The Arlington Handicap (Grade III)

7/8/2017 Arlington Park-Race #9

The Arlington Handicap–$100,000 Grade III

1 & 3/16th Miles on Turf for Three-Year-Olds and Upward

Post Time: 3:40 P.M. PST

Analysis by Michael Patricks

Summer racing is in full swing with the turn of the calendar to July and that means a bevy of turf races to be decided from across America’s landscape.  Belmont Park features the Stars and Stripes racing festival with two Grade I’s on sod; Arlington Park has a quartet of Grade III events on their lush turf course in their “Ride to the Million” preview day.  The analysis this week will focus on Arlington’s ninth race on Saturday, the Grade III Arlington Handicap which has lured a field of nine runners to line up and face starter Blue Knott in the 82nd installment of the final prep for the Arlington Million, which will be run on Saturday, August 12th.

Here are California’s racing dates of note heading into the summer:

Del Mar: July 19th-September 5th (Live Racing Wednesday-Sunday)

Santa Rosa: August 3rd-August 20th (Live Racing Thursday-Sunday)((Dark Thurs. August 17th))

Golden Gate Fields: August 23-September 19 (Live Racing Thursday-Sunday)

The Arlington Handicap

1-Taghleeb 3/1 ML- Former $62,500 claim has paid tremendous dividends for trainer Mike Maker, banking over $300,000 in his nine starts since being haltered. Taghleeb wasn’t himself last time out in a two mile affair, a race dominated by European shippers and he deserves a mulligan for that effort.  Drawn inside, he should get plenty of cover and be able to work out a well-timed ride under the clever hands of Robby Albarado.  Albarado and Maker are 13-for-52 over the past 18 months and Taghleeb has a beautiful bullet blowout from just six days ago.  (As an aside, it bears mentioning that Robby Albarado was the customary pilot for the favorite in the Arlington Handicap, Kasaqui, for seven straight races until just recent.)  Taghleeb’s Man o’War two races back was commendable and a reasonable facsimile of that effort will put him squarely in the thick of things in the Arlington Handicap; must use.

2-Cammack 20/1 ML- Etymology of this one’s name is a real mystery. By Giant’s Causeway and out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Fort Pond, there are no ascertainable hints going off his pedigree.  Cammack is an unincorporated town in Delaware and also a village in a rural area of Arkansas.  Eric Cammack is a former relief pitcher with the New York Mets in 2000, hitting a triple in his first and only major league at bat.  James Cammack is a stand-up bassist for the Ahmad Jamal Trio and hails from Cornwall, New York.  Lastly, Steve Cammack is a former soccer player from Sheffield United and Chesterfield in the English Football League.  Cammack scored 143 goals in 419 matches spanning his 15 year career. (–Wikipedia) What, if anything, do these proposed name sakes have to do with this seven-year-old gelding?  I haven’t got a clue!  As for the equine edition, he’s a homebred that has been grinding out a paycheck in allowance/optional claiming races and competing in small overnight handicap races.  Cammack likes Arlington Park and comes from a capable barn, but this will be his graded-stakes debut and he appears to be a cut below several of these on his best day.  He’ll run his race, but the turn of foot others possess by comparison should be a big stumbling block for him scaling this mountain; find yourself another Sherpa to lead you to a pay day.

3-Manitoulin 8/1 ML- Love the way he won on Belmont Stakes Day, taking cover while in behind horses, then angled wide for a clear run and mowed down his competition and defeated a next out winner in Hello Don Julio by open lengths. Hello Don Julio came back to win the non-winners of two allowance condition three weeks later, thus flattering the effort of Manitoulin from June 10th.  The talent, breeding, and capability have always been there with Manitoulin but until he was gelded before his April 27th race at Keeneland, it had been lying dormant.  Manitoulin is by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again and out of Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner, Soaring Softly.  The 97 Beyer figure leaps off the page and some will view that number as anomalistic, however, it’s my belief this gelding has started to figure things out and he’s a new horse since the ultimate equipment change he’s undertaken.  The pace figures to be lively and this race serves as an ideal platform for a proclamation that he is one to fear heading into the Arlington Million.  He’s the now horse and my pick to get the candy at a tenderized price.

4-Crewman 30/1 ML- Star of the barn has amassed two of the five wins this year for trainer Dee Poulos. Crewman is a prior Grade III winner, taking down the Hanshin two races back over synthetic and upsetting the apple cart at 25/1.  He’s 0-for-10 on turf and this is a very difficult spot to shop for his first victory on grass.  Gilligan, Osorio, Landeros, Marquez, Cotto and Shinn: no that’s not a law firm but the parade of jockeys who have undertaken the steering in his last six efforts.  Crewman is a nice little horse but he’s caught in the wash of being real tough against allowance foes—and not enough horse against these types of runners.  Given that his top Beyer on grass is 87 and that the favorite drawn next door has eclipsed triple digits on the fastball five times himself, paints the inevitable scenario where Crewman is likely to be the first rower cast overboard when the field turns for home; get the life jacket out after six furlongs and toss it in his direction.

5-Kasaqui (Arg) 9/5 ML- He’s out to defend his title from last year where he took down the Arlington Handicap as a tepid 3/1 favorite. Kasaqui came back in the Arlington Million to run a huge race and narrowly miss to Mondialiste.  Kasaqui is the one to beat but he’s not the one to bet.  The goal for this animal is no doubt vindication in the Arlington Million after his heartbreak in Arlington Heights last year, the evidence to that conclusion is supported by his taking the same road map he followed last year.  If we can assume that to be true, we can then also assume he may not be fully cranked for his best effort on Saturday with his calendar circled for August 12th back at the barn.  Is he good enough that he lays over this competition even if he’s not fully cranked?  It’s possible.  But he offers no value in this spot as a win bet and I’m not willing to spend my hard earned on a horse that will have to negotiate through traffic at about even money.  Must use in vertical and horizontal sequences, but he’s going to be an underlay when the gates fly back.

6-Ghost Hunter 12/1 ML- You have to admire his resume and he defines the term race horse. He’s a multiple winner on dirt, synthetic, and turf, and if you put him out on the interstate he’d probably run well on the concrete too.  He’s shipped all over the eastern seaboard and had success in whatever venue he’s been saddled up to compete in.  He’s versatile, can stalk and finish, and above all he wants to beat you as his 17 wins in 45 starts reflects.  His chinks in his armor have come for the most part when he has tried graded-stakes runners, noting he was a hard luck loser against Crewman in the Hanshin when favored.  He just handled a professional group of allowance types at Delaware Park and he’s more than capable of playing a role in the exotics.  Ghost Hunter’s trainer Jamie Ness is quite savvy and even though this gelding has now reached the tender age of seven, you would be lying to yourself if you didn’t acknowledge he was in outstanding form.  Can he win?  It’s possible.  Is it likely?  No, it isn’t; toss into lower rungs of your vertical sequences.

7-Oak Brook 20/1 ML- He’s a decent performer and has shown an enjoyment of the Arlington Park turf course in the past but that was against Illinois-breds and much more inferior competition to what he’ll be seeing in here. Oak Brook dug in tooth and nail to hold off fellow state-bred Cammock last time and if Cammock is pushing this one hard to the wire, just imagine the sound of the alarm when Taghleeb, Manitoulin and Kasaqui comes calling.  Oak Brook likes to be forwardly placed and will be out on the front end, but the pesky Applicator will do him no favors out where he likes to be on the front end and should be all over him like white on rice on a paper plate in a snow storm. I could go on and on about why I don’t like his chances, but instead of giving you the labor pains I’ll just give you the baby by saying loud and clear that he’s not good enough to get the vanilla-covered chocolates; pass.

8-Applicator 5/1 ML- He’s never run a step if he’s been headed at the first call so you can expect Jose Valdivia to put him right in the race and take them as far as he can. He was 69/1 in the Grade I Manhattan last out and only got beaten three lengths by some very nice horses.  Applicator shortens up 110 yards in the Arlington Handicap though the distance shouldn’t be too big of an issue since he’s won a 12 furlong race and also competed in a two mile affair.  His speed figures actually look quite solid and a loose horse is always dangerous, but then there’s the bitter pill to swallow that he’s 2-for-26 lifetime and enters on a ten-race losing streak. Given the trend of his running lines, one can’t help but wonder if he’s just gotten used to being reeled in with each and every race and his valiance is something that can be questioned.  His morning line seems to be a touch short in the win department and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him be a bit of an overlay when they head to the gate.  Given that he hasn’t been less than 14/1 in his last twelve starts, how can I accept less than half of that?  I can’t live with him and so I’ll make him beat me; tossing him out.

9-Sir Dudley Digges 9/2 ML- (19 May 1583 – 18 March 1639) was an English diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1610 and 1629. He was also a “Virginia adventurer,” an investor who ventured his capital in the Virginia Company of London.”-Wikipedia. Turning to today, Holy Helena was a very impressive winner of the Queen’s Plate last Sunday and she will try to take down the Canadian Triple Crown this summer, whereas Sir Dudley Digges was able to upset the Queen’s Plate in 2016 but floundered terribly in the Prince of Wales that’s run on dirt at Fort Erie.  By Gio Ponti, ‘Dudley obviously loves and is suited to grass, sporting seven exacta finishes from 11 lifetime starts on the surface.  He has managed to clear the second and third level allowance races in succession at Churchill and he rates as a logical player in the Arlington Handicap which is a natural step up the ladder.  Trainer Mike Maker book ends the field with his charges and since Taghleeb has very little to offer in the way of speed, you can expect Leparoux to put ‘Dudley in the race early, likely following Applicator and Oak Brook up the back stretch, keeping him close in tow so he can get the jump on the more proven closers.  Although ‘Dudley has come to hand quite well this spring, the top prize appears to be just a touch out of reach by my estimation, even though his connections seem to continuously win races just like this one; will need it all to break his way in order to get there.

Selections: 3-5-1-9