Back after a one-year hiatus and relocated from suburban Chicago to Churchill Downs, Saturday’s Grade 1 Arlington Million will have an eerie feel. It’s like seeing Joe Namath in a Los Angeles Rams jersey or Hakeem Olajuwon playing for the Toronto Raptors at the end of their careers. This American turf icon moves in front of America’s most iconic grandstand after parent company Churchill Downs Incorporated shuttered Arlington Park at the end of last season.
It will be very interesting to see how the betting public responds to this 11-race card (and single-day meeting) that runs up against summer heavyweights Saratoga and Del Mar. Saratoga counters with the Grade 1 Fourstardave for turf milers and the Grade 2 Saratoga Special for 2-year-olds on Saturday. Del Mar has the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon for fillies and mares on turf, as well as the Grade 2 Sorrento for juvenile fillies.
For those betting Churchill Downs on Saturday, which co-features the Grade 1 Beverly D. for fillies and mares on grass, here are the key Betmix.com local turf stakes stats over the last five years.
Percentage of winning favorites: 28.5%
Average win odds: 5.9-1
Hot trainers: Brad Cox (18-61, 30%), Chad Brown (11-55, 20%), Brendan Walsh (10-36, 26%)
Hot jockeys: Florent Geroux (17-77, 22%), Julien Leparoux (11-66, 17%), John Velazquez (9-44, 20%), Flavien Prat (7-23, 30%), Adam Beschizza (7-32, 22%)
What To Watch For This Week
Gulfstream Park will have a mandatory payout Saturday in its Rainbow 6 wager with a pool estimated to reach $1 million to $2 million with a carryover pool of nearly $300,000 entering Friday’s lead-in card … Canterbury Park has four stakes Saturday night for Minnesota-breds, while Thistledown presents five state-bred stakes for its Best of Ohio the same day … Sunday features a four-stakes card on Derby Day at Ellis Park, while the Pacific Northwest’s premier race, the Longacres Mile, will be renewed at Emerald Downs.
Friday Weekend Firestarter
Saratoga runs a quartet of stakes races for New York-breds on its Friday card. The first of those comes in Race 3 with the $125,000 John Morrissey for sprinters. While well-known Ny Traffic will be the horse to beat and well-backed after facing tougher competition, I don’t like him wheeling back just a week after the Grade 1 Vanderbilt. Give me rising prospect Saint Selby. He’s never faced stakes competition, but he will be flashing speed from the rail on a two-race winning streak, including a blazer at the meet.
1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week
The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:
— Prairie Meadows: 50%
— Mountaineer: 43%
— Belterra Park: 42%
— Colonial Downs: 38%
— Penn National: 38%
Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.)
— Arizona Downs: 60%
— Evangeline Downs: 53%
— Parx: 52%
— Colonial Downs: 48%
— Mountaineer: 46%
Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher)
— Gulfstream Park: 5
— Ellis Park: 5
— Del Mar: 4
— Laurel Park: 4
— Thistledown: 4
America’s hot jockeys last week
— Jeffrey Sanchez (6-12, 50%), Thistledown
— John McKee (7-16, 44%), Belterra
— Wilmer Garcia (7-18, 39%), Prairie Meadows
— Ry Eikleberry (6-16, 38%, Canterbury
— Jorge Carreno (6-16, 38%), Assiniboia Downs
— Yan Aviles (9-29, 31%), Laurel, Colonial
America’s hot trainers last week
— Jon Arnett (5-12, 42%), Prairie Meadows
— Edgar Mendoza (6-18, 33%), Hastings
— Jamie Ness (12-38, 32%), Laurel, Delaware, Monmouth, Parx
— Brad Cox (8-28, 29%), Del Mar, Saratoga, Ellis, Mountaineer, Laurel, Indy
— Steve Asmussen (7-27, 26%), Saratoga, Mountaineer, Colonial, Ellis, Indy, Louisiana Downs
Fun in the Sun Contest Every Saturday
Handicapping Saratoga and Del Mar? Put it to extra use and make money in the process with the weekly Xpressbet.com Fun in the Sun Contest. The last five races at Saratoga and the last five races at Del Mar require $10 win bets to play, and the entry fee is just $25 for weekly and season-ending cash prizes. Visit Xpressbet.com/tournaments for more.
Statistics courtesy of Betmix.com