With all the Big Brown and Curlin hoopla over the past week or so, we've gotten away from the Breeders' Cup Challenge. Let's get back into now, and what better time to do it then on one of my favorite days - the International Festival of Racing. The Beverly D. and the Arlington Million are "Win and You're In" events, and both look like terrific races.
This looks like the better betting race of the two, with four horses coming off graded stakes wins and a couple of formidable Europeans to consider. There are also three millionaires in the field.
Pace should not be an issue here, as both Dreaming of Anna and Rosinka should ensure some pretty brisk fractions. I like both of them, especially because of their connections, but taking top prize here will be asking a lot. Mauarlakana is one of my favorite female turfers out there and she will be a handful here. She has been nearly perfect this year and the race should set up just fine for her from a pace standpoint. I'm going to pass on Precious Kitten, both because of her short odds and the fact that she hasn't been tested as much as some of the others this year. That being said, it wouldn't shock me if she won, especially after that 108 Beyer last out. Frankel and Bejarano are tough to bet against right now. Communique must be considered because she is an improving filly and gets the services of Arlington's leading rider, Rene Douglas. The two European-based fillies, Toque de Queda and Cicerole, have done their best work at a mile, so distance could be an issue.
It's taking every fiber of my being not to go with Mauralakana here. Three straight Beyers over 100 and four of five in the winner's circle this year. This is a special horse who can explode down the stretch. But she will probably be 5/2 or less, so I am going to reluctantly pass and go for a price. The price horses I considered most seriously were Rosinka and Cicerole. Both should be 7/1 or more and are in good form. In the end, I went with Rosinka. My hope is that she won't get in a speed duel with Dreaming of Anna, but rather she will press the pace and take over coming off the turn - much like she did in the Glenn Falls Handicap. Here's a 5-year-old who might be in the best form of her career and is very consistent. She hasn't been off the board in her last eight tries. In her final race as a 4-year-old she just missed against Lahudood in the grade I Flower Bowl. We all know what Lahudood did after that. This will certainly be the toughest spot of Rosinka's career and it will take her best. But I have some catching up to do in this contest and I need to take a shot.
If you watched this week's edition of That Handicapping Show, you know that I really like Archipenko. He has won group I or II races on three different continents this year and his only loss since late February came in the Dubai Duty Free by a half-length. Many believe that race was the toughest and deepest turf race in the world this year. If you haven't seen the replay, here it is. He comes flying late to get third.
Archipenko is trained by Michael de Kock, who took over from Aidan O'Brien early this year. A South African, de Kock is one of the most respected trainers in the world. The addition of blinkers is one of the reasons he gave for Archipenko's drastic turnaround from the second half of his 3-year-old campaign. Whatever the reason, Archipenko will be extremely tough to beat here. He'll get regular jockey Kevin Shea, who flies in from South Africa. You also can't dismiss O'Brien's horse, Mount Nelson. He also looked very impressive while winning the Coral-Eclipse last month in England. Here is the video. O'Brien won the Million in 2005 with Powerscourt. Actually Powerscourt won in 2004 as well, but was disqualified and placed fourth. I like Stream Cat too, an improving horse who won the Arlington Handicap by four lengths despite a nine-month layoff. He was only a length back in last year's Million. Einstein is always tough, but I'm guessing he takes a step back here. Sudan, who I also considered, was scratched today.
Archipenko looks too tough for me to pass up here. Some say he might be one of the best turf horses in the world. His price will be short, but since I went with Rosinka in the Beverly D., I can afford to take some chalk here.
**For the record, I am taking Plan to upset Tizdejavu in the Secretariat. Good luck to everyone!!