It started as the Arlington Million and thrilled millions of fans in the decades after John Henry beat The Bart by a nostril in the 1981 inaugural edition of the $1 million international classic.
On Saturday, it comes to an end with a lower purse of $600,000 and a new name, the Mr. D Stakes, honoring longtime Arlington owner and executive Richard Duchossois. There have been many unforgettable runnings over the years and, as the curtain goes down with Arlington scheduled to be shuttered after this meet, we can all say, “Thanks for the memories!”
1. Strong Tide (15-1 morning-line odds): Not a lot to say about this Indiana-bred, except that he should be part of the early pace. He has the rail, which helps, but he was third in a Grade 3 stakes and then beaten more than 30 lengths in a Grade 2 stakes, which raises doubt over his chances in a Grade 1 affair.
2. Glynn County (12-1): He was fifth and sixth in his two tries in a graded stakes and faces an uphill climb here against proven Grade 1 winners.
3. Domestic Spending (6-5): Trainer Chad Brown won the last three editions of the Million and can close it with a four-bagger. Domestic Spending has won a pair of Grade 1 stakes in his two 2021 starts to emerge as North America’s top turf runner. He is a very deserving favorite here at a distance that he favors.
4. Two Emmys (10-1): He set the pace in the Arlington, a prep race for this, and was a game second, losing by a neck. If he can work out a slow pace, he might be able to hang around until the end.
5. Zulu Alpha (8-1): At his best, as he was when he won the 2020 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, he’d be a major threat. But his first race back from a 10-month playoff was a dull fifth in the Arlington Stakes July 17 as a 4-5 favorite. He should move forward off that try, but by how much is the key question. Beating Domestic Spending will not be an easy task.
6. Another Mystery (20-1): The Illinois-bred was third among the group of horses who ran in the Arlington Stakes. He has enough talent to hit the board but seems an unlikely winner as he lacks a graded stakes win.
7. Space Traveller (20-1): He was competitive in a mile Group 1 stakes overseas and was only beaten by five lengths in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile back in 2019. He’s a good miler but the extra quarter-mile raises questions about how he’ll handle the added distance.
8. Bizzee Channel (6-1): The locally-based gelding won the Arlington Stakes by a neck and loves this turf course with four wins in five tries. The distance is something new for him, but he’s certainly capable of placing in this field. Perhaps, with some luck, he can give the local runners a farewell victory.
9. Armory (9-2): He’s the better of the two Europeans with a third in a Group 1 stakes against the very formidable Love and Audarya, who won last year’s Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. A classy son of Galileo, he’s trained by Europe’s top trainer, Aidan O’Brien, and should be the main rival for Domestic Spending in the final furlong.
10. Big Dreaming (15-1): His connections appear to be dreaming as he’s coming off an allowance win and has not run in a stakes in nearly a year. Yet, he seems to be on the upswing and it wouldn’t be a shock if he lands in the superfecta.
THE PICK: Domestic Spending
LIVE LONGSHOT: Zulu Alpha