Arlington Million 2018: Odds and analysis for Saturday's race

August 07, 2018 12:41pm
Oscar Performance_Belmont Derby 2017 3_615x400
Photo: NYRA

The first race to offer such a high purse, the Arlington Million has maintained its Grade 1 prestige, as well as spot on the calendar to highlight turf runners each August. Saturday’s renewal attracted 11 interests, both domestic and international, but the focus is squarely on the favorite, Oscar Performance.

Is he good or great? We’re likely to find out when they go postward at Arlington Park to cap a card that also includes the Grade 1 Beverly D. for fillies and mares, as well as the Grade 1 Secretariat for the 3-year-olds.

Here’s a look at the Arlington Million field with a morning line by Horse Racing Nation for the 1 1/4-mile race:

Circus Couture, 25-1 (Intikhab — Jane Chapple-Hyam — 30: 9-9-7): The 6-year-old will stretch out here, as his longest start of the year has come at nine furlongs, and make a large jump in class. He figures to be a longshot in his first U.S. race but has surprised before. Back on June 20, in Royal Ascot’s Royal Hunt Gold Cup, he ran third of 30 horses at odds of 100-1. You may get a similar price Saturday given the unknowns moving to the Grade 1 level. He’d be a risky bet.

Spring Quality, 5-1 (Quality Road — Graham Motion — 11: 6-3-0): The Motion trainee, brought along patiently during his career, reached a new top last out by winning the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes day. He closed from 11th to beat Sadler’s Joy, who he ran from 13th early. If there’s a collapse up front in the Million, perhaps Spring Quality can contend again. But the 6-year-old has also shown he can run adjust to the pace and run closer. While his running style is inconsistent, he tends not to take money. You’ll likely get a nice price on a last-out Grade 1 winner.

Almanaar, 15-1 (Dubawi — Chad Brown — 15: 6-3-2): In his fourth start for Brown, this gelding won last year’s Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap but then missed significant time due to injury. He returned June 8 with an allowance optional claiming win at Belmont Park, which he took off just five works back. He’s a closing type who, before the injury, had a tendency to just miss, making him the type that you may not play in the win spot but should have on your tickets. Deep waters for second off the bench.

Divisidero, 20-1 (Kitten’s Joy — Kelly Rubley — 19: 6-3-3): Transferred this year from William “Buff” Bradley to Rubley, the 6-year-old horse earned his spot in this field by winning the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap back on July 7. The final margin was a half length, but the trip was rough, as Divisidero bobbled a the start and ran wide throughout before circling the field. Rather than go in the Million, connections will try him the same day in Saratoga's Grade 1 Fourstardave. He'll scratch.

Century Dream, 10-1 (Cape Cross — Simon Crisford — 15: 7-0-2): This is perhaps the least-discussed Arlington Million runner, and he’ll be making his first U.S. start on Saturday. This year already he won a stakes at Ascot, took a Group 3 at Epsom and then stepped up in class for his next two starts, finishing fourth. The 4-year-old ships having last run on July 14 — international horses tend to struggle less with quick turnarounds — and could be better suited to compete at the Grade 1 level in America. This could be class relief coming from Ascot.

Catcho En Die, 30-1 (Catcher in the Rye — Naipaul Chatterpaul — 9: 5-1-0): He struck last out in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes, also at Arlington, by a neck on the front end. That was going a mile and a half, however, so shortening up he figures to stalk the pace. Neither of his other Grade 1 starts in fields of similar quality to this yielded a finish on the board. The Argentina-bred figures to be out-classed again. Looks a cut below contending.

Twenty Four Seven, 50-1 (City Zip — Roger Brueggemann — 17: 5-0-3): This is essentially the home team horse being that he’s campaigned by Midwest Thoroughbreds, winning owner of the 2015 Million with The Pizza Man. That won’t prevent the former claimer from going off as likely the longest shot on the board. He was sixth last out in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap but before that did win back-to-back allowance starts going a mile over the course. There’s nothing on paper to indicate, however, he’s a contender here. Looks well overmatched.

Money Multiplier, 10-1 (Lookin At Lucky — Chad Brown — 23: 5-8-2): A rare case of a horse going far overseas, yet returning a winner, this 6-year-old was caught late Feb. 24 in the Group 1 Emir's Trophy in Doha, Qatar. On May 26, he won the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes in his return race and on June 30 nearly closed to win the Grade 2 United Nations. Brown has this horse in what could be career-best form, and the added distance could pay off Saturday. Should hit the board.

Deauville, 8-1 (Galileo — Aidan O’Brien — 21: 4-6-4): Third in the last two runnings of the Arlington Million — as the favorite in 2017 — the well-traveled O’Brien runner is back to try again. Curiously, his running lines for both efforts are nearly identical. He sat fourth until the stretch, took a brief lead and was out-kicked. This will mark his fifth race in the form cycle, and Deauville failed to fire as the favorite in Group 1 company at Royal Ascot. He could be primed to burn more win money here. Third time not likely the charm.

Robert Bruce, 4-1 (Fast Company — Chad Brown — 7: 7-0-0): If you believe a horse is best third off the layoff, this member of the Brown trio could be worth playing. He was unbeaten in his first seven starts — six of those in his native Chile — before defeated last out in the Manhattan. While sixth across the wire, it was amid a blanket finish in which the first nine were all within two lengths of the winner. Considering Robert Bruce bumped with rivals in the stretch, he could have been closer. Another formidable Brown runner.

11. Oscar Performance, 9/5 (Kitten’s Joy — Brian Lynch — 12: 7-0-1): He jumped off the bench June 17 to win Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Poker Stakes in track record time, sparking conversation that this could be the year he wins a division title. Winning the Million as its favorite would mark a major step in the right direction. Lynch is oozing confidence heading into the race, and rightly so, as he has a fresh horse who already won a Grade 1 over the course when Oscar Performance took the 2017 Secretariat Stakes. It’s his race to lose, and he could be the one to catch, often found on or near the early lead. Will the outside post hurt him? Deserving favorite.

If you like Oscar Performance — and it’s tough not to — this race can still pay well given the chaos that could ensue behind him. Each of Brown’s contenders look formidable, with Robert Bruce perhaps offering a price off a narrow defeat. Keep in mind that Spring Quality has targeted this race from the moment he crossed the wire last out. To add, international runner Century Dream is intriguing as a board hitter at the highest level in Europe.


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