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International insights - Laura King previews the Group Ones on Arlington Million night

Bricks And Mortar (near, red and white) wins the Manhattan Stakes on Belmont Stakes Festival Saturday at Belmont Park.

International racing expert, Laura King previews the four Group One races on Arlington Million night at Arlington Park.

New York-based trainer Chad Brown has won the last two Millions and his 2018 victor, Robert Bruce, is back again; aiming to become the first dual winner of this race since the great John Henry in 1981 and 1984. However, the five-year-old has been beaten in all four starts since last year’s win and looks hard-pressed to reverse form with stablemate Bricks And Mortar, who beat him in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont last time out in June.

The winner of his last five starts, including three Grade 1s, Bricks And Mortar (5/4 William Hill) is the standout pick here. Versatile when it comes to ground conditions and able to sit handy in a race, the only real question is if he handles Arlington, which shouldn’t be an issue, and he can justify hot favouritism. 

Aidan O’Brien last won this race in 2011 with Cape Blanco and neither of his two runners this time bring in anything like that horse’s record. Hunting Horn runs in his fourth country and makes his fifth international trip of the year as he aims to improve on a 0/10 strike rate at the top level. Fifth in the King George at Ascot last month, he is likely to fall short again, although may be able to steal a tactical advantage from the front. 

Further European interest is added by King Power Racing’s Pivoine and Intellogent. The former takes an intriguing leap in grade here for trainer Andrew Balding. The winner of a hot York handicap last time out, this nevertheless looks an ambitious spot for him.

Intellogent, meanwhile, has a Group 1 win on his CV, having won the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville last season. Unsuccessful in five starts since, he needs to improve for the addition of first-time blinkers to get near Bricks And Mortar here. 

Beverley D Stakes

The fillies’ equivalent of the Million is the Grade 1 Beverly D, for which multiple Grade 1 winner and reigning champion Sistercharlie (11/10 bet365) is the hot favourite. She’s trained by Brown, who has won this five times, including in each of the last four years. The five-year-old has won her last four starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, and looks very hard to oppose here. 

Prior to Brown’s domination, this had been a good spot for European raiders and three run this time, including Fleeting who will aim to give O’Brien his first win in the race. A Group 2 winner at two, she was an excellent second in the Irish Oaks behind Star Catcher last time out, but the drop in trip is something of a question mark here. However, as a three-year-old, she receives 6lbs from the rest of the field, which shouldn’t be overlooked.  O’Brien could also run Magic Wand, who was well-held in the King George last time, and who is cross-entered in the Million.  

The third European challenger is the William Haggas-trained Awesometank (16/1 bet365) who was last seen finishing seventh in the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot. Better than that when against her own sex, she is a tough front-runner who may be able to hold on for a slice of the valuable prize fund. ~

Sistercharlie (third right, green) winning during last year's Breeders' Cup.

Secretariat Stakes

The Grade 3 Secretariat Stakes, for three-year-olds, has had its distance changed to a mile and has attracted a field of nine. Among them, only Chad Brown’s Fog Of War is a Grade 1 winner, but the colt has been a little disappointing on his last two starts. Brown, who won this with subsequent Million winner Beach Patrol in 2016, also saddles the unbeaten Valid Point (4/1 William Hill), who takes a leap in grade after scooting home by three and a half lengths in allowance company at Belmont last time out. 

Aidan O’Brien has won this race three times and sends out Never No More and Van Beethoven, the former being the choice of Ryan Moore. Winner of the Listed 2000 Guineas Trial in April when last seen, the break since is a concern for Never No More, whereas Van Beethoven arrives in Chicago following his eighth place finish in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot; a tougher task than he faces here. 

Faraway Kitten, the mount of John Velazquez, has won three of his last four starts, including the Grade 3 American Derby at Arlington. He rates as a danger in a race in which Valid Point just gets the verdict.

Fourstardave Handicap

Over at Saratoga, Brown saddles the filly Uni (9/4 bet365) against the colts in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap, over a mile on turf. The winner of her last five, including the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar, she is also a course and distance winner and has plenty of yard confidence behind her.

Brown also runs another Grade 1 winner, Raging Bull, who was third to Bricks And Mortar last time at Belmont. The drop back to a mile is a slight concern for him, however, although a likely strong pace will suit him. 

The sole European shipper is the Simon Crisford-trained Ostilio, who looks for his first top level success here. Not seen since a below-par effort in the Grade 1 Lockinge at Newbury in May, Andrea Atzeni may have a tactical advantage on the four-year-old, who often makes the running.

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International insights - Laura King previews the Group Ones on Arlington Million night

International racing expert, Laura King previews the four Group One races on Arlington Million night at Arlington Park on Saturday 10th August.

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