Horse Racing: Previews of the 2014 Arlington Million and 2014 Alabama Stakes

Yet another enormous weekend in the sport of Horse Racing and we will be looking at two of the biggest races of the year in the 2014 Arlington Million at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois, which will feature 2013 Breeders Cup winner Magician, and the 2014 Alabama Stakes, which will feature probably the second best three year old filly in the land Stopchargingmaria, at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. Both races are very prestigious and usually have year end championship implications.

Speaking of Arlington, they have their biggest day of the year this Saturday. On top of the Arlington Million, which was the very first $1 million race run in America (1981- the great John Henry ran down 40-1 shot The Bart in an absolute thriller), the track will run the American St Leger Stakes for three year olds and up going a marathon 13 ½ furlongs on the turf for $400,000. The race is pretty wide open but I’m leaning towards The Pizza man, who has now won four races in a row, to win it. But Moment in Time seems to like North American racing, Big Kick seems to have taken to the grass like a duck to water and Dandino, who won this race last year, all look like they could run well.

Arlington Park will run the Grade: 1, $750,000 Beverly D Stakes for three year olds and up fillies and mares going a mile and three sixteenths on the turf. Euro Charline, a winner at Royal Ascot in her last, Stephanie’s Kitten, who possesses a huge late run and Tannery, who I’m sure will bounce back after a bad performance in her last, all looking like they can jump up and win it. Last, but not least, is the Grade:1, $500,000 Secretariat Stakes for three year olds going a mile and a quarter also on the turf. I like Adelaine a lot especially after her enormous US debut in the Belmont Invitational on July 5, but Divine Oath, who is 3 for 5 in his career and (believe it or not) I expect a good race from Global View as well.


Also this weekend, the big race out west will be the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks for three year old fillies going a mile and an eighth on the turf. This race drew a field of nine and, although beaten by two horses in her last race that are re-entered here, I like My Conquestadory in this one  looks.

On Sunday, be sure to catch the $500,000 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga and the Philip Iselin at Monmouth Park. Once again, I apologize but I have to go to print before these races are even drawn so, at this writing, I don’t even know who is entered but both races are very exciting year in and year out.


Saturday August 16 2014

Arlington Park

Race: 10

Arlington Million (Grade: 1-Turf)

Distance: 1 1/4 Miles

For 3 Year Olds And Up

Purse: $1,000,000


1 Hardest Core 20-1 E. Vaz 126 Lbs E. Graham L
2 Smoking Sun 9-2 S. Pasquier 126 Lbs P. Bary
3 Magician (IRE) 7-5 J. O’Brien 126 Lbs A. O’Brien L
4 Finnegans Wake 12-1 R. Moore 126 Lbs D. Romans L
5 Up With the Birds 6-1 E. Da Silva 126 Lbs M. Pierce L
6 Real Solution  5-2 J. Castellano 126 Lbs C. Brown L
7 Side Glance (GB) 8-1 J. Spencer 126 Lbs A. Balding L



1) Magician- faltered in one of the biggest races in the world at Royal Ascot in his last, but is a multiple Group/Grade: 1 winner that ran very well in his five prior races dating back to winning the Breeder’s Cup Turf last year.

In BC, he rallied from far back and blew past the field proving he is capable of winning a race of this caliber on American soil.


2) Smoking Sun– will be making his US debut in this race so it’s a little more difficult to get a read on him.

That being said, he comes into this off a strong second place finish in the $1 million Singapore International that was completed in quick 1:59 flat for the 10 furlongs, which is the same distance he’ll have to go this Saturday.

This now five year old by Smart Strike shows a 10 on the board finishes in 14 careers races and I expect another good effort in this spot provided he take to the American turf course(s)


3) Real Solution– won this race last year via disqualification and looks to be in a position to make another good showing this year.

This five year old son of Kittens Joy looks to be coming into this race while peaking out based off his last two races (Won the Manhattan Handicap and finished a very close second in the Man O’ War…both Grade: 1’s and both in NY).

Trainer Chad Brown goes to Saratoga’s leading rider Javier Castellano for the third time in a row and it seems as though he is reciprocating the confidence the rider shows in his horse.

“Javier is very confident in him and he’ll put him in whatever position he needs to be,” Brown said this past week.


Honorable Mention:

Up With The Birds could easily better this racting if he reproduces that titinaic win in the Nijinsky II Stakes at Woodbine in his last. This colt by Stormy Atlantic took full advantage of a pace meltdown and came with a huge run at the end to win by four going away lengths and stopping the clock in an eye popping 1:45.3 for the nine furlongs….dangerous foe!




Saturday August 16, 2014

Saratoga Race Course

Race: 10

Alabama Stakes (Grade: 1)

Distance: 1 ¼ miles

For three year old fillies

Purse: $600,000


1 Unbridled Forever R. Napravnik 121 Lbs D. Stewart L
2 Miss Besilu J. Lezcano 121 Lbs W. Mott L
3 America I. Ortiz, Jr. 121 Lbs W. Mott Blk-On L
4 Joint Return K. Carmouche 121 Lbs J. Servis Blk-On L
5 Got Lucky J. Ortiz 121 Lbs T. Pletcher Blk-On L
6 Fortune Pearl T. McCarthy 121 Lbs H. Motion L
7 Catch My Drift J. Bravo 121 Lbs C. Brown L
8 Stopchargingmaria J. Velazquez 121 Lbs T. Pletcher L
9 Size J. Alvarado 121 Lbs W. Mott




1) Stopchargingmaria– is probably the second best filly in the country (Untapable, of course) and seems to absolute love the Saratoga surface…those two facts make for a lethal combination for this race.

This Todd Pletcher trained filly appears back in top form after waltzing to a five length win in the Coaching Club American Oaks in her last and stretching out another furlong seems well within he limits. (I happened to be at Saratoga that day and she looked phenomenal coming down the stretch.)

“Based on the strength of her races over the track, it seemed like she handled [distance] really well,” Pletcher said when asked about going 10 furlongs for the first time. “She’s finished up well at a mile and an eighth, and she’s galloped out super.”

The filly, by the wickedly fast Tale of the Cat, who won the 1997 King’s Bishop Stakes in one of the most remarkable feats of pure, unadulterated speed I’ve ever witnessed, has run her three best speed figures over this very track and is clearly the one to beat.


2) Joint Return– is 15-1 on the morning line….are they kidding me?

This filly by Include has a monster late kick and sports a career mark of 9-5-1-1. When the entries first came out before the odds were listed I was thinking this filly would open at 4 or 5 to 1.

Yes, she disappointed in the Delaware Oaks in her last but she, by no means, ran poorly. She was closing hard on the outside but couldn’t get to Fortune Pearl who was enjoying a very good trip on the outside.

Trainer John Servis was not a happy with the runner up finish and vowed she would “be closer to the early pace” in the Alabama.

“I was a little disappointed,” he said. “She leaves herself so much to do because of her running style.”

Servis, who is based at Parx Park, will add blinkers to the filly in an attempt to get more early speed out of her. “I’m hoping with them she will put herself in the race more,” Servis said. “They’ve made a difference in her training.”

“The way she trains, I don’t think the distance is going to be a problem for her,” said Servis added. “This is my second go-round with the Alabama, (he trained Jostle to win the 2000 version of this race) and I’m looking forward to it.”…and I’m looking forward to those 15-1 odds Mr. Servis….if you are a bettor, she offers colossal valued…


3) Size– will be taking a big step up in class in this race, but from what she’s shown so far, she might be able to handle it.

This filly by First Samurai out of the Bill Mott barn won her first two races before finishing second in the Jersey Girl Stakes on May 28. But her real coming out party was when she romped home in the Iowa Oaks (slop). The Oaks was her first race at a route distance and her first over the sloppy track and she handled both very well.

Three for four in her career with speed figures at or above her opponents in this race, makes her a big threat.


Honorable Mentions:

Fortune Pearl has only been off the board once in seven lifetime starts and comes into this in career best form while two of her last three including knocking off Joint Return in the aforementioned Delaware Oaks in her last…could be an exotics menace. Unbridled Forever is another who has only finished off the board once in seven starts. Stretch running filly has been walloped by Untapable and, yes, Stopchargingmaria in her last few races but if she gets a fast pace in front of her she could hit the board. Got Lucky mailed it in in the Kentucky Oaks back in May but has been first or second in six other lifetime starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher said “The mile and a quarter should be right in her wheelhouse,” after watching the filly work a half mile in :48.2 last week….long-shot possibility?


By: Gerard Apadula

Director of Equine Operations and Development

Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team 

2014 Record: 16-42 = 38% 

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 Little Bets N Pieces


**** The stretch running Kid Cruz, who won the Dwyer before finishing third in the Jim Dandy, worked five furlongs in 1:02.2 at Saratoga this past Monday in preparation for the Travers Stakes (Aug. 23).

Trainer Linda Rice said the son of Lemon Drop Kid went the first half-mile in :49 4/5 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 2/5.

“Just comfortably,” Rice said afterwards

“I was pretty aggressive with him, going from the Preakness to the Easy Goer to a month later going to the Dwyer to three weeks later in the Jim Dandy,” Rice said. “I don’t think I’m going to give him a strong breeze schedule. I’ve run him enough. So, my choice before was to either not run in the Jim Dandy and train seven weeks into the Travers, and I chose to run. I think he’s coming in quite well.”


In other Travers news:

Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist breezed five furlongs in 1:03.1 (out in 1:16.3) over the Oklahoma training track last Saturday with exercise rider Alvaro Hernandez aboard. “He’s hardly blowing, so, obviously, (the Jim Dandy) did him a lot of good,” said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. “He was moving well, no problem. I liked the gallop out. He went away from the other horse. Nothing fancy today. We’ll try to bring him back next week. The plan is to work him next Saturday.”

Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong breezed a half mile in :48 3/5 (out in 1:01.3)over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga last Friday with regular exercise rider Kelvin Pahal up.

“I thought it was good,” said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. “I told (Pahal) to start out easy, and that’s the beauty of working over here at the Oklahoma, they don’t overdo it. I thought everything was perfect; it was just what we wanted. The time was just right, and he seemed to gallop out on his own, willingly. I thought it was a good work for two weeks after his last race and to set him up for a more serious work next week.”

“He’s maintained (since the Jim Dandy),” said Jerkens. “He’s gotten a little feistier since he’s been up here, which colts tend to do. In a congested area like this, there’s a lot of activity. It’s not easy to take him out for a graze like it is (at Belmont).

“There’s a lot of noise, but in a good way; he has to get used to it. There’s going to be a lot of noise on Travers Day. He’s not going to be a perfect angel ever. I’m really happy with where we’re at right now.”

Other confirmed starters include Bayern, who is coming into the Travers off monster back to back wins in the Haskell Invitational and grade: 2 Woody Stephens. Also, Mr. Speaker, who won the grade I Belmont Derby Invitational on grass in his last starts, will also be pointed towards the Travers.

Also under consideration are Wildcat Red, winner of the Fountain of Youth and Hutcheson al well as coming second in both the Florida Derby and Haskell; Canadian classic winner Coltimus Prime, who took the second leg of their Triple Crown (the Prince of Wales Stakes July 29 at Fort Erie), Jerome winner Noble Moon; Long Branch winner Irish You Well; V.E. Day, Charge Now, Viva Majorca, Commanding Curve; Ulbanbator, and recent maiden winner C J’s Awesome.




**** In case you folks missed the Saratoga Special, here it is again. I Spent It, in only his second career start, showed the guts of burglar while squeezing thru a hole I mid-strecth that opened up late for leading rider Javier Castellano.

I Spent It was taken back off a fast pace, but encountered severe traffic issues on the turn for home.

“There was nowhere to go,” said Castellano, noting that the rail “was the only way he had, so I took a shot.
“The way he did it was brilliant. It was an impressive run; I think he’s the real deal. He’s a young horse and he’s never been here before. And driving him home, he went just through and opened up. Not a lot of horses can do that.”

“His second career start, so impressive,” trainer Anthony Dutrow said. “You’ve got to be a good horse to do that. Bad horses can’t do that. And he’s always led all of us to believe—especially since his last race—we really thought we were going to see something like this today. “Obviously, you look at him right there, and he’s sitting, sitting, waiting his turn. He tries to get out a couple of paths, and there’s nothing there, so he stays where he’s at. He needs somewhere to go, he’s waiting, waiting, and when there’s a little hole there, he goes for it like he’s done it a million times. And he hadn’t. I watched him gallop out, and it was good.” I Spent It, who won his debut at Belmont in early July, completed the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.3.

“His second career start, so impressive,” Dutrow said. “You’ve got to be a good horse to do that. Bad horses can’t do that. And he’s always led all of us to believe—especially since his last race—we really thought we were going to see something like this today. “Obviously, you look at him right there, and he’s sitting, sitting, waiting his turn. He tries to get out a couple of paths, and there’s nothing there, so he stays where he’s at. He needs somewhere to go, he’s waiting, waiting, and when there’s a little hole there, he goes for it like he’s done it a million times. And he hadn’t. I watched him gallop out, and it was good.” “I don’t want to trade places with anybody,” Dutrow said, who later said the colt would be looking at both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Champagne Stakes for his next start “It’s one step at a time, but, so far, so good.”

Agreed…we better keep our eye on this guy, he was extremely impressive in Saratoga Special



**** Competitive Edge, an eye popping debut winner at Saratoga, worked four furlongs in 47.4 seconds (out in 1:00.2) last Tuesday morning over Saratoga’s main track. It was his first breeze since he manhandled his foes in winning by 10 1/4 lengths on July 26.

Competitive Edge is pointing to the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes here on Sept. 1.

“More of what we’re accustomed to seeing from him,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of the work. “Pretty impressive work horse. He was ready to fly if we’d have let him.”

In his debut, Competitive Edge ripped six furlongs in 1:09.4 and earned a Speed Figure of 90.

“He’s come out of the race great,” Pletcher said. “Exceptionally talented and got a great mind to go with it. Excited about him.”