Plenty of turf and plenty of stakes racing highlight the late Pick 5 tomorrow afternoon at Arlington Park. I will be there, and armed with the following selections, I hope to be still alive leg after leg.
My analysis for the initial leg of the Pick 5 is as follows: Silver Max, Silver Max, Silver Max. The top three-year-old turf horse in the land towers over a field of ten sophomores hoping to win the historic Arlington Park race. These days the grade 3 previously won by such heavy hitters as Whirlaway, Citation, Native Dancer, Round Table, Buckpasser, and Damascus is contested at 1 3/16 miles on the turf, and the sure to be heavy favorite loves the lawn. While it’s true Silver Max has never been this far, he should only need to repeat his last six performances (all wins on the grass) to roll tomorrow. While many will look to Daddy Nose Best as an alternative to the chalk, I have seen nothing from him to believe he can handle the likes of Silver Max. If somehow the front running favorite deploys a parachute in the stretch due to the extra distance, I believe recent Churchill Downs allowance winners, Quick Wit or Southern Parkway would be the most likely to pull the shocker, and at much more attractive odds than Daddy Nose Best.
Of the favorites, Boisterous looks like the one to beat in the grade 3, local prep for the Arlington Million. Actually dropping in class of a third place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan, the Shug McGaughey charge has been nothing but consistent since becoming a turf horse, and is proven at the ten furlong distance. He also is a horse who likes to win with 7 victories in 14 lifetime turf starts, making him a must use on Pick 5 tickets. This race is not all about the favorites though, and at 15-1 on the morning line, Cherokee Lord merits a long look. The five-year-old gelding should be in form after a pair of shorter preps and figures to go off even higher tomorrow than his program odds. He may also have the distinct advantage of being the controlling speed in a race with little early pace. Another long one to consider is Proceed Bee. The winner of 12 lifetime races, the son of Bernstein can handle the distance, and also should be ready in his third start since a freshening.
While race favorite and recent Singspiel Stakes winner, Musketier merits big respect, he is not a horse who has exactly been able to pair-up big wins in the past. I will use him, but the horse I like the best is Joinem, assuming he chooses this spot over the Arlington Handicap, in which he is also entered. A son of the distance loving Johar, Joinem finally got the chance to go long in his last race, the Louisville Handicap. He was a little too late that day and came up short to a big performance by the classy Simmard, but a similar type of performance in the grade 3, St Leger prep should be enough to get the job done at the 1 ½ mile distance. Others I will use in the middle leg of the Pick 5 include the distance loving Eagle Poise, and the Arlington loving, Working For Hops, who is trying the extended distance for the first time.
Race 11, allowance
Big Blue Nation ran third in last summer’s grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, and while that race was on slop, and this is polytrack, it would seem to speak to the class edge the George Arnold trainee has over this bunch. He ran well enough in his only try over a synthetic surface, and a sharp run in his last race at Churchill Downs makes me believe he is ready to win this. If he doesn’t take to the Arlington main track well, the most likely winners come from a recent a recent allowance race in which J J Garbar was an unlucky loser, and In the Beat came flying late for trainer, Carl Nafzger.
Race 12, maiden claiming
Grand Avenue comes off too sharp tries in maiden special weight competition at Churchill Downs and now has to go a sixteenth farther against maiden claimers here at Arlington. A repeat effort off his first two races likely gets the job done in this 5 ½ furlong turf affair for high win percentage trainer Wayne Catalano. If the pace proves to be a little too hot for my turf choice, Zulu Warrior might be the one to pick up the pieces. He has come close in this level before, and should have plenty of late run as he cuts back in distance with veteran rider James Graham in the saddle.
Which all leaves me with these Pick 5 tickets in 50 cent wagers:
Silver Max/Boisterous, Cherokee Lord, Proceed Bee, Rahystrada/Joinem, Musketier, Eagle Poise, Workin for Hops/Big Blue Nation, In the Beat, J J Garbar/Grand Adventure, Zulu Warrior ($48)
Silver Max, Quick Wit, Southern Parkway/Boisterous/Joinem, Workin for Hops/Big Blue Nation/Grand Adventure, Zulu Warrior, Johar Irish ($9)