Brown has solid trio in Arlington Million

Courtesy of Marcus Hersh of

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The weather forecast Saturday at Arlington is for sunshine.

The racing forecast calls for a Brown-out.

Chad Brown trains the heavy favorite for the Grade 1 Secretariat, Analyze It. He has four horses in the Grade 1 Beverly D., including the favored Sistercharlie. And in the Grade 1, $1 million Arlington Million, a race Brown has won twice, including last year with Beach Patrol, Brown starts three – Almanaar, Money Multiplier, and Robert Bruce – all with a real chance.

Brown’s trio sports international flair. Robert Bruce was bred in Chile and made his first six starts there, all wins, four in Group 1’s. He crackled home in winning the Fort Marcy Stakes in his U.S. debut, then got in an equine traffic jam for most of the second half of the Grade 1 Manhattan. Robert Bruce only could finish sixth, but once released from his bottle, he flashed home fastest and quickly galloped out in front.

Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount Saturday, and Robert Bruce might – but only might – be Brown’s best chance.

“If he’d have gotten in the clear in the Manhattan, he’d have run a much better race,” Brown said. “In the stretch, he’s a clear-running horse.”

Robert Bruce doesn’t have a great post, No. 10, in a 1 1/4-mile turf race that begins where the far turn curls into the homestretch. As of Thursday, course conditions for the Million card were uncertain. More than two inches of rain fell here late Tuesday afternoon, and turf racing Thursday was abandoned. There was a chance of rain Thursday night into Friday, but the course figures to be, at worst, “good” on Saturday. The three Grade 1’s are run in lane 5, with the rest of the grass action Saturday in lane 1.

Robert Bruce has won over various course conditions and stayed as far as 1 1/2 miles. Brown’s other two might have greater limitations. Money Multiplier was scratched from the Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga because of a wet course.

“We’re waiting for fast ground,” Brown said.

Money Multiplier has won at 1 1/8 miles but runs his top races at 1 1/2 miles. For Almanaar, the question is whether he can produce a top race – like his win in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf over 1 1/8 miles in 2017 – at 1 1/4 miles.

“That’s the question, but my feeling is he can,” said Brown.

Almanaar didn’t race for more than a year while he recovered from a left-front leg injury, according to Rick Nichols, racing manager for his owner, Shadwell Stable. Almanaar made a great appearance in coat and flesh this week at Arlington but is a tricky ride. He has an electric turn of foot but pulls hard early in his races and must be settled and covered.

His jockey, Joel Rosario, excels at that, but if Almanaar is wrangled too far off the pace, he might never catch up. There is not much real speed entered, and if 3-1 morning-line favorite Oscar Performance shakes loose, slows the pace, and sprints home, he might not be caught.

“He has a very tactical, high cruising speed with a big turn of foot,” said trainer Brian Lynch. “If they want to go quick, he can settle, and he’s always going to give you that last quarter.”

Oscar Performance won the Secretariat on this card last year over a humdrum field, failed to excel at 1 1/2 miles at the end of last season, and was taken out of training in December when Lynch wasn’t pleased with his condition. Oscar Performance has made only one 2018 start, scoring a sharp win in the Poker Handicap at Belmont. He has a poor draw in post 11 but enters in top form.

“He couldn’t be doing any better,” said Lynch.

Spring Quality came from the back of the field to win the Manhattan while making his Grade 1 debut as a 6-year-old, but those tactics were a function of a wide draw, and Spring Quality has showed tactical pace. With a decent break under Edgar Prado, he can take up a position not far off the lead.

“I think he’s pretty adaptable,” said trainer Graham Motion. “You can pretty much do what you want with him.”

Deauville is the best-known name among the three Europeans but does not appear to have developed (and seems to have been used as a pacemaker earlier this year) since his third in the 2017 Million. The Euro with the best chance is Century Dream, whose connections would love a course with some give.

Catcho En Die won the Stars and Stripes over 1 1/2 miles here last month, while Twenty Four Seven would need massive improvement to contend.

Divisidero will be scratched to race Saturday at Saratoga.

First post for the card is 12:15 p.m. Central, with the Million scheduled for 6:08 and preceded immediately by the Beverly D. and the Secretariat. There’s a $300,000-guaranteed pick four starting with race 9, the Secretariat, and ending on race 12, the Grade 3 Pucker Up, as well as a $150,000-guaranteed pick five on races 8-12.

The Million is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In qualifier for the BC Turf. NBC Sports will televise it and the Beverly D., and show the Secretariat on tape delay on a show running from 5 to 6:30 Central.

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