- Saturday’s Arlington Park card is the biggest day of horse racing in Illinois all year
- The Mister D. Stakes, formerly known as the Arlington Million, has attracted a strong field
- Where can we find betting value Saturday in Chicago?
Sadly, after nearly 100 years of operation, Saturday is very likely to be the final big day of racing at Arlington Park.
Chicago’s thoroughbred home for nearly a century is in dire straights. It is for sale, and there is little reason for optimism. That said, one more party is a good way to go out.
While the Arlington Million is no longer worth $1 million, and the name has changed to the Mister D. Stakes, it still has a large and competitive field on a day of terrific turf racing. The Mister D is one of four graded stakes races on the grass.
Let’s look carefully at the feature event, and consider the other graded stakes too. Where is betting value present?
2021 Mister D. Stakes Odds
Odds as of August 12th
The Arlington Million, which has been called the Budweiser Million, and now Mister D. Stakes after Dick Duchossois, who owned Arlington Park, has had an interesting history.
When it was first run in 1981, it became the first $1 million race in America. John Henry, who won the inaugural running, came back and won it again in 1984. A year later, after a major fire to Arlington Park, the race was run adjacent to the burnt-out grandstand. In 1995 Awad circled the field and completed the mile-and-a-quarter in a record time of 1:58.69. While the race was not run last year because of COVID-19, each of the last three runnings have been taken by trainer Chad Brown.
Post time on Saturday is scheduled 7:13 pm EST. The race will be televised by TVG.
Domestic Spending is trained by Brown and has won six of seven career races. After winning a Grade 1 race at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, he dominated the Manhattan Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day in New York.
With three straight Grade 1 victories, Domestic Spending is a force right now and may be the best turf runner in America. That said, he’ll face global competition on Saturday.
The Irish-bred son of Galileo, Armory is making his North American debut after hitting the board 12 times in 15 races across the pond.
After beating Group 2 competition in May, he finished third against the top class of horses at Ascot in June, and last month was fourth in a Group 2 at York. England and Ireland often produce the top turf horses in the world.
A few other options come out of the local prep for this race, last month’s Grade 3 Arlington Stakes. At +300 Bizzee Channel held off Two Emmys. The -120 favorite Zulu Alpha finished fifth out of six.
Bizzee Channel has won back-to-back races but has never faced a field like this. Two Emmys has been the runner-up in three straight and has also never competed at this sort of level. Zulu Alpha is a Grade 1 winner who has taken seven graded stakes. The Arlington Stakes was his first race in 10 months. If the eight-year-old just needed that race to get going, he can be competitive with the top options here.
Sometimes it is the less-heralded European who wins American turf races at long odds. Space Traveller doesn’t have the recent resume of Armory, but does have class on his side.
He has five victories in 19 starts in Europe and just one win in his last six races. That said, he won at Ascot in 2019 and ran competitively in the Breeders’ Cup Mile that same year. His last two races, against top horses, have not gone particularly well.
Pick: Armory (+450)
Other Graded Stakes Races at Arlington Saturday
The races leading up to the Mister D are strong. At 5:12 pm EST eight horses are entered in the $100,000 Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes slated for a mile and an eighth on the turf. Just more than a half-hour after the Pucker Up is the $400,000 Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes, a mile-and-three-sixteenths test on the sod. Just before 6:30 pm is the Grade 1 Bruce D. Stakes at a mile on grass with a purse of $300,000.
Pucker Up Stakes
Oyster Box won her first two races before finishing third in the Florida Oaks in March. After a fourth-place effort in a stakes race in New York, she ran fourth against a pretty good field in May’s Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Flown finished ahead of Oyster Box in the Regret, and came back to finish second in a stakes race at Arlington a month ago, beating Double Blessed in the process. That said, Flown has just a single win in seven career races.
Serene debuted with a fifth-place try in a maiden race at Saratoga last summer, but after a year off dominated in her return at Arlington on July 16. A repeat of that effort could make things interesting.
Pick: Oyster Box
Beverly D. Stakes
While seven horses are entered, and a couple of longshots aren’t crazy thoughts, Mean Mary and Santa Barbara are high-end horses who always show up.
Mean Mary is seeking a first career Grade 1 after back-to-back wins. She took the Gallorette Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico, before scoring three weeks later in the New York Stakes on Belmont Day in the Big Apple.
Mean Mary’s two Grade 1 efforts resulted in a second-place performance against Rushing Fall in Saratoga’s Diana Stakes last year and a seventh place effort in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Santa Barbara won her maiden race in Europe, and then finished fourth, fifth, and second in Group 1 races overseas. She came to America and scored at the top level last month.
To beat a good field despite brutal racing luck was very impressive.
Brown sends out longshot Lemista. She won four races across the pond, but since coming to the US ran second in a Grade 3 event at Belmont Park, and was a non-factor in the Diana a month ago at Saratoga.
Pick: Santa Barbara
Bruce D. Stakes
Therideofalifetime has two wins in eight starts but flashed huge potential last year when finishing second as a two-year-old in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.
Giving way and finishing second to Jackie’s Warrior is no crime. However, he does not seem to have taken enormous steps forward from last year.
King of Miami is the son of American Pharoah. He has won twice in four tries this year including the Mystic Lake Derby in Minnesota in June. He did not run well in Arlington’s American Derby last month.
Tango Tango Tango won the American Derby as a maiden. His victory at +850 came after three straight ok efforts, hitting the board twice.