Oscar Performance will bring top credentials into the 36th renewal of the Arlington Million (G1) and appears poised for a successful four-year-old campaign following a sharp score in his seasonal opener. The classy Amerman Racing homebred has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite and will meet 10 rivals from the far outside post.
The 1 ¼-mile turf affair serves as a “Win & You’re In” for the November 3 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Oscar Performance showed an affinity for the Arlington turf when romping as the favorite in last year’s Secretariat (G1), one of three stakes on Saturday’s International Festival of Racing along with the Beverly D (G1) for distaffers. Oscar Performance also captured the Belmont Derby (G1) and Pennine Ridge (G3) last year as well as the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
Unplaced in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar, Oscar Performance returned in fine fettle from a seven-month freshening in the June 17 Poker (G3) at Belmont Park, rating patiently up close before offering a devastating turn of foot into the stretch. He rolled home much the best and established a new course record, stepping a mile in 1:31.23.
The Brian Lynch-trained son of Kitten’s Joy prefers more ground, logging a two-for-two mark at 10-furlongs, and Oscar Performance possesses the tactical speed to avoid losing ground with a long run to the first turn. Regular rider Jose Ortiz has the assignment.
Chad Brown won last year’s Million with Beach Patrol and the two-time victor returns with the trio of Robert Bruce (9-2 morning line), Almanaar (5-1) and Money Multiplier (6-1).
Chilean champion Robert Bruce will make his third North American appearance. Winner of the Fort Marcy (G3) in early May, the four-year-old colt experienced a less-than-favorable trip when finishing only a length back in sixth in the June 9 Manhattan (G1) last out. Irad Ortiz Jr. takes over the reins.
Almanaar captured the 2017 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) before heading to the sidelines for a 16-month hiatus. The French import came back to the races with an encouraging allowance score at Belmont on June 8 and the six-year-old gelding will keep Joel Rosario in the saddle.
Money Multiplier has some class concerns at this level, but the six-year-old is in good form presently and deserves a chance following a rallying second in the June 30 United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. John Velazquez guides the multiple Grade 2 scorer.
Leading Irish conditioner Aidan O’Brien hopes the third time is the charm for Deauville, who has finished third in the last two runnings of the Million. A neck second in an Irish Group 3 event most recently, the 5-year-old son of Galileo will have Coolmore’s go-to rider, Ryan Moore, and is listed as the 6-1 co-fourth choice.
Spring Quality, who was overlooked at 18-1 when making his fourth turf start for Graham Motion in the Manhattan, has been pegged at 8-1 following his upset victory. Edgar Prado retains the mount on the improving six-year-old gelding. Multiple Grade 1 winner Divisidero exits a game score in the July 7 Arlington (G3) and comes next on the morning line at 10-1. Jevian Toledo rides for Kelly Rubley.
English Group 3 winner Century Dream, beaten less than a length when fourth in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot two back, invades for Simon Crisford and William Buick will be in to ride. Catcho En Die is part of the mix following a mild upset in the July 7 Stars and Stripes (G3) at Arlington. Completing the field are a pair of outsiders, European raider Circus Couture and former claimer Twenty Four Seven.