid-pack or towards the back in both, Real Solution was relying on late jump down the stretch to close the deal. When it was 1 1/8 mile he ran out of real estate where as when it was 1 ¼ he prevailed. Similar to last year’s win, expect him to make all the same moves and for Castellano to be looking for another good kick in the final furlong.
 
 
7. 8-1  Side Glance (GB)                A. Balding      J. Spencer
 
At 7 years young, Side Glance is the oldest and most raced horse in this year’s field. From Great Britain to Australia and Hong Kong to UAE, this lively veteran has seen a few turf courses over the years. Within those 36 races he has only raced in North America on two occasions – last year’s Arlington Million where he finished 3rd and last time out when he also rounded out the top three in the G1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth.
 
*Key Brisnet Stat: Speed Rating – Last Race: 98
 
Analysis: It’s rare that this European horse comes up big in G1 races. Although he did score his first ever Group 1 win last November I don't see him notching his second such win versus this field. Because he has experience on the grass at Arlington and that he’s finished in the top 3 in 20 of 36 career races, he’s another horse that will be tough to leave out of any exotic wagers.  
 
  
Overall Analysis
 
I think this is a classy field of seven and that all of them will contribute to a very fine Arlington Million. I don’t expect the pace to be too quick on the frontend or too slow. Instead I would predict fractions near :48 / 1:13 and that turn for home will present us with all sorts of possibilities.
 
Magician may be deeper than Real Solution at this point of the race but I expect both of them to be ready to fire and make a strong bid in the final furlong. If anyone besides these two big names is there to deny them a win in the 2014 Arlington Million I believe that it will be Smoking Sun. 

 

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL

 

Growing up I spent a lot of days in the Bluegrass State. Although I was born and raised north of the mighty Ohio River in Southwest Indiana, I was still next door to thoroughbred racing; Ellis Park, Henderson, KY 

 

Likewise, the first Saturday in May was always a celebrated family event. As my two brothers and I got older the battle for picking the next winner began to heat up. In 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance. Since then I’ve made it an annaual tradition because there’s no other city or weekend in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 

 

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, following a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when the 2-yr-old preps commence but it does not quit racing until all results are official, the field is set, the picks are made and the roses are worn. But that’s not all because the road doesn’t stop on the First Saturday in May. The elusive quest for the next Triple Crown has reached 35 years so I invite my readers to remain in the saddle through all three legs as we await the next Champion of Champions. Cheers.

 

 



 

 


2013 Kentucky Derby