Big Blue Kitten and Slumber have traded blows the last couple of starts, but the 33rd running of the Arlington Million hardly looks like a two horse race. European invaders and a local hero will look keep the favorites at bay when the gates open at Arlington Park this afternoon.
Big Blue Kitten is certainly the model of consistency. If you take stock in Beyer Speed Figures, you can bet your money that the 7-year old ridgeling will peel off another 100+ effort as he has in each of his last eight starts. His last sub 100 Beyer was a 98 he recorded in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Joe Bravo has one way to ride the Ramsey home bred and that’s from off the pace. Stablemate Shining Copper will look to set the pace for him again along with Maverick Wave.
Big Blue Kitten is not going to be the only horse running late, however. Slumber had to battle traffic issues in the Grade 1 United Nations but was able to get up for second behind Big Blue Kitten. Slumber had been looking to go two-for-two with blinkers after firmly beating his rival in the Grade 1 Manhattan. With a 13-horse field, there is sure to be traffic to contend with again, but Slumber has really stepped up his game with the equipment change and will be touch to beat.
There are six European contenders in the Million with only one, Triple Threat, ever having made a start in the US. However, that one start in the Grade 2 Monmouth, was a winning American debut by a hard fought nose over Middleburg. With a start under his belt and some time in the Mott barn, there can be no discounting of Triple Threat.
Local hero The Pizza Man will be looking to run his winning streak to three in a row for 2015 after opening the season with a commanding victory in Churchill’s Opening Verse Stakes and then shining on Million Preview Day here at Arlington in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes. Last year on Million Day, The Pizza Man took the American St. Leger. Today he steps onto the main stage and looks to take down the largest purse of his career. More forwardly placed than the late running favorites, he should get first crack at the leaders. He may not have enough to get there, but Geroux should have the ability to give him every opportunity.
When the running begins, The Pizza Man will give the fans a thrill but ultimately will be overtaken by Slumber, Triple Threat and Big Blue Kitten.