Tom LaMarra and I previewed the Arlington Classic Stakes (G3) on That Handicapping Show this week. The first leg of Arlington's excellent 3yo summer turf series, the Classic drew a competitive, full field of 12. As perhaps the best betting race of the weekend, I thought it deserved a full breakdown.
They are going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, and given the forecast in Arlington Heights, something less than a firm turf appears likely. The Classic is carded as Race 10 on Saturday (5:38 post Central Time).
From the rail out:
1 Brown Almighty (12-1 ML odds) was my pick on the show Thursday morning (before the morning line came out) when I said I liked him at 5-1 or more. Well, I love him at double digits, and here is why. He has tactical speed (very valuable at Arlington), he is gritty as they come, and he fits at this class level. Watch how much heart he shows finishing a troubled third in the Bourbon Stakes (G3) (#8, gets slammed mid-stretch) or when 4th in his most recent race, the Transylvania Stakes (G3) (#2, choked back early). Hoping he can work out a clean, pace pressing/stalking trip and get first run on the closers.
2 Gefest (30-1) looked good wiring a NW1X field on Keeneland's Polytrack going 1 1/8 miles, and he is turf-bred. Trainer Gennadi Dorochenko pops a big-priced winner once every few moons. Will probably be sent from this post and there isn't a ton of speed in this race. Not the worst longshot stab, but he will need to keep improving to hit the board.
3 Bells Big Bernie (30-1) is unlikely to make an impact here.
4 Dorsett (20-1) finished behind Gefest last time, but that was on the Polytrack. Dorsett moves better on turf, and he holds a little longshot appeal off the two-back maiden score. Trip will be paramount (James Graham up) for him to hit the board.
5 Fordubai (9-2) looks like one of the favorites on paper, but on video he did not impress me. He is all over the track in a couple of his key performances, including his 2nd in the Illinois Derby (G3), and his grinding style is not my favorite on this course. Likely underlay for me.
6 Yorkshire Icon (GB) (15-1) woke up last time in a big way when he beat older horses in a NW1X at Arlington. His :23-1 final quarter was excellent on a yielding surface, although the read is slightly complicated by his amazing rail trip. He is unlikely to experience zero ground loss this time, but I'd still give him a look if the track is on the soft side. Improving.
7 General Election (5-1) comes off a solid 2nd-place finish behind Winning Cause (poly monster) in the Lexington Stakes (G3). His pedigree and stride look adaptable to turf, and my only fault with him is a likely low price. He got the run of the race when winning the Battaglia (I thought Giant Finish was best that day), and was nowhere in the Spiral. Dangerous, but I will bet against at the ML.
8 Admiral Kitten (3-1 ML) has the best last-race closing time (:28-3) when he was second to Noble Tune in the American Turf (G2). That performance rightfully earned him ML favorite status. Expect him to come running strongly late. Solid profile and a 'use' for me in the vertical exotics.
9 Procurement (4-1) shipped to Arlington a few weeks after his win vs. a short field in the La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita. I have liked this horse for a while and picked him previously in the Locksmith analysis, but I will bet against him today at a short price. SoCal shippers often struggle when Arlington is less than firm, and this one has that daisy cutter stride that does best on the harder surfaces out west.
10 Whiskey Bravo (20-1) was much the best winning a NW1X on the turf at Evangeline but he did not look like a very efficient mover. Will need to improve to compete here.
11 Bobo (20-1) is likely to be sent from this post. His maiden win on the downhill vs. Cal-breds was ok. I don't view him as a win contender.
12 Bambazonki (8-1) is better than his 6th-place finish in the Transylvania, so the prospect of value is here on this Chris Block trainee. However the wide post plus rider EE Perez does not look like a winning combination to me. Use underneath.