Banking On Upsets in the Arlington Million and Beverly D.

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

The 1 1/4-mile $1 million Arlington Million (G1) and the 1 3/16-mile $500,000 Beverly D. Stakes (G1) long ranked as the highlights of the summer racing season at Arlington Park. When Arlington closed down following the 2021 meet, the two races transitioned to Churchill Downs and were contested over 1 1/8 miles in 2022.

The Arlington Million and Beverly D. have shifted locations again for 2023. This year, they're taking place at Colonial Downs in Virginia, and their distances have been restored to their historical standards.

Both races have drawn competitive fields, so let's dig in and settle on our selections:

Beverly D. (G1)

The morning line odds have established #1 Fev Rover (2-1) as the mare to beat, and her credentials are solid. Last year's Canadian S. (G2) winner kicked off 2023 with a sharp victory in the one-mile Nassau S. (G2) at Woodbine, launching a last-to-first rally over a yielding turf course to beat record-setting 2022 Queen's Plate S. winner Moira by 4 1/4 lengths. Then Fev Rover shipped to Saratoga and ran third in the 1 1/8-mile Diana S. (G1), beaten only half a length against a strong field.

Fev Rover is versatile in terms of running style and has every chance to win the Beverly D., but might #5 Didia (3-1) be just as likely a winner at better odds? The Argentinean-bred mare won her first four U.S. starts, including the 1 1/8-mile Modesty S. (G3) at Churchill Downs, and exits a deceptively strong runner-up finish in the 1 1/4-mile New York S. (G1) at Belmont Park.

In the New York, Didia settled as many as four lengths behind pedestrian fractions of :24.56, :50.26, and 1:15.29 before closing 2 3/4 lengths through a final quarter-mile timed in :23.15 to come up three-quarters of a length short against gate-to-wire winner Marketsegmentation. The third-place finisher, McKulick, returned to win the Glens Falls S. (G2) at Saratoga.

There's another positive in Didia's corner—she's 2-for-2 at Colonial Downs. Last year, she won a $75,000 allowance optional claimer and the Old Nelson S. racing 1 1/16 miles on grass at Colonial. Returning to this Virginia oval should suit Didia just fine, and I'm willing to bet she can spring a mild surprise against Fev Rover.

Arlington Million (G1)

The 11-horse Arlington Million field is stacked from top to bottom with talented horses. Truthfully, you can make a case for anyone to visit the winner's circle.

There's a good chance an upset is in the offing. Morning line favorite #4 Atone (7-2) won the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) during the winter, but hasn't hit the board in two starts since, including when fifth in the Dinner Party S. (G3) behind #2 Never Explain (6-1). Morning line second choice #5 Rockemperor (5-1) upset the 2021 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), but since winning the 2022 Bowling Green S. (G2) he's missed the trifecta in four straight starts, including both his runs in 2023.

Let's try to beat the favorites with #8 Catnip (8-1). Since being gelded, the four-year-old son of Kitten's Joy has rattled off three wins and a second from four starts. His three victories culminated with a deceptively strong triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Monmouth S. (G3) at Monmouth Park, in which he got shuffled back in traffic before re-rallying gamely to beat Never Explain by half a length.

Catnip's win streak came to an end in the 1 3/8-mile United Nations S. (G1) at Monmouth last month, but he didn't run a bad race by any means. After tracking a runaway leader from second place, Catnip rallied to lead in midstretch, only to get caught in the final furlong by 10-time stakes winner Therapist.

It's possible the 1 3/8-mile distance was a bit too long for Catnip, but he was only beaten 1 1/2 lengths and finished three-quarters of a length ahead of 2023 Man o' War S. (G1) winner Red Knight, a seven-time stakes winner with three graded wins to his credit since September 2022.

Cutting back to 1 1/4 miles should suit Catnip just fine. He has tactical speed and figures to sit a favorable trip stalking #7 Strong Quality (12-1), a live longshot after finishing a pacesetting fifth against two-time Grade 1 winner Up to the Mark in the 1 1/4-mile Manhattan S. (G1) last time out. If Catnip times his homestretch pounce just right, he can post an 8-1 upset in the Arlington Million.

Now it's your turn! Who do you like in the Arlington Million and Beverly D.?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite.

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