Rivals headline competitive Arlington Million field

SHARE Rivals headline competitive Arlington Million field
SHARE Rivals headline competitive Arlington Million field

BY LARRY HAMEL

For the Sun-Times

Million-dollar stakes no longer are as rare as hen’s teeth in thoroughbred racing, but the first race in the United States to offer a seven-figure purse, the Arlington Million, remains a “circled” event on the turf calendar.

The 33rd running of Arlington Park’s signature event might not have lured a superstar (none of its entrants is ranked in the Top 10 poll), but it did attract a wealth of quality turf horses, making it an attractive betting race.

After 13 equines hit the entry box on Wednesday for Saturday’s Grade I classic over 1¼ miles on the grass, multiple Grade I winner Big Blue Kitten (Post 4) was established as the 3-1 favorite in the morning line. Fellow Chad Brown trainee Slumber is the 7-2 second choice from Post 2.

Big Blue Kitten won the Grade I United Nations, a $500,000 event, by 1½ lengths over his stablemate on July 5 at Monmouth. Slumber notched the victory by 2¾ lengths over Big Blue Kitten on June 6 in the Grade I million-dollar Manhattan at Belmont. Now their rivalry shifts to the Midwest.

Long shot Shining Copper (30-1, Post 9) figures to act as a rabbit for the morning-line pick, both being in the stable of Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, noted Kentucky owners and breeders. Big Blue Kitten boasts the heftiest career bankroll in the race, a cool $2.09 million, has won 13 of his 27 lifetime starts and has been off the board only three times.

Many fans at Arlington Park on Saturday no doubt will be pulling for local favorite The Pizza Man (10-1 from Post 7), an Illinois-bred owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds who won the American St. Leger turf marathon on Million Day last year. The Pizza Man tuned up for the Million with a victory on the Northwest suburban oval in the Grade III Stars and Stripes on July 11.

Others at single-digit odds in the morning line include two horses with gaudy connections, Triple Threat (owned by Team Valor International and Gary Barber) at 6-1 from Post 11 and Maverick Wave (Godolphin Racing) at 8-1 from the 11.

The Million is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge and its winner earns an automatic starting spot in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Turf.

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