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Secretariat Stakes 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 him on @LosCharruas.

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SECRETARIAT STAKES
GI - 1 Mile and a Quarter (Turf)
US$450,000
1717 local, 2217 BST, 0717 AEST
ML odds cited.


The Obvious Contenders

Followers of US Turf racing will be drawn to Alan Goldberg's 2. Force the Pass 2/1 who destroyed a strong field in the Belmont Derby on July 4th and left me - the holder of an uncashed Divisidero ticket - crying in my beer. Divisidero had a nightmare trip and ran out of gas four wide on the home turn. Force the Pass may have had a dream up the rail, but still won by an emphatic 3 3/4 lengths going away from the field. That form has since been franked by fifth place finisher Takeover Target, a game winner of the Grade II Hall of Fame at Saratoga. With Joel Rosario booked, the 4/1 offered by Paddy Power is overs.

Followers of UK and Irish Turf racing will want Aiden O'Brien's 6. Highland Reel 5/2, a gallant second in the Prix du Jockey Club. Seamie Heffernan rode the horse on debut and has ridden plenty of Group I winners for Ballydoyle. He will be an able deputy for the injured Ryan Moore and Joseph O'Brien who cannot do the 8-6 weight. Highland Reel has been muted as a possible Aiden O'Brien entrant in Australasia's Premier Weight for Age race, the Cox Plate. And although the horse dismissed his rivals easily in a Group III contest at Glorious Goodwood and is on first time Lasix, he is no Adelaide. The horse significantly unders at 6/4 with Paddy Power.

7. War Dispatch 4/1 must also be contender given his third in the Prix du Jockey Club. The Kentucky bred does not run with lasix. The horse will have endured a torrid heatwave though June and July at Jean Claude Rouget's barn in South West France, so he will be acclimatised to advertised Chicago heat. Former French Champion jockey Iortiz Mendizabal gets the leg up. The Basque jockey is under-rated. War Dispatch should be thereabouts, but is not my idea of the winner. This year's French Derby was a weak edition. My sense given the connections is the horse will soon find his way to a US barn and will be pointed to more realistic targets with first-time Lasix.

The No Hopers

4. Crittenden 12/1 and 5. Grannys Kitten 10/1 are out of their depth despite having the services of William Buick and Irad Ortiz, Jr. Both are examples of Ken Ramsey and Shiekh Mohammed wanting their brand flashed across the screens on the day world racing looks to Chicago.

The Dark Horses

1. Closing Bell 10/1 is probably the dark horse in the race. He was held up in the Belmont Derby on July 4th and finished a strong fourth. I like Bill Mott's barn right about now. The horse gets an ideal draw in 1. The seven-horse field makes each-way betting tenuous, but the horse would bring some serious value to the trifecta.

3. Goldstream 9/2 has been my idea of the winner since the nominations closed on May 23rd. His win in the Italian Derby on May 17th was one for the ages and sealed his sale to savvy Australian connections. His switch to German trainer Andreas Wohler (given Protectionist's emphatic Melbourne Cup win) was anticipated. Jamie Lovett of Australian Bloodstock has made it clear the horse was purchased to run in the Cox Plate. The Cox Plate on October 24th is not specifically invitation only, but the final field is determined by a committee rather than purely on ratings or nominations. Winning the Italian Derby may not be enough to secure an invitation, but winning or at least finishing a respectable second in the Secretariat should secure a berth. The Australian owners have flown to Chicago. This is a good sign. They have booked young hot shot Sydney jockey Brenton Avdulla, who already has a couple of Group I victories to his name. This is another good sign. The only downside is Goldstream has not had a run for nearly three months and runs against horses on Lasix.

Four sires catch the eye in the Secretariat. Tapit (Closing Bell), Speightstown (Force the Pass), Galileo (Highland Reel), and War Front (War Dispatch). The sire that does not catch the eye is Martino Alonso, an Irish bred who raced without success in Italy. But look a little closer and you'll see that Martino Alonso sired Ramonti, a winner at Royal Ascot, a winner of the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and a winner of the Hong Kong Cup. Goldstream is bred for the big time. Watch out Chicago!

Short List

1. Closing Bell - William I. Mott - Jose Lezcano
2. Force the Pass - Alan Goldberg - Joel Rosario
3. Goldsteam - Andreas Wohler - Brenton Avdulla
6. Highland Reel - Aiden O'Brien - Seamie Heffernan

Advice

Win 3. Goldstream US-ML 9/2; 13/2 Paddy Power
EW 3. Closing Bell US-ML 10/1; 20/1 Paddy Power

Trifecta 5 x 2 Dollar units
3, 2, 1
2, 3, 1
3, 2, 6
2, 3, 1
3, 1, 2

Include Goldstream in all across the card EW multiples.

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