The Secretariat Stakes (G1) will be the first of Arlington’s three Grade 1 races run on the loaded Saturday, August 10 Arlington Million Day card. The Secretariat for three-year-olds has been shortened this year and will be run at one mile with a purse of $500,000. The race drew a nine-horse field this year and unlike the Arlington Million (G1) and Beverly D. Stakes (G1) which will both feature heavy favorites, the Secretariat looks like a wide-open field that is up for grabs. Any of the nine horses could win. The good-sized field and lack of a single standout favorite will make the Secretariat an excellent betting race.
The Secretariat is such a wide-open race that you easily could find yourself hitting the all-button in your multi-race wagers, especially if you plan on singling in other legs of the Pick 5, Pick 4 and Pick 3 in the Beverly D. and Secretariat. If you are not so inclined to use “all” in this race, then Chad Brown seems like a logical place to start narrowing down the field with Fog of War looking like the real deal, and his Valid Point keeping Javier Castellano aboard. Of the two foreign Aidan O’Brien options, Never No More seems to have the most upside. The final horse to use in your exotics would be longshot Clint Maroon, because it is still far too early to give up on that horse based on excuses in the recent losses.
$2 Exacta Box 1, 3, 6, 7 = $24
$1 Trifecta Box 1, 3, 6, 7 = $24
Here’s a brief look at this year’s Secretariat field:
CLINT MAROON (#1) (20-1) may be the forgotten contender in the race at 20-1 on the morning-line, and has enough tactical speed to be in the thick of the race throughout for new trainer Wayne Catalano. Was riding high on a three-race winning streak earlier this year and the bandwagon has been prematurely abandoned after two straight losses, both times with excuses. Tired at 1 1/8 miles two races ago in the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) and then got off to a bad start last time which prevented him from flashing any early speed en route to a loss in the Manilla. Now gets back to one mile, which is probably his best distance, and just needs a clean trip to be speed from the rail with a definite upset chance.
VAN BEETHOVEN (#2) (8-1) has been keeping good company coming out of three straight European Grade 1 races, but was not competitive in any of those spots and now will try his fourth different country in four races for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Form perhaps has tailed off this year, or else he’s just plain not suited for this class level. Very firm turf is expected Saturday, and it’s unclear if that’s what he prefers.
NEVER NO MORE (#3) (6-1) is the more lightly-raced but up-and-coming Aidan O’Brien entrant in this race, and has looked good on the track since arriving at Arlington. Comes out of back-to-back wins and wins in three of his last four, all in Ireland and adds first-time Lasix for this U.S. debut. Never been in this tough and gets the class test here, but O’Brien sees enough in this colt to ship him across the pond and puts go-to rider Ryan Moore aboard. Guy feeling says it would an extreme mistake to overlook and/or underestimate this guy. Should be stalking the pace from midpack and based on his running style he may even improve with the stretch to this one-mile distance.
THE LAST ZIP (#4) (6-1) nearly made the successful leap from maiden winner to stakes winner last time out when finishing in a dead-heat for second in a three-way win photo in the local prep race the American Derby (G3). Had actually run faster figures in the Belmont maiden win at one mile two races ago, so we’ll see if the slight cutback in distance moves him up. Nevertheless, this assignment will be considerably tougher than in the prep race last time, and he had every chance in the stretch to get the job done last time and didn’t.
RY’S THE GUY (#5) (15-1) had been knocking around the maiden ranks for several tries until finally graduating in the slop at Churchill Downs two races ago, but then looked like a completely new horse last time out when switching surfaces to the turf for the first time and easily beating Churchill allowance horses in a grass mile with a speed figure that is amongst the highest among this field. Quickly makes the jump not only up into a stakes, but into a Grade 1 stakes race today, but this horse appears to be coming around quickly now and three-year-olds that suddenly start getting good at this time of the year are always dangerous, at least for the exotics.
FOG OF WAR (#6) (3-1) invades from New York for trainer Chad Brown and actually ran his best race in defeat last time out when second d in Belmont’s Manilla Stakes behind the tour-de-force career turf debut victory performance of Win Win Win that day. This horse finished second, a head ahead of third-place finisher Casa Creed, who came back to win the Hall of Fame stakes (G2) at Saratoga in his next outing. Irad Ortiz picks up the mount. You’ve gotta like how the improvement last time out seemed to coincide with the addition of first-time blinkers, which apparently moved this horse up several notches. Tough to go against anything Chad Brown sends out in these races, and this horse certainly is among the ones to beat.
VALID POINT (#7) (5-1) also goes out for all-world trainer Chad Brown, which adds to the appeal, as it does with Fog of War. Jockey Javier Castellano had been riding both Chad Brown horses in their prior races, and he evidently chooses to stay aboard this horse while Ortiz goes to the stablemate. Valid Point has started his career in style with two wins in two races, both times as the well-bet favorite. Untried and untested so far against stakes competition, but it would be no surprise if this horse is bound to win a stakes, today and/or in the future.
FARAWAY KITTEN (#8) (9-2) is a winner of two stakes in a row for Mike Maker, including the $200k Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury and the local prep for this in the American Derby (G3) at Arlington. He was available for a $50k claiming tag as recently as four races ago, and now he’s a multiple stakes winner with a realistic shot in a Grade 1. Beat some of these contenders in a close finish last time when up late in the American Derby, and has been able to close in time to win at a mile despite a tough trip when blocked against some solid horses. John Velazquez sees enough to pick up the mount.
CRAFTY DADDY (#9) (5-1) is another of the horses in here that were involved in the close three-way finish in the American Derby (G3) when dead heating with The Last Zip just a neck behind Faraway Kitten. The loss in the American Derby ended his three-race winning streak including races at Fair Grounds, Keeneland, and Churchill, but it didn’t end his stretch of good efforts because he just missed. Draws outside again (post 9 today, post 10 last time), but is one of several in this race with a legit chance.
PHOTO: Fog of War (c) WEG/Michael Burns Photography