As always, Arlington Park has put together a solid field for the latest running of the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Arlington Million XXXVI Stakes. The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” for the Longines Turf, and it is clear that the winner will have certainly earned their spot into the big event. The field’s headliner is Oscar Performance, who won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes here last year. He returns with just one 2018 start under his belt, but it may have been one of the best performances of his career, as he dominated the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park.
The winner of the Arlington Million will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
The Grade 1 Arlington Million will be the feature race on Saturday while also sharing the card with the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes, which is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. The card will also feature other stakes races, including the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue next Saturday with the Grade 1 Pacific Classic and the Grade 1 Del Mar Handicap, both at Del Mar. The Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while the Del Mar Handicap is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf.
The full field from the rail out: Circus Couture, Spring Quality, Almanaar, Divisidero, Century Dream, Catcho En Die, Twenty Four Seven, Money Multiplier, Deauville, Robert Bruce, and Oscar Performance.
#3 Almanaar – There is no doubt that this horse is very talented; however, he is also a bit of a mystery. He won the 2017 edition of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap over last year’s Arlington Million winner, Beach Patrol, but we did not see him again for over a year. He finally returned last time out to win an allowance race at Belmont Park on June 8, and now he goes straight to this very difficult race as one of three entries from trainer Chad Brown. If he is ready to go, then he will be ultra-tough here.
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#11 Oscar Performance – He shipped to Arlington Park last year and won the Secretariat as a 3-year-old, which completed a three-race winning streak that also included the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge Stakes. He has just one start under his belt in 2018, but it was his huge effort in the Poker, which he took by 1 1/2 lengths. If he can repeat that sort of effort, then he will be tough to beat here.
#9 Deauville – This Aidan O’Brien trainee is back at Arlington for the third straight year. He was third in last year’s Arlington Million, coming up 3/4 of a length short, and two years ago, he was third in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes over this track. The third time could be the charm for him and he is coming into the race in good form after finishing second in an overseas stakes last out.
#4 Divisidero – The highly-classy Divisidero is enters this one after winning the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap last time out. That was only his third race of 2018 and his first win of the season, but he just missed in his other two starts. This horse always runs well, no matter where they spot him, and this should be no different. He is no stranger to tough Grade 1 events, having won them twice. [UPDATE: Divisidero will reportedly run in Saturday’s Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga]
#8 Money Multiplier – Brown can run this horse anywhere and know that he will show up with a big effort. Two races back, he won the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes for the second straight year, then finished second in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes last time out while losing to stablemate Funtastic. He will not be intimidated by this sort of company.
#2 Spring Quality – Trainer Graham Motion always must be respected in big-time turf races. There is no better example of this than last time out when this horse won the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park over a solid field at double-digit odds. He can make it two in a row here with a similar performance, but he must do it against another very solid field. In the Manhattan, he dropped way off the lead before closing with a furious rally, and that will likely be the strategy once again here. [UPDATE: According to Arlington Park, Spring Quality will scratch after not traveling well from his Fair Hill Training Center base in Maryland.]
#10 Robert Bruce – The third Brown-trained entry, he won his American debut impressively two races back in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont Park. After that win, he jumped straight into the deep end of the pool in the Manhattan, where he was only beaten by a length while finishing sixth. He had a bit of a rough trip in that race, which could lead to an improvement in his second start against Grade 1 company. Brown will have him ready.
#5 Century Dream – This Irish-bred runner will make his American debut after an impressive career so far overseas. He has won multiple stakes in 2018 and was fourth in the very prestigious Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes two races back, losing by only 3/4 of a length while beating the highly-regarded American horse Yoshida. If he takes to the American style of racing, then he will be tough in this spot.
#6 Catcho En Die – He picked up a big win last time out in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes, a local prep for this event, after he was able to jump out to the early lead and not let any of his challengers by in the stretch. He jumps back up to challenge Grade 1 company once again after a win that likely boosted his confidence.
#7 Twenty Four Seven – This gelding had won three straight before finishing sixth last time out in the Arlington Handicap. However, he was only beaten 2 lengths in that spot, and trainer Roger Brueggemann believes that this horse deserves another shot against top competition.
#1 Circus Couture – This veteran Irish-bred horse will be making his first appearance stateside after racking up 9 wins in 30 starts overseas. He kicked off his 2018 season with a win going 7 furlongs at Capannelle but has since lost four in a row. However, he’s hit the board in 25 of his 30 career starts and could play a big factor if he adjusts to the American style of racing.