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Monday, July 31
Saturday picks




The Arlington Million
9th Arlington
Distance: 1 1/4 miles on the turf
Purse: $2 million
For: 3-year-olds & upward
Grade I
Live on ESPN, 4 p.m. ET

The 18th running of the Million (why didn't they name it the Millions?) brings together a highly competitive, quality field of seven, any one of whom could win it.  We'll go with the Godolphin Stable's Slickly. It looks as if this has been the goal all along for owner Sheikh Mohammed. After winning a Group I last year and finishing second behind Dubai Millennium, Slickly had a rest and came back with a useful prep, winning the Group III La Coupe. Bienamado may be the best of the U.S. based horses. After running a powerful race in the Jim Murray, he came back to win the Grade II Sunset. Had a few big efforts in Europe, including second-place finish behind Montjeu. Many will dismiss Running Stag because he's 1-for-19 on the grass. But note that he's never run on grass with Lasix, the medication that has seemed to turn his career around. If he runs back to his best dirt races he'll kill these horses. Nothing wrong with Manndar or Asidero. Don't like Chester House, who never seems to win the big one.

Picks Summary:  1. Slickly  2. Bienamado  3. Running Stag


The Beverly D.
7th Arlington
Distance: 1 3/16ths of a mile on the turf
Purse: $500,000
For: 3-year-olds & upward, fillies & mares
Grade I
ESPN, 4 p.m. ET

Until Happyanunoit hooks up with Perfect Sting, she'll probably keep on winning everything in sight. In a surprisingly weak Beverly D., she towers over this field and is simply faster than her competition. America appears the best of the European shippers in this field. She won a Group II in her last start for top trainer Christiane Head. Might prefer soft ground. Wade For Me has never faced fillies of this quality, but has handled herself very well versus lesser. Ran a top race last time out in the Modesty.

Picks Summary:  1. Happyanunoit  2. America  3. Wade For Me


The Secretariat
11th Arlington
Distance: 1 1/4 miles on the turf
Purse: $400,000
For: 3-year-olds
Grade I

King Cugat is the reigning king of 3-year-old turf horses. He's won four straight stakes, the last two in handy fashion. In a competitive field, he could be hard to take at what is going to be a short price, but he certainly looks like the horse to beat. Pine Dance won the American Derby in his U.S. debut. Comes from sharp trainer in Dermot Weld. Problem may be that he beat nothing in his last start. Is Slew Valley for real? In his turf debut, he ran a sizzling race that earned a big figure. He's taking a huge jump up in class, but might be good enough to compete here.

Picks Summary: 1. King Cugat  2. Pine Dance  3. Slew Valley


The Alabama
8th Saratoga
Distance: 1 1/4 miles
Purse: $750,000
For: Fillies, 3-year-olds
Grade I
ESPN, 4 p.m. ET

While most think this is a two-horse race between Jostle and Secret Status, we don't see it that way at all. There are several new shooters in here, a couple of whom stack up favorably with the Big 2. We'll go with Classy Cara, who should be a nice price. With the presence of rabbit Valleydar in here, there should be a fast pace, setting the race up nicely for a late-runner like Classy Cara. Throw out her Kentucky Oaks. She just didn't run that day. Jostle goes from the outside and won't get loose on this field, as she did in the Coaching Club. Still, she's a top quality field who can rate off the pace. Resort is a fast improving filly for Shug McGaughey She outkicked Secret Status late in the CCA Oaks for the place and should do well here. Secret Status will be the favorite, but we don't really like her here. Even though she was compromised by the slow pace in the Coaching Club American Oaks, she just didn't have it that day. Maybe she's off her game.

Picks Summary: 1. Classy Cara  2. Jostle  3. Resort


The Sapling
9th Monmouth
Distance: 6 furlongs
For: 2-year-olds
Purse: $200,000
Grade III

Shooter, appropriately named since he's co-owned by Bobby Hurley, ran a huge race in his debut, winning by 8 1/4 lengths in 1:04.20. He's taking a huge jump up from a maiden to a Grade III race, but looks like a very talented prospect who can handle the rise in class. Duality is a hot horse from the cold Wayne Lukas barn. He won the Bashford Manner in his last race and must be respected. The knock is that runner-up Strait Cat came back and ran terribly in the Saratoga Special. Waltz King can close into a fast pace; has an outside shot.

Picks Summary: 1. Shooter  2. Duality  3. Waltz King


The La Jolla Handicap
8th Del Mar
Distance: 1 1/16th miles on the turf
Purse: $150,000
For: 3-year-olds
Grade III

This one looks like a two-horse race between Purely Cozzene and Duke of Green. We'll go with Duke of Green even though he was beaten by Purely Cozzene three starts back. You have to like Duke of Green's last race since he overcame the 10 post to win the faster division of the Oceanside. Purely Cozzene is consistent and tough. Sign of Hope hasn't faced much in England, where he was running in handicap races, but you have to respect any runner from Neil Drysdale's barn.

Picks Summary:  1. Duke of Green  2. Purely Cozzene  3. Sign of Hope



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