The 2017 Arlington Million sports a full field of 13 ready to run 1-1/4 miles over the turf course. The 35th running of this midsummer classic headlines Arlington’s International Festival of Racing, which includes The Million, The Beverly D., The Secretariat Stakes, and The American St. Leger, all on the grass. The Million is a Breeder’s Cup Turf win-and-you’re-in event.
The field includes four accomplished shippers from across the pond. #5 Deauville is the 7/2 morning line favorite and is coming in off of 1 win, 2 seconds and 2 thirds in his last 6, all group 1 and group 3 affairs. #6 Fanciful Angel, sporting a 30-1 morning line and trying Lasix for the first time, may be in over her head. #9 Scottish is a group 1 veteran also trying Lasix for the first time. And 9-2 morning line Mekhtaal is coming off of a sub-par effort in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
According to Marcus Hersh at drf.com, since 1990 Arlington’s 1-1/4 mile turf course has produced only 6 winners from 117 starters from posts 9-14. That’s a pretty strong bias and could spell bad news for several prominent contenders including #13 Mekhtaal, #12 Ascend, #11 Divisidero, #10 Beach Patrol, and #9 Scottish.
While Arlington’s turf course favors ground savers, that doesn’t necessarily mean speed. 26% of the last 89 turf routes have been won wire to wire, but 56% have been won by mid-pack or deep closers. In a 13 horse field it’s difficult to project trips, but that looks to be the task at hand.
The speed contingent in this group includes local hero The Pizza Man, Chad Brown trainee Beach Patrol, European invader Scottish, #2 Oscar Nominated, and 7-2 morning line favorite Deauville. Of these, the sharpest of the bunch looks to be Beach Patrol. Beach Patrol settled into a suicidal speed duel in the G1 United Nations as the $1.40-1 favorite. While he is winless in his last 6, he has finished 2nd 4 times.
The rest of the race’s speed looks dull in comparison. Godolphin Racing’s Scottish could have been a speed factor but was declared out of the race. From the rail we have Oak Brook who I can only describe as cheap speed in this spot.
I think the race will set up with Beach Patrol alone on the front end. My hope is that he can clear the field from post #10 and cross over to the rail. The rest of the horses breaking from the outside will have to navigate more ground and have uncertain trips. The toughest of the bunch will be Mekhtaal, a proven group 1 winner, who has the disadvantageous 13th post. If jockey Frankie Dettori can navigate all of the turns and save enough ground to win, I will tip my hat to him and move on. Divisidero and Ascend, from the 11 and 12 spots will have the same issues.
While Deauville has drawn post 5 and should be able to navigate a ground saving trip from there, I believe Beach Patrol will have enough left in the tank down the stretch.
The bottom line is that I will take Beach Patrol for the win.