Handicapping the Arlington Million

World Approval winning 2015 G3 Saranac at Saratoga credit Adam Mooshian/NYRA
World Approval winning 2015 G3 Saranac at Saratoga (Photo: Adam Mooshian/NYRA)

Horse racing tips for this weekend’s big event is here. When the Arlington Million was inaugurated back in 1981, it was the legendary Willie Shoemaker riding, the incomparable John Henry who became the race’s first winner. Through the years, some of the best middle-distance turf horses in the world have contested this race, giving it status as one of the elite contests on the U.S. racing calendar.

This year’s Arlington Million will be run on August 13, 2016. The race will be contested by 3-year olds or over, going 1 1/4 miles on turf at Arlington Racecourse. The purse remains $1,000,000 with weights assigned under allowance conditions by age. As usual, the field of 13 shows a nice mix of U.S. based horses and invaders from Europe, Canada and South America. Here’s a quick rundown of the field by post position. This one is going to be interesting with such an evenly matched field.

#1 – Danish Dynaformer – Racing mostly in Canada, seems a cut below with only 1 Grade 3 win to his credit.

#2 – Dubai Sky – Showed immense talent as a 2 and 3-year old before going to sidelines for 14 months with an injury. Not impressed by comeback effort.

#3 – Greengrassofyoning – Won the Stars and Stripes prep for this race, but he has an allowance resume that doesn’t stack up.

#4 – Pumpkin Rumble – Would be a shocker for a horse that has never won a stakes race of any kind.

#5 – The Pizza Man – Last year’s winner is back with similar form. A little off form in three races this year, but might be ready for a corker.

#6 – Kasaqui – Argentinian comes in with decent form and a Grade III win on this course last out in the Arlington Handicap. Still seems a cut below the best.

#7 – Take the Stand – Another Argentinian that is coming off a 4.5 month layoff. No Thanks.

#8 – Decorated Knight – English invader has decent recent form and connects, but at the Group 3 level. Would need big improvement.

#9 – Mondialiste – Winner of last year’s Woodbine Mile and ran 2nd in BC Mile to superstar Tepin. 2016 has been lean and seems better suited for shorter distances.

#10 – Wake Forest – German bred won the Grade I Man O War this spring and remains in good form. Contender.

#11 – World Approval – After a decent 3-year old season, this gray gelding has come back even better this season. Coming off a big win over some of these in the Grade I United Nations.

#12 – Tryster – Godolphin home-bred looked solid this spring in Dubai with Group 1 win and a nice 3rd in the Dubai Turf on World Cup day. Only wins have been at Meyden or on artificial surfaces. Hmmm.

#13 – Deauville – From elite Eurpean connections, including trainer Aidan O’Brien, former winner of this race. Might be best of Euros, but win in Grade I Belmont Derby looked strange.

Handicapping the race – Admittedly, this race looks wide open. It might be a good time to try out one of the available handicapping products which might give you a better edge than handicapping this race by yourself. The tendency would be to look for some real wagering value, which might be available if The Pizza Man gets over-bet. He certainly has a big shot and he loves this turf with 10 wins in 14 tries. Still, his form doesn’t look quite right. Most concerning was a poor run in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Handicap followed by 4+ months on the bench.

Tryster would certainly seem to have the talent for the race after being the 2nd betting choice in the aforementioned Dubai Turf. However, a subsequent poor run in the Group 1 Prince of Wale’s at Ascot summons the notion he might have been flattered by the Meydan turf course. As a 3-year old, Deauville would have to step up while facing older for the first time from a bad post. The hope is all these horses get over-bet because World Approval is a standout.

World Approval showed solid form as a 3-year old, winning the Grade III Saranac and Grade III American Derby on this turf course. After five months off, he returned to easily win a high-priced optional claimer. In the Grade II Muniz Memorial, he’s 3-wide on both turns, 5-wide into the stretch and gets beat a length by Take the Stand. In the subsequent Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill on Derby Day, he prompted a wicked pace of 46.1/1:10.4 only to be nailed at the wire by a talented Divisidero. It’s worth noting that all the others in the first flight disappeared. He came back and ran huge in the Grade I Manhattan, only to be beaten by Flintshire, the best turfer in the world. Then came his corker in the United Nations.

The Pick: World Approval looks like a standout. 4-1 would be a gift and is likely to happen. For exactas and trifectas, include 5, 9, 10, 12, 13.

Handicapper John Hawthorne is proud to contribute his analysis of these Domestic horse races. Currently living overseas, John likes to stay in touch with websites like Racingdudes.com and handicap the occasional American race. His other work includes previewing Australian based horse racing carnivals and providing free Australian horse racing tips to a number of online publications.

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