A field of nine 3-year-olds passed the entry box for Saturday’s 40th running of the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes to be contested at 1¼ miles over the world-renowned Arlington International Racecourse turf course. One of three Grade I races on Saturday’s International Festival of Racing program, the Secretariat is the first leg of a $100,000 guaranteed Festival Pick-3 that includes the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes and ends with the Grade I Arlington Million
Pace Scenario – Very Slow
Speed: #3 Scissors and Tape
Stalkers: #2 American Patriot, #7 Surgical Strike
Closers: #1 Cherry Wine, #4 One Mean Man, #5 Cordon, #6 Oscar Nominated, #8 Long Island Sound, #9 Beach Patrol
On paper this looks like it has the makings of a pace that will be extremely slow. Only Scissors and Tape is a true speed horse, and he’s the longest shot on the board so you would imagine he will be cheap speed. Expect this group to be tightly bunched throughout. I could see someone changing tactics in this race to try to take advantage of this complete lack of early speed. Closers could be trouble.
Top Pick: #2 American Patriot
This horse just screams “Pletcher Progression” as he’s ran two huge races in a row and is now ready for a big time Grade 1 race. He almost reminds me of Comfort last week who ran in the Whitney Stakes and finished second to Frosted. Lucky for American Patriot there’s not a “Frosted type” horse in this field today. Considering the slow pace that is likely for this race American Patriot can sit close and get the jump on his main rivals. Really like him and his price in this spot.
Other Likely Winners: #7 Surgical Strike, #9 Beach Patrol
Both of these horses are ones that I strongly considered making my top pick, and obviously are must uses on your multi race tickets. Beach Patrol was very poor two races back in the Penn Mile, but rebounded to finish a solid third last time out in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby. Surgical Strike wasn’t far behind him in that race, and I think the added distance of today’s race will be to the liking of both of these horses.
Exotic Plays: #8 Long Island Sound
His American debut wasn’t great last time out when he finished sixth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, and honestly I don’t see any reason to back him at a short price today based on that effort. It looked to me like he didn’t handle the track very well in that race as well so he has some proving to do today.
Party Crashers: #4 One Mean Man
There is no doubt he will have to improve today, but he comes into today with a few factors on his side. He rides a two race win streak heading into this class test, and he does have a win over this track as last time out he won the Grade 3 American Derby. That race wasn’t nearly as strong as this one, but he did at least show a pretty nice turn of foot. If he can progress again in this race he stands a chance at a decent price.
Throw Outs: #1 Cherry Wine, #3 Scissors and Tape, #5 Cordon, #6 Oscar Nominated
Never have been much of a fan of any horse I have listed here, including Cherry Wine and Oscar Nominated who have had success this year. It seems like they are grasping for straws with Cherry Wine, and Oscar Nominated is just not very fast. Would be shocked if anyone from this group made an impact.
Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Joseph Allen’s Long Island Sound will command his share of wagering support despite being in search of his first stakes win in the Secretariat. The Aidan O’Brien trainee made his North American debut in last month’s Grade I Belmont Derby where he finished sixth, beaten 2¼ lengths by Arlington Million contender Deauville (IRE). The Secretariat will mark just the sixth career start for the son of War Front who opened his career with three consecutive wins in Ireland. Seamie Heffernan will pick up the mount from post eight.
Beach Patrol, who races for James Covello, Sheep Pond Partners and Head of Plains Partners, will also be seeking his first career stakes win on Saturday. Third, three-quarters of a length in front of Long Island Sound, in the Belmont Derby, the son of Lemon Drop Kid has improved at longer distances and has proven competitive with graded stakes company. Trainer Chad Brown has given the call to Florent Geroux from the outside post nine.
Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson’s Surgical Strike split Beach Patrol and Long Island Sound in the Belmont Derby, crossing the wire fifth in that event at the same distance as the Secretariat. Prior to that effort, he was victorious in is lone start over the Arlington turf course in the Grade III Arlington Classic in May. The Ben Colebrook-trained son of Red Giant has been facing some of the best 3-year-old turfers in the country this season and will be ridden Saturday by Flavien Prat from post seven.
Oscar Nominated and One Mean Man will take their continuing rivalry to the Grade I level for the first time in what will be their fifth career meeting. The pair have run one-two in three different stakes events, with One Mean Man victorious in two of those races.
One Mean Man, owned by L. T. B. Inc. and Hillerich Racing, proved best by a half-length margin in last month’s Grade III American Derby, earning his second career stakes win and first graded stakes score in the process. The son of Mizzen Mast is trained by Bernie Flint and is the most experienced member of the Secretariat cast, scheduled to make his 14th start on Saturday. Robby Albarado, aboard for One Mean Man’s last two wins, retains the mount from post four.
Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated, a winner over One Mean Man in the Black Gold Overnight Stakes in February at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, went on to win the Grade III Spiral Stakes before finishing 17th in this year’s Grade I Kentucky Derby for trainer Mike Maker. Corey Lanerie has the return call from post six. The same connections also entered Scissors and Tape who will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan from post three.
William Pacella, Frank Jones, Jr., and Frank Shoop’s Cherry Wine will be returning to the turf for the first time since his juvenile campaign in the Secretariat. His efforts early in the year earned him spots in both the Grade I Preakness Stakes and the Grade I Belmont Stakes, and the son of Paddy O’Prado earned a Classic placing when second in the Preakness. The Dale Romans trainee exits a flat try in the Grade II Indiana Derby and will be ridden by Mike Smith from the rail.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out WinStar Farm’s American Patriot off a win in last month’s Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park. The son of War Front has won three of his six career starts and earned his first stakes victory in the Kent. William Buick has been named to ride from post two.
Completing the field is Glockenburg, LLC’s recent local maiden winner Cordon, who will step up to try Grade I company in his third lifetime start for trainer Pavel Vashchenko. Carlos Marquez, Jr. will ride from post five.