Arlington Million one-liners
With an American turf division in search of a leader, high-class internationals seeking resume boosts, and a Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) berth on the line, Arlington Million XXXV shapes up as a fascinating renewal.
Here’s my one-line synopsis of the field, in post position order:
Oak Brook, second at 45-1 after a favorable on-the-pace trip in the Arlington H. (G3), will encounter a radically tougher scenario from flagfall to finish.
Oscar Nominated doesn’t have the win chance of full brother Oscar Performance in the Secretariat (G1), but the honest son of Kitten’s Joy often pays his way and now gets Florent Geroux back aboard.
Enterprising experienced a revival of fortune at Fair Grounds over the winter, but has since gone off the boil and now steps up in both class and trip.
Ghost Hunter is in career-best form after upsetting the Arlington ‘Cap at 12-1, but no horse has ever won that local prep and come back to take the Million.
Deauville, just denied when third here as a three-year-old, returns a year older and stronger, giving trainer Aidan O’Brien an excellent chance of a third Million trophy.
Fanciful Angel, the longshot among the three internationals, hopes that his new 1 1/4-mile trip will transform him, but trainer Marco Botti’s record is more compelling than his horse’s.
The Pizza Man aims to recapture his 2015 Million glory, but the Illinois-bred cult favorite will have his work cut out for him to emulate John Henry as the only two-time winners.
Kasaqui warrants respect as last year’s near-misser who enters in fine form, but the seven-year-old must find a bit extra to topple an overall deeper group.
Scottish, scratched Thursday, deserves a line in commemoration: the Godolphin globetrotter would have been a major player, perhaps the value of the race at 8-1, and it’s a pity that he’s sidelined by injury.
Beach Patrol sets the most consistently high standard among the Americans, as last year’s Secretariat hero who’s run well in defeat in five straight Grade 1s, and may find new rider Joel Rosario a galvanizing influence.
Divisidero must answer questions regarding course – specifically whether he’s as good away from Churchill Downs – and the 1 1/4-mile distance, but the dashing closer has plenty of fans in his corner.
Ascend must prove that his Manhattan H. (G1) upset, under a light weight, was no fluke, but he can deploy a potent late kick if timed right.
Mekhtaal has displayed real talent when circumstances suit, and the French shipper rates a serious threat to Deauville with ace Frankie Dettori aboard.