|The Pizza Man: Photo by Benoit|
Today I'm focusing on Arlington Park, a backwater in horse racing because of Local/State politics and the inability to field quality races with meaningful purses. It's a beautiful track, and the lush blue-green grass is everything that's right with the game. Even it's fake dirt plays very fair.
The rhythm of Arlington isn't complicated. You can work backwards from The Arlington Million in mid August, to Arlington Million Preview Day in Mid July and finally to Saturdays like this in June. I like to handicap these $50,000 minor stakes in June because it gives me a feel for the horses that will round out those fields of Euro invaders and top turf horses that will ship in for the big days. I'm not saying you need to play these days to have good handicapping days when Grade 1 racing returns but I'm saying it helps me get a feel for the track and the locals.
I'm only a bit interested in these races. I'd like to see the fields a bit bigger and the class a bit more even. My goal is again to get a feel for the local trainers, these local horses, and to make some intelligent handicap/bet combos. I'm a good Pick 3 handicapper, but I tend to cover too many horses in the bet selection, taking value away. I typically only play Pick 3's if I feel like I can find value with 2 legs of the race boasting my chalk that are 3rd or lower on the tote board. I sense this series will be chalky but let's get after it anyways!
The first two races are over turf at 1 1/16 miles. Today the Turf was upgraded to good. With more rain in the forecast, it's hard to say right now what the track condition will be at post time.
The Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap is for F&M, 3 YO and Up. I have three horses that I think can take the wire: Lovely Loyree/5, last year's winner Stormin Elle/4 and Prado's Sweet Ride/2. The class of the race without a doubt is Lovely Loyree: 10 of 10 at the distance in the money and 14 of 14 in the money over turf, as well as 5 of 5 in the money at AP. Trainer Michele Boyce is 16% with horses off a 180+ day break and that's what she's facing here. I question if the goal is to win this race or have a good workout. I'd feel comfortable backing any of the three but when forced to choose I may just take the 4-2 into the Pick 3.
In race 8, the Black Tie Affair Handicap, we have the season debut of handicap division star The Pizza Man/3. I'm going to assume he p;icks up where he left off, a mid to upper 90+ Beyer and the soft grass won't bother him at all. Trainer Chris Block's Cammack/1 will be a strong competitor as well coming late. 3 straight wins and low 90+ Beyers. Super Soldier/2 comes in off a OC 35K win at 1 Mile at AP on a troubled trip where he closed rapidly in last 1/16.
In race 9, an OC 50K/N2X, I'm high on Cash Bonus/7 and Western Elegance/6. Both are steady performers.
I don't plan on overthinking this too much. I'll be watching the tote and the weather conditions as well as scratches and changes from the Arlington Park website. I'll be assembling a Pick 3 bet that I suspect will be a bit chalky. I intend to cover 2-4 OVER 1-2 OVER 7-6-1-3. A $2 bet would cost $32. Going to 2-4 OVER 1-2 OVER 7-6 on a $2 bet would cost $16. That's the sort of risk/reward bet that offers value. Covering Lovely Loyree and Pizza Man may feel good as a race fan, but I suspect they will be heavily bet and I'm suspicious of the trainer expectations tomorrow.
Have fun with it. Turk Out!