With large, competitive fields filled with potential live longshots, the late Pick 4 this afternoon at Arlington Park is shaping up to be an exciting sequence for bettors. Starting with the American St. Leger (gr. III) and continuing with the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. I), Arlington Million (gr. I), and Pucker Up Stakes (gr. III), this Pick 4 looks like the type of sequence that is guaranteed to produce a solid payoff regardless of who wins each race, so let’s dig in and start handicapping! Free past performances for the races are available from Brisnet.com.
American St. Leger (gr. III)
#2 Taghleeb is the morning line favorite at 2-1 and won the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream this winter, but he hasn’t looked as sharp in his last two starts and might be tailing off after a pretty busy season. In contrast, his Mike Maker-trained stablemate #1 Keystoneforvictory has won four of his last five starts and has thrived since stretching out to 1 1/2 miles, most recently winning the Stars and Stripes Stakes (gr. III) here at Arlington on July 8th, in which he defeated 2015 Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man while earning an eye-catching 108 BRIS speed figure. I don’t think the extra 1 1/2 furlongs of the American St. Leger will be an issue for this up-and-coming four-year-old, who strikes me as a possible single.
#6 Applicator, who finished third by 1 1/2 lengths in the Stars and Stripes, is another to consider, along with #8 Bullards Alley, an excellent long-distance runner that was beaten just a neck in the Singspiel Stakes (gr. III) at Woodbine last time out.
Beverly D. Stakes (gr. I)
This might be the deepest race of the sequence, with no clear favorite and at least a half-dozen runners with a serious chance to win. My narrow preference is for #5 Grand Jete, a British-bred filly that is 3-for-3 since being brought to the United States and transferred to the barn of Chad Brown. She’s unleashed powerful late runs in all three of her victories this year, including a win in the Eatontown Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park, and her morning line odds of 6-1 are appealing.
Her Brown-trained stablemates #1 Dacita and #7 Rainha Da Bateria also warrant respect, as both possess powerful late kicks and routinely earn triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace figures. Dacita in particular is intriguing after being severely compromised by a slow pace in the New York Stakes (gr. II) last time out, where she finished sixth despite running her final quarter-mile in :21.47. #10 War Goddess, runner-up to the European superstar Enable in the Irish Oaks (Ire-I) last time out, and #4 Dona Bruja, who won the Modesty Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington last month, are the other two I would want on my tickets.
Arlington Million (gr. I)
My most confident play of the day is #11 Divisidero. He’s been compromised by slow paces in his three previous attempts at ten furlongs, including this year’s Manhattan Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, in which he ran his final quarter-mile in less than :22 seconds while finishing sixth. I think it’s become increasingly clear that Divisidero doesn’t care for the ultra-firm turf courses at tracks like Belmont Park and Gulfstream Park, so the switch to the slower course at Arlington could be just what he needs. For more insight on Divisidero, you can read my thoughts on the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.
The only other horse I am considering for the Pick 4 is #5 Deauville, who won the Belmont Derby (gr. I) last year before finishing third in the Arlington Million, beaten just a half-length. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Arlington Million twice before, Deauville has kept great company in Europe this year and should give Divisidero a battle.
Pucker Up Stakes (gr. III)
I’ll look to end the sequence with an upset win from #6 Sensitive, who unleashed an eye-catching rally to win a one-mile allowance race at Ellis Park last month in the fast time of 1:33.04 seconds. Visually speaking, Sensitive appeared to be much the best and could be worth a look as she steps up in class and distance, especially with Irad Ortiz Jr. picking up the mount. #4 Journey Home, a two-time stakes winner for trainer Graham Motion, cuts back in distance off an eighth-place finish in the Belmont Oaks (gr. I) and could find the pace flow of this race more favorable to her late-running style.
This is a race where it’s hard to feel confident playing just a couple of horses, with other logical contenders including #2 Fault and #7 Lovely Bernadette, the second- and third-place finishers in the one-mile Ta Wee Stakes at Indiana Grand, and also #3 Lipstick City, a stakes winner at Monmouth Park for trainer Chad Brown.
My strategy for the Pick 4 will be to play two tickets, emphasizing Keystoneforvictory in the American St. Leger and Divisidero in the Arlington Million while covering for the possibility that one or the other might be beaten:
$0.50 Pick 4:
$0.50 Pick 4:
Total cost: $40
Additional insight into the Arlington Million day races, including handicapping thoughts and resources, are available at the TwinSpires.com blog. Enjoy the races!
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