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Secretariat Stakes preview

Next up on the Arlington card for assessment is the Secretariat Stakes. American racing form student, Davy Lane, @loscharruas, lines up with another preview on the top-class card.


Secretariat Stakes

There are no stand out contenders in the 37th running of the Secretariat Stakes. Finding the winner from the 13 declared requires forensic research and lashings of luck.

Europunters may see the shipping of Ulster based First Cornerstone as a Team Valour vanity project; they will wonder why the Aga Khan is bothering if Visiyani is not good enough to win; and they will be stuck in two minds as to whether Yeager got on the plane to just keep Grandeur company or whether his late nomination is a sign this fast progressing 3 year old is ready win a Group 1 race.

Chris Hayes is destined to ride Group winners outside Ireland, but it is hard to see First Cornerstone being his first. There were high expectations about this horse after his 3 wins as a 2 year old, but now he's moving like molasses. His latest effort in the Prix du Jockey club was woeful. The Secretariat maybe an easier race, but it's hard to include First Cornerstone in your calculations despite a good draw in 4 and a tenacious jockey.

I am loathe to dismiss an Alain Royer-Dupre runner, but Visiyani has been a so so horse in small field conditions races in France this season. This small son of Rock of Gibraltar may put in a respectable performance, but it's unlikely he can best 12 rivals. Ignore the plumb draw and prestigious trainer.

This is also a step up for Yeager, but unlike Visiyani, Yeager has had plenty of big field experience. His recent win at Ascot was his graduation. Yeager is ready for prime time. It is noteworthy Ryan Moore had other potential Secretariat bookings. Those horses never made the flight. Moore's Law!

And what of the Americans?

Admiral Kitten made an impressive wide sweep from near last to clinch 2nd in the American Derby at Arlington last month. The booking of Rosie Napravnik is significant. The horse is familiar with the track and he is drawn nicely in Gate 5. He's 5/1 on the Arlington Park Morning Line.

Amen Kitten steps down in trip here. He was last seen running a mile and a half. It's hard to tip a Wesley Ward horse for a race over 6 furlongs. Every thing I have seen of this 3 year old gelding suggests a mid-pack finish at best. (NB: If Wesley Ward horses are your thing you need to be betting the farm on No Nay Never in the Prix Morny at Deauville on Sunday.)

Dale Romans' Balthazar has been known to get agitated in the stalls. It's enough of a reason to dismiss a horse with very ordinary form. Bethel's claim to fame is that he finished 13 1/2 lengths behind Verrazano in the Group 3 Pegasus at Monmouth Park in June. Forget about it! And Forget about it!

The delightful Michelle Nihei may have a live one in Draw Two. This grey/roan colt is lighted raced and improving. He was hampered last time out in the Virginia Derby, but the way he finished suggests he can contend with a clear run. The booking of Gary Stevens will give the horse every chance. He's 6/1 State side. The downside is the draw. Draw Two is drawn twelve. This may entice some English bookies to offer generous odds. If they do, bet early and often.

Golden Jason ran a game third at Delaware Park last week. It's noble of connections to try their luck, but there's no evidence to suggest this horse can be competitive at this level. Forget about it!

Jack Milton is trained by Todd Pletcher. You have been warned. He has been placed in all of his five starts, winning twice. Joel Rosario takes the ride. No one will beat this horse by much, but the 3/1 Morning Line is more a reflection of the exceptional trainer and jockey booking. Forget about it, Jack!

Rydilluc was prolific as 2 year old and has earned more than any other horse in the field. He beat Jack Milton by 3/4's of a length to take the Penn Mile in June. The form suggests he should be in the mix, but his last outing was very, very poor. Connections blamed it on wet grass. He was an intended runner in the Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga last week. Rain forced that race to be switched to the dirt and so Rydilluc made a last minute entry into the Secretariat. This tells me his owners had a picnic basket prepared for the Spa. I don't believe the horse is primed for Arlington Park, rain or shine.

Stormy Len almost edged out Admiral Kitten in the American Derby. Although he finished 3rd Stormy Len looked the horse that would give you more bang for your buck next time out. Alex Solis is a reliable rider. He's 15/1 on the Morning Line. You can expect him to be higher on your high street. The Lenster value bet in the race.

Juddmonte's lightly raced Tattenham is making a big step up from Allowance company. A quick glance at the form would suggest his entry is for experience purposes. But if you watch Tattenham finish 2nd last time up at Belmont, you'll see the moment the horse gets it. William Mott could have Group 1 winner on his hands here. If not now, then soon.

I see seven possible winners here: One or two of Draw Two, Stormy Len, Admiral Kitten, Jack Milton and Rydilluc will find their way into the placings and I expect one of either Yeager or Tattenham to break into the top 3 also.

Yeager has a cosy draw in 7. Only Admiral Kitten is a threat on his inside. Ryan Moore will settle Yeager just outside Admiral Kitten. The other contenders will cause each other all sorts of problems on the outside. Whoever emerges will run into an asteroid belt of lower drawn horses. When they emerge Yeager will be warping to the post. With a better draw, Draw Two would have been my idea of the winner. Still, Stevens will race hard for place money. Solis will also bring Stormy Len late for a piece of the action. Admiral Kitten may just be run out of it. The draw has not been kind to Tattenham. He's drawn widest of all in 13. He'll be the hard luck story who could have won, if there were only another 100 yards to race.


1st 7. Yeager 12/1 US ML
2nd 10. Stormy Len 15/1 US ML
3rd 12. Draw Two 6/1 US ML


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