The Arlington Million on Saturday holds a special place in American racing history. It was the world’s first million-dollar horse race and has had so many rich highlights, including a nose win by John Henry over The Bart in the first running in 1981.
Arlington Park, located outside Chicago, is a jewel of a racetrack, and Saturday’s card is a good one. The Million, Beverly D and Secretariat are Grade 1 stakes.
The Million drew 13, including six foreign horses. The Beverly D and Secretariat fields include three imports apiece. That tells me the invaders have no fear of this country’s turf divisions.
In handicapping the Million, I had a difficult time separating three horses: Grandeur, The Apache and Indy Point.
I have fond memories of Grandeur. He got me out on Breeders’ Cup Friday when he won the Twilight Derby in the race following the Ladies Classic, now renamed the Distaff.
Grandeur (7-2) has an explosive late kick but must overcome an onerous post 13.
The Apache (6-1) exits the same race as Grandeur, the SkyBet York Stakes in York, England. Grandeur ran second and The Apache fourth. While both can win the Million, The Apache figures to be a much bigger price.
Indy Point was a sharp winner in his U.S. debut in the Wickerr at Del Mar. The win margin was just over a length, but if you see the race replay, it was a measured verdict by Gary Stevens.
Marketing Mix (2-1) is a strong favorite in the Beverly D, but no single in my book. While she has won nine of 13 turf starts, including seven graded stakes, Duntle (3-1) and Dank (7-2) are formidable foes.
Duntle beat Dank two races ago in the Duke of Cambridge at Ascot, England. Duntle ran second last out in the group 1 Prix Rothschild at Deauville, France. She is a top-class racehorse.
Dank is no slouch, either, winning the group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland. Her trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has opted to run her first time on Lasix, which could be helpful.
And finally, in the Secretariat, I like a long shot in Visiyani (12-1), a French import from trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre. The colt was meant to be top class but has underachieved.
Visiyani won last out at Maisons-Laffitte, which has encouraged the trainer to ship him to Arlington for the toughest test of his life.
The favorite in the Secretariat is Jack Milton (3-1), but I think Rydilluc (9-2) will go off favored.
■ AMERICAN RACING MANUAL — I just received my 2013 American Racing Manual, published by the Daily Racing Form. It is a must-have, yearly compendium for any lover of the sport. To order, go to drf.com and search for it under DRF Press. The cost is $60.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.