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Blog - GAMBLING

Grandeur wins the 2012 Hollywood Turf Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase

The 31st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Arlington Million brings together a quality field of 13 horses, with nearly half the field having made their most recent starts in other countries. Nine of the runners have earned group or graded stakes victories in their careers, including last year's Million winner Little Mike, who makes his second start following more than three months off after a trip to Dubai to compete in a pair of Group 1 stakes. Little Mike ended his 2012 campaign with victory in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf, but is winless in three races this year. In last year's Million, Little Mike led from the start to the finish in a tremendous effort, but this year he may have company on the front end as Nates Mineshaft has the same "early" running style. Nates Mineshaft got back into the winner's circle last month after a three-race drought. Last year, Nates Mineshaft  won four races in a row, including the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, so he has proven he fits against top company as well. Among the contingent shipping from other countries, Grandeur is no stranger to U.S. soil as won the Grade 2 Twilight Derby and Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup last fall before returning to England. Indy Point may also have a slight edge on the foreign runners who are racing here for the first time, as he returned from seven months off late last month to win the Wickerr Stakes on the turf. Last year, Indy Point put together back-to-back wins in Group 1 stakes in his native Argentina. The Apache, trained by world renowned trainer Michael de Kock, finished fourth last month in the Group 1 York Stakes in England (in which Grandeur was second) and finished second in a pair of Group 1 stakes prior to that, so he too fits at the level. Hunter's Light carries the blue Godolphin silks of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai and is another proven at the 1 ¼-mile distance and top level, having won the Group 1 Premio Roma GBI Racing Stakes in Italy last fall. Real Solution makes his third start in the U.S. since emigrating from Italy and may be improving off a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap in June. Rahystrada finished third in last year's Million and enters the race following victory in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap on this course last month.  Mull of Killough and Guest of Honour both may need only slight improvement to be competitive in this field following second- and third-place finishes, respectively, last month in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes. The field also includes Finnegans Wake, Side Glance and Temeraine.

Main Contenders:

Grandeur shipped over from England to Southern California to compete in three important year-end stakes races and was prominent in all of them. Winning the Twilight Derby in his North American debut last November and earning a career-best 115 Equibase Speed Figure, Grandeur then finished second in the Hollywood Derby before facing older horses and winning the Hollywood Turf Cup, defeating top turf stars Interaction and Optimizer in the process. Rested seven months, Grandeur probably began 2013 with the Million in mind, first finishing fourth and then narrowly missing the victory last month in the York Stakes with a 120 Equibase Speed Figure. Jockey William Buick was the one that rode Grandeur to victory in his U.S. debut last fall and returns across the pond to ride him again in the Million, adding to the possibility that Grandeur will once again show a tremendous late kick to win the race.

Indy Point was nothing short of sensational in his native Argentina, winning five of 12 races and never finishing worse than third. After winning two Group 1 stakes in a row last fall, including one at the same 1 ¼-mile distance on turf as the Million, Indy Point faced older horses in December and wasn't disgraced one bit when second of 22 in the Carlos Pellegrini, the premier race in South America. Rested seven months and turned over to Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, Indy Point returned last month as if he had never been away. He won the Wickerr Stakes impressively with a 111 Equibase Speed Figure, just slightly lower than the career-best 113 figure earned last year when winning the Argentine Derby. With improving to do in his second start off a long layoff and with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens - aboard for victory last month - in the saddle again, Indy Point should have a strong impact in the outcome of this year's Arlington Million.

INDY POINT WINS 2013 WICKERR STAKES

million2 Inside

Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates

The Apache has won seven times in his career and has earned nearly $1.5 million, including runner-up efforts in both the Jebel Hatta Stakes and Dubai Duty Free Stakes, earning a 123 Equibase Speed Figure in the latter race. Most recently, following four months off, The Apache finished fourth in the York Stakes (in which Grandeur was second) in a decent effort. A Group 1 stakes winner in his native South Africa, The Apache is reunited with jockey Christophe Soumillon, who guided him to victory in the Al Rashidiya Stakes in January and it would only take slight improvement off his most recent effort for this horse to be in the thick of the action at the finish in this race.

Hunter's Light proved his mettle last year when victorious in the Premio Roma in Italy at the distance of the Million and with a career-best 118 Equibase Speed Figure, the first of three straight graded stakes wins on two continents. In his most recent effort in a Group 1 race in Germany, Hunter's Light disappointed when third as the favorite, but he has come back from defeats in the past to run big races. Considering he has won nine times and is approaching a million dollars in earnings, it is not out of the question that Hunter's Light could return to Grade 1 stakes-winning form. 

The rest of the Million field (with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Finnegan's Wake (112), Guest of Honour (112), Little Mike (123), Mull of Killough (119), Nate's Mineshaft (121), Rahystrada (115), Real Solution (118), Side Glance (121) and Temeraine (108).

My Selections:

Grandeur

Indy Point

The Apache

Hunter's Light

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

Odds

1

Real Solution (PA)

Alan Garcia

Chad Brown

10-1

2

Finnegans Wake (KY)

Robby Albarado

Dale Romans

30-1

3

Hunter's Light (IRE)

Ryan Moore

Saeed Bin Suroor

8-1

4

Nates Mineshaft (KY)

E.T. Baird

Anne Smith

30-1

5

Temeraine (KY)

Eddie Castro

Tom Proctor

30-1

6

Side Glance (GB)

Jamie Spencer

Andrew Balding

12-1

7

Indy Point (ARG)

Gary Stevens

Richard Mandella

9-2

8

Mull of Killough (IRE)

Joseph O'Brien

Jane Chapple-Hyam

12-1

9

Guest of Honour (IRE)

Martin Haley

Marco Botti

15-1

10

The Apache (SAF)

Christophe Soumillion

Mike de Kock

15-1

11

Little Mike (FL)

Joel Rosario

Dale Romans

5-1

12

Rahystrada (KY)

Rosie Napravnik

Byron Hughes

20-1

13

Grandeur (IRE)

William Buick

Jeremy Noseda

7-2

 

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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