Alabama, Million highlight nationwide action

There are three Saturdays left in the 2010 Saratoga meet and while that’s disappointing given that the tremendous racing at Spa is limited, but we still have a lot to be excited about over the next 16 days.  Today’s card is highlighted by the Alabama, pitting Devil May Care and Blind Luck against one another in a showdown that will go a long way towards determining the Eclipse Award winning 3YO filly. Click here for my analysis of the entire Saturday card at Saratoga.

Blind Luck and Devil May Care aren’t the only two superstars in search of glory this afternoon as Gio Ponti will be looking for his 2nd consecutive Arlington Million.  The Arlington card features four graded stakes races, which are linked together in a Pick 4 and a $300,000 guaranteed Pick 3 covers the three Grade I stakes (Secretariat, Beverly D, Million).  Here are my thoughts on the four graded stakes at AP:

Race 7, The GIII Stars and Stripes Turf (G3)

After seeing the entries for this race I was a tad surprised to see #2 PERFECT SHOWER headed here only 15 days after he finished a solid 2nd in the John’s Call at Saratoga.  He ran a very game race that afternoon as he surged late when finally clear after racing in traffic for about 11 of the 13 furlongs the field traveled.  Trainer Roger Attfield, who is known throughout the continent for his turf prowess, is 18% with turf horses coming back in 1-20 days and his ROI is $3.94.  Among the winners he’s had using that angle is this son of Perfect Soul, who won the biggest race of his career, the Breeders’ Stakes (3rd leg of Canadian Triple Crown) last year, only 15 days after he broke his maiden for a 25k tag!  Attfield worked this colt 5 panels on the turf at Woodbine and he’s facing softer today in this graded stake than he did in the John’s Call.  #4 MEMORIAL MANIAC is coming in off a win against optional claimers here at Arlington which was his 2nd victory at AP in his career.  If you go back to this gelding’s 2nd place finish in a N2X at Keeneland you’ll see that he slugged it out that afternoon with the top pick and the eventual winner, Winchester, who came out of that race to take the GI Manhattan Handicap.  This son of Lear Fan ran into trouble in his next two turf races at Churchill and those efforts sufficiently darken his form and make him a very good play at his morning line odds of 6-1.
PICKS: 2-4-5

Race 8, The Secretariat (G1)

One thing that seems like a certainty in this affair is that #4 WIGMORE HALL is not going off at his morning line price of 5-1.  His name has been on everyone’s tongues since they got a look at his 2010 record, his troubled trip win in the John Smiths Cup and read trainer Michael Bell talk about the difference in this son of High Chaparral since he was gelded.  Bell has shipped three horses into North America over the last five years with no success and it has to be considered a tad disconcerting that he told the Racing Post following the aforementioned Smiths Cup that this guy was in need of a vacation.  He’s now making his 2nd start since then but followed up the Smiths Cup with a handy win over a highly rated Godolphin 3YO named Chabal.  So what does that mean about this guy handling #1 PADDY O’ PRADO?  It’s undeniable that ‘Paddy had an absolutely perfect trip in the Virginia Derby last time and he probably feasted on competition that was not suited to ten furlongs.  He’ll meet the biggest challenge of his life today with the Euro invader certain to make an impression.  I’m using both.
PICKS: 1-4-7

Race 9, The Beverly D. (G1)

After hearing that #5 RAINBOW VIEW would be scratched, an already wide open event became virtually inscrutable as a tremendously well matched group of fillies and mares will square off.  I liked #2 HOT CHA CHA in the Modesty Handicap and knew she’d be up against it pace-wise with the late Tuscan Evening likely to set a very slow pace.  That’s exactly what happened but this daughter of Cactus Ridge stayed on gamely in the stretch to save the show dough and is set to get a much better pace setup this afternoon.  I can’t abandon her now and will hesitantly take her in a race that truly gives you little on which to make a strong opinion.  #10 AVE enters this affair off of a narrow miss in the Dance Smartly at Woodbine in what wound up being a rather strange race when you watch it and view the fractions.  After a slow opening quarter, the internal fractions were exceptionally fast before the field finished the final three furlongs in an ordinary :37.  She has a good late kick and should offer some value in a race that will have a favorite in the 5-1 range.
PICKS: 2-10-1

Race 10, The Arlington Million (G1)

#6 GIO PONTI entered last year’s Arlington Million on an impressive 3 race winning streak and he absolutely throttled the competition in this event.  He’s lost a bit of the luster he had last year as he needed every yard to get up over a huge longshot in the Man O’ War last time out but he ran squarely against race dynamics in that event.  He is once again a deserving favorite but meets a much stronger Euro contingent than he ever has before.  #9 TAZEEZ hasn’t won in over 16 months but has faced top company across the pond this year with a very strong 3rd place finish in the Prince of Wales at the rich Royal Ascot meet.  He was bested that afternoon by two of Europe’s top turf horses, Byword and Twice Over, and the latter came back to take a Group I event in his next start.  This son of Silver Hawk is not your typical European as he does his best running on the lead and should be forwardly placed from the start.  Americans got acquainted with trainer John Gosden two years ago when he scored with Raven’s Pass in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and his roots here are still significant.  You can expect him to have this gelding ready to roll.
PICKS: 9-6-10

In the All-Stakes Pick 4, I’ll play: 2,4 with 1,4 with 1,2,6,7,8,9,10 with 6,9,10     TOTAL: 84

Best of luck with the Million and the entire Arlington card, along with the Saratoga program.  See you back tomorrow for a recap and a look at the Sunday Saratoga card!  Here’s a look at Gio Ponti’s 2009 Arlington Million victory to whet your appetite for this afternoon’s festivities:

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