Exacta box of the week: Arlington Million, August 10

August 8th, 2019

Arlington Million four-horse exacta box

The biggest day of turf racing at Arlington International always draws a crowd and frequently features European flare. Let's rise to the occasion and find four horses to box in the exacta for the Arlington Million (G1).

Bricks and Mortar could be vulnerable

With a pre-race sale of stud rights to Japanese bloodstock leaders Shadai Farm, Bricks and Mortar's connections are not waiting for a victory to grow the stallion's value, and that raises some questions.

But the biggest question is form. The Bricks and Mortar's talent obviously is strong, with three grade 1 victories and a grade 2 score in 2019, but could he be tiring?

Robert Bruce back to defend his title

I believe trainer Chad Brown will have Robert Bruce in a much better position to win, and as a previous Million winner, the Chilean-bred is worthy of respect. The dark bay by Fast Company seems to have been pointed toward this race. He is the lesser of the two contenders by accomplishments on paper and public perception. Expect that to lead to value, but only by a sliver.

Though Robert Bruce was beaten by 1 1/2 lengths last time out by his stablemate Bricks and Mortar, stringing a five-race run of wins is tough, and I question Bricks and Mortar’s potential fitness level with such a strong first half of the year. A regression could be looming.

Hunting Horn flies in after facing Enable

Trainer Aidan O’Brien is a master craftsman at prepping his runners to be competitive in the United States on turf, but his not-so-secret weapon is world-class jockey Ryan Moore aboard Hunting Horn. Can I say the same about sneaky unknown Intellogent? No, even though he has a strong guide aboard in Florent Geroux.

Does Bandua merit home-turf respect?

Bandua was provided 6-1 morning-line odds for the Million after his win in the August 13 Arlington Handicap (G3), an official prep for the million-dollar race.

Anything else to consider?

It's tough to eliminate horses for this wager, but I'd recommend paddock watching on race day. Visual form indicators can really hint whose head is in the game. It's entirely possible I will switch out two horses come post-parade time.

Watch O’Brien trainee Magic Wand and Fabrice Chappet’s runner Intellogent. Both are contenders who may not respond well to shipping.

Arlington International, Race 11, four-horse exacta plays

$1 exacta box: #1 Robert Bruce, #5 Hunting Horn, #10 Bandua, #3 Bricks and Mortar = $12

or for the thrill seeker…

$1 exacta box: #1 Robert Bruce, #5 Hunting Horn, #2 Magic Wand, #9 Intellogent = $12

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