The Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes from Arlington Park has the potential to be the best race of the weekend. The 1 ¼ miles race pits several sophomore turf heavyweights against each other while adding a pair of European runners to the fray. This should make for exciting action and wagering opportunities.
#1 Handsome Mike (Scat Daddy x Classic Strike by Smart Strike) 15-1: The Kentucky Derby winning connections of Paul Reddam, Mario Gutierrez and Doug O’Neill tried to shake things up in the Haskell, but it wasn’t meant to be that day. He only beat two horses home in his first race since late March. He figures to move way up as he gets back on the sod for the first time since finishing second in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes as a juvenile. Sophomore stallion Scat Daddy is producing progeny that are biased more towards turf/synthetic than dirt. Look for him to get near the pace today.
#2 Summer Front (War Front x Rose of Summer by El Prado) 5-2: Has not lost in five turf starts for trainer Christophe Clement. He unleashed a devastating turn of foot to win the $100k Duluth Stakes last out, getting the final quarter in :21.73. That is smoking! The only real question standing in his way is distance. He hasn’t done anything to tell us he cannot go ten panels, but at the same time he hasn’t done it yet. Recent works include a five furlong move in :58.55 B over the Saratoga turf training track. Ramon Dominguez should be sitting under a ton of horse as they turn for home.
#3 Cozetti (Cozzene x Lemon Drop Cello by Lemon Drop Kid) 10-1: The first of a trio of entrants by trainer Dale Romans boasts what is almost certainly the best pedigree in the race. He was last seen rallying into slow fractions to annex the Grade 3 American Derby. Before that he was six lengths in the wake up stablemate Silver Max in the Oliver Stakes. If things get going too quick up front you might see this late developer spring a shocking upset under jockey Shaun Bridgmahon.
#4 Finnegans Wake (Powerscourt x Boat’s Ghost by Silver Ghost) 4-1: The second horse from the barn of Romans finished quickly to grab third in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby when last seen. Before that he exploded to win an allowance race going nine furlongs on the grass at Churchill Downs. He got the last furlong in :11 seconds which is very respectable. Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount for the first time.
#5 All Stormy (Stormy Atlantic x Allspice by Coronado’s Quest) 20-1: It will be up to this colt to keep the favorite honest. He likes to be near the front and just missed scoring the wire job last out in the American Derby. He is better than he looks, but the setup of this race will make it hard for him to win. Jockey Rosemary Hoemeister knows how to get a bomb home at Arlington. Greg Geier is the trainer.
#6 Daddy Long Legs (Scat Daddy x Dreamy Maiden by Meadowlake) 6-1: Emerged on the scene this year with a win in the Group 2 UAE Derby. As a juvenile he was a winner in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes. His inside post and lack of dirt pedigree contributed to a last place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He has run once since then, finishing fourth beaten two lengths in the Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas. Jockey Colm O’Donaghue figures to have him just behind Silver Max and All Stormy in the early stages of the race. Aidan O’Brien is the trainer.
#7 Bayrir (Medicean x Balankiya by Darshaan) 6-1: This guy is a total “X” factor. He only debuted on May 14, but has won three of four races in that span. The best of those wins came last out in the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam. Jockey Christopher Lemaire figures to have him in the back of the pack as he prepares to make one run. I’m going to side against the inexperienced horse, but it wouldn’t be the craziest thing to happen should he see the winner’s circle.
#8 Silver Max (Badge of Silver x Kissin Rene by Kissin Kris) 8-5: Who would have thought that this colt would turn into such a special animal after taking six tries to break his maiden? Certainly not I. Since scoring a maiden turf event in January, he has not lost in the sod, reeling off seven total wins. Among his wins are the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, Grade 2 American Turf Stakes and the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes. He has lots of early lick and will almost certainly be on the lead. I’m going to look for him to fold under pressure this time as he spots at least three pounds to all of his rivals. This is the best field he has ever faced and in the end he should find the closers have too much to handle.
Our top selection to win the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes is Summer Front. He possesses a devastating turn of foot and might be the fastest turf horse bred on this continent. Consider the Secretariat Stakes his coming out party.