Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Nomination Is In: The Modesty and Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park

Kasaqui:  Four Footed Fotos
Welcome Friends to The Turk and the Little Turk.

Today is my second favorite day of the year at arguably my favorite turf track in the United States, Arlington.  What used to be called Million Preview Day is now called Road to the Million, and my primary focus is on two 1 3/16 routes over grass.  By the way, Little Turk and I will be traveling to Arlington for the Million, our second straight year, and would love to meet any readers, you know yourselves, while we are there.

Race six is the Grade 3 Modesty, for Fillies and Mares, three and up while race 9 is the grade 3 Arlington Handicap.  Don't worry about the weather.

Let's get after it!

In the Modesty, Dona Bruja is a five year old Argentinian beast.  9 of 9 in the money over turf and a solid first start in the US in the G3 Mint Julep in early June.

Time and Motion is a Grade 1 winner as a three year old who hasn't quite found her groove as a four year old, with two starts and one Show finish.  Trainer James Toner started a freshening over Belmont turf for past six weeks. 8 of 12 in the money over turf, the Tapit daughter looks to get going in advance of Million day. Hard not to like the gutty and game Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup effort from last October.

Darling Duchess cuts back from 1 1/2 miles today where she won last time out in late May.  2 wins in six starts at this distance.  Speed is an issue.

Prado's Sweet Ride tracked along evenly in the AP Matt Spellman at 1 1/16 miles over yielding turf a month ago.  As the chalk he finished in Show.  The 5 YO goes for Trainer Chris Block, winless in past 12 stake races.

Storming Elle and One Liz round out my potential exotics.  I tossed La Piba and Bonita Cat.  

Darling Duchess will be on the lead and should bring the speed.  I would expect only Dona Bruja and Time and Motion to make serious late runs.  The bet can be as simple as 1 and 3 Over the 1 and 3 Over some combination of horses, or maybe even the 1 Over 3 Over Field.  I'll stew on it and you do too!

The Arlington Handicap is a very nice field of fairly even quality with a few class standouts.  I could go into a major rant about why Arlington can't have more racing days like this, with more fields like this, but I'll sound like a broken record.  Industry insider Ray Paulick has done a better job than I could possibly explaining the situation.

From a Paulick Report in May, "...The racing industry has been trying to get some type of legislative relief since 1991, when riverboat casinos were first approved. It's been stymied repeatedly, and the damage done to the breeding and racing industry is immense. Revenue to the tracks and purses for horse owners has cratered. Horsemen are getting out of the business or moving their stables and breeding stock to neighboring states, all of which offer more substantial purses. Illinois racing has become a shell of its former self.

Slots might have been the answer 10 or 20 years ago, when the competition came from 10 casinos scattered throughout Illinois, and several others were poised just across the Indiana state line adjacent to Chicago's South Side. One of those gambling parlors, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, is only 11 miles from Arlington Park in Chicago's northwest suburbs. Illinois casinos offer a full range of table games – blackjack, roulette, craps et al – to go with slot machines.
More recently, Illinois legislators moved to add electronic games to virtually every tavern and bar in the state. The 2009 law – approved by jailed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – took several years to clear legal hurdles, but it is now in full effect, with tens of thousands of devices at bars, truck stops and fraternal organizations.
Slot machines are no longer unique (May 29, 2017)."
There is still hope regarding bill SB7, but Illinois is such a messed up state, I'm not sure if I'm prepared to have any faith or hope that Arlington can be saved,  I love that track and its a horrible shame what has become of the Illinois racing scene. 
Anyway, Illinois racing is not dead yet, at least for another day.  Turk favorite, Kasaqui (Arg)  looks to be in fine form winning the Wise Dan G2 at CD on June 17.                        

He has a tendency to take Place (10 in 26 starts) but I'm really impressed by this 7 YO.  

Perhaps a contrarian view, I like Manitoulin here.  Comes in off career best 97 Beyer  in a 1 1/8 Turf carrying 122 (He'll be 10 pounds lighter than Kasaqui at 114 today).  Second time out as a gelding (poor fella).  

Sir Dudley Digges is a very classy Ramsey owned Gio Ponti Ontario bred trained by Michael Maker with Leparoux up.  These two combine for 23% wins in past year on 196 mounts.  Winner in N3x $80K OC last time out and will be closer to the pace than Kasaqui at the top of the stretch.  

In the one spot is Taghleeb, another Maker conditioned horse, a 6 YO Hard Spun bred by Shadwell. 

Oak Brook is an up down 5 YO gelded Giant's causeway son that has been claimed repeatedly and is currently in Brian Williamson's barn (8% graded stakes, 10% turf wins, 10% routes). 9 Win-Place results in 19 lifetime races.  Took the Black Tie Affair at Arlington at 16-1 last month on yielding turf. Will be on the pace.  

Ghost Hunter is live and long.  6 Win-Place finishes in 9 turf starts.  Trainer Jamie Ness stepping up big time in Class and Competition.  Has had sucess over the fake dirt, winning G3 Hashin a 1 Mile here at AP in May.  Won last start, 1 1/8 over firm turf at Delaware Park in mid June.  

Applicator I have rated lower than I expect he will be on the tote board at post time.  I look at running lines:  Weakened Late a 1 1/4 in G1 Manhattan, No Factor, No Factor, tired, Walked Off, Weakened, faltered.  I may be too harsh here.  Watch the Manhattan video.  I don't see the horse that earned those running lines.  

Applicator did not belong in the class for breeder/trainer Mikhail Yanakov but really ran well until being eased at 1/16 pole.  Class drop, distance drop.  I'll be watching him on the tote board.  

I'm not sure yet what I'll be doing in the Arlington Handicap.  Whatever you do, do your own handicapping and bet responsibly.  

Turk out!

Paulick, Ray.  May 29, 2017.  "View from the 1/8th pole:  Time is Running Out on Illinois Racing." Retrieved from

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