Why I'm Betting Robert Bruce in the Arlington Million

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 9th, 2018

If you’re handicapping Saturday’s $1,000,000 Arlington Million (gr. I) at Arlington Park, then you’ve probably already concluded—as have I—that there are plenty of talented horses to choose from.

The 1 ¼-mile race is a “Win and You’re In” for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, and the quality of the field reflects that status. Some of the best turf horses in North America (and a few good ones from Europe) have turned out to contest the Arlington Million, making this race a must-watch event on a busy weekend of racing.

The 3-1 favorite on the morning line is #11 Oscar Performance, and I can’t really knock his chances. The talented son of Kitten’s Joy won the Secretariat Stakes (gr. I) over this course and distance last year, one of two Grade 1 wins he’s scored going 1 ¼ miles, and two months ago he returned from a layoff to win the one-mile Poker Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park in the North American record-equaling time of 1:31.23 seconds.

Oscar Performance has plenty of tactical speed, so breaking from post eleven shouldn’t be much of an issue. I expect him to run well, but ultimately, I prefer the chances of #10 Robert Bruce, who boasts a near-perfect 7-for-8 record.

Actually, you can make a case that Robert Bruce should be undefeated. The Chilean-bred sensation went unchallenged in six starts in his home country, a streak of success that included four Group 1 wins, and he kicked off his U.S. career with a powerful win in the Fort Marcy Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park. Unfortunately, Robert Bruce endured a dreadful traffic-filled trip while finishing sixth in an unusual renewal of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (gr. I), and although he never got a chance to stretch out and run that day, he was still beaten just one length for victory by Spring Quality, who had finished second in the Fort Marcy.

Assuming that Robert Bruce receives a better trip on Saturday, I expect him to turn the tables on #2 Spring Quality (who is back for the Arlington Million) and prove very difficult to beat. His Chad Brown-trained stablemate, the 2017 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. I) winner #3 Almanaar, could also be a threat after returning from 16 months on the sidelines to win an 8.5-furlong allowance race at Belmont Park two months ago with a sharp rally from off the pace.

I’m not going to get too creative with my wagers here. Instead, I’m going to bet Robert Bruce to win and key him on top of the exacta with the other logical contenders underneath:

$14 to win: #10 Robert Bruce $6 exacta: 10 with 3,11 ($12) $4 exacta: 10 with 2 ($6)

Good luck!