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American St Leger preview

Returning to the blog for the Arlington International Festival of Racing is Davy Lane who you may remember had every selection in the frame last year at Arlington and also tipped up last year's Melbourne Cup winner on these pages. Davy was a winner of Channel 4 Racing's Top Tipster at Royal Ascot this year. Follow Davy on @LosCharruas.


US St. Leger
One Mile and Eleven Sixteenths (Turf)
Grade 2, US$350k
1642 local, 2142 BST, 0642 AEST
ML odds cited.

With last year's winner The Pizza Man taking his chances in the Million and the Argentine, Calvados, a late scratching, only 9 go to post in the US St. Leger. It should be a German Irish shoot out, but with Irad Ortiz Jr. and Joel Rosario on the scene, and others lurking, it is advisable to comb through the form before committing.

The No Hoper

10. Alpha Kitalpha 30/1 should be someone's pony.

The So Called No Hopers

The 5. Az Ridge 20/1 has a Mark Johnston-like profile racking up 14 wins in 40 starts and heaps of place money too. The 6 year old gelding has earned over £445,000 racing across the underbelly of the USA. When Giovanni Franco got the call in February, the horse went on a wild streak winning four in a row. He could steal fourth.

4. Crucero 8/1 has been stepping up in class, but has legitimate chance based on his win by a neck over Brazilian import Going Somewhere in the Grade III San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita last time. Going Somewhere ran well in the Arc two years ago and ran a credible second to Tac de Boistron in the Prix Royal Oak at Longchamp. It's generally wise to respect the improver.

11. Highball 15/1 is a 4 year colt by Lemon Drop Kid. He is coming into form off a 9f claimer victory at Churchill. He was prominent down the stretch under Frankie Dettori in last year's Secretariat, but faded badly in the final furlong. This does not bode well in terms of stamina, but the horse showed guts last time out. He could grab a piece of the Superfecta action.

The American Contenders

8. Xtra Luck 10/1 ran a credible fourth in the Stars and Stripes Stakes, the 1m 4f prep. for this race at Arlington in July. He couldn't kick when it mattered last time out, but with The Pizza Man and Calvados (two of the horses than finished ahead of him) out of the race, Xtra Luck has a shot in finishing 4th again.

2. Roman Approval 8/1 seemed to have The Pizza Man's number last time at Arlington but got tied up on the rail. With two wins from his last four runs and Joel Rosario returning to take the mount, the Michael J. Maker inmate must be a live chance to break out and win this. Owner Ken Ramsey has long talked up the prospects of 8. Hyper 7/2. The ML favourite has always just come up a buck at Grade I level, most famously losing by 3/4 length to Joshua Tree in the Canadian International two years ago. But Grade IIIs should still be in this horse's wheelhouse. Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard makes this an obvious favourite in the US and in UK and Irish books.

The German and Irish Contenders

3. Lucky Speed 5/1 comes into the race from a 9 furlong prep. in the Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine. The horse was ridden back and found trouble, but closed well done the stretch to grab a respectable fourth place. The ultimate aim for this horse is the Canadian International in late October. In theory, this former German Derby winner by Silvano out of a Monsun mare has the form and breeding to win this with something in hand. It helps to have a trainer like Peter Schiergen meticulously planning his North American odyssey. Reports suggest his coat looks the best of any horse at Arlington. The plucky 1. Panama Hat 10/1 gave Aiden O'Brien's Kingfisher a serious test over 14 f at the Curragh three starts back, holding him off till the final yards. His last race, a Listed affair at the Irish country track Roscommon, showed the fighting qualities of the horse. Giving tons of weight away, he marauded down the outside to land the prize. In addition to have exemplary connections, Panama Hat has the added advantage of having one of Ireland top upcoming pilots aboard.

The Winner

I am finding it hard to spilt Lucky Speed and Panama Hat, but can't rule out either Hyper or Roman Approval (largely because of the jockey bookings). My head points to Lucky Speed (breeding, trainer, preparation, form book and strong wellbeing reports from track), but my gut tells me Chris Hayes is going to rattle Panama Hat home somehow.

Short List

1. Panama Hat - Andrew Oliver - Chris Hayes
2. Roman Approval - Michael J. Maker - Joel Rosario
3. Lucky Speed - Peter Schiergen - Andreas Starke
4. Crucero - J. Keith Desormeaux - Kent Desormeaux
7. Hyper - Chad Brown - Irad Ortiz. Jr
11. Highball - Wayne Catalano - Jose Valdivia Jr.


Win & EW 3. Lucky Speed 8/1 BetFred
EW 4. Crucero 10/1 Paddy Power

Superfecta 5 x 2 Dollar Units

3, 1, 2, 7
3, 2, 1, 7
3, 1, 2, 11
3, 2, 1, 4
3, 1, 2, 4


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