08/15/2013 4:13PM

Byron King: Arlington Million Day stakes add to pick five appeal

Benoit & Associates
Grandeur is among four horses in the Arlington Million on a $72 pick five ticket.

Exotic wagers appeal to horseplayers for an obvious reason: they provide a chance for a score. They typically come at a price, though, in the form of a much higher takeout than straight bets.

But there are some opportunities for takeout relief, and players just need to know where to look.

This Saturday bettors need merely to look at a track they are likely to be handicapping, anyway – Arlington Park – which has the best racing in the country Saturday with the Arlington Million, Beverly D., and Secretariat on deck. All three races are part of the track’s daily pick five, which has just a 15 percent takeout and can be played in 50-cent denominations.

There is also a $100,000-guaranteed pool for the wager, though guaranteed pools are little more than a publicity gimmick unless the track doesn’t hit its guaranteed amount and has to kick in money to cover the difference. With handle expected to be high on Million Day, that isn’t likely to happen.

Here’s a look at the sequence, which begins with the Secretariat, a Grade 1 for 3-year-olds.

Secretariat, race 8

Jack Milton (No. 9) rates a slight edge, having run a close third on turf in the Virginia Derby at the Secretariat’s distance of 1 1/4 miles. Yet as well as he ran, he is probably capable of even better.

He seemed disinterested leaving the starting gate, causing jockey John Velazquez to encourage him to get going. And despite being hustled, he still had plenty of finish – which isn’t always the case for horses that are hustled early in a long route.

At least two others warrant long consideration for the pick five: First Cornerstone (4), a Group 2 winner in Europe who adds Lasix after a disappointing start to his 3-year-old campaign, and the rapidly improving Tattenham (13), who just missed in a swiftly-run second-level allowance vs. older horses at Belmont July 6.

Beverly D., race 9

Marketing Mix (6), likely the top female turfer in America, meets a stiff challenge in the Beverly D., and isn’t a sure thing.

Behind Marketing Mix, in order of preference, Euro invaders Duntle (2), Dank (4), and Gifted Girl (5) also merit inclusion in the pick five. Duntle and Dank have kept excellent company overseas, and although Gifted Girl has not raced against the same level of competition, her rapid improvement in 2013 suggests she should not be taken lightly.

At 12-1 on the morning line, Gifted Girl is the value of the Beverly D.

Arlington Million, race 10

The day’s star attraction is up, the Arlington Million, a race likely to be won by an overseas invader.

The Apache (10), most notably second in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free, is intriguing and rates on top, having received a needed prep when fourth in the York Stakes July 27. Possessing tactical speed and having experience on left-handed courses, he looks well suited to the American style of racing.

Grandeur (13) has already proven he likes American racing, twice winning Grade 2 stakes in California at 3 before going back England and running well in a pair of top-class races. He is a clear-cut favorite among bookmakers in Britain.

Mull of Killough (8) might very well prove to be the value of the Million and the best bet in the win pool. A mediocre horse until a year or so ago, he has taken great strides over the past 12 months and has been long pointed for this race.

The above-mentioned trio goes into the pick five, along with Indy Point (7), a flashy winner of his U.S. bow at Del Mar after finishing second in the Carlos Pellegrini in his final start in his home country of Argentina.

Hatoof Stakes, race 11

This race marks the second and seemingly easier division of the Hatoof for 3-year-old fillies, and given the scant accomplishments of those facing Frivolous (9), she is a single.

She fell just short of catching My Option when racing on Polytrack in the Arlington Oaks, and now returns to turf, the surface over which she won a maiden race over males at Churchill Downs.

Allowance, race 12

A five-furlong sprint on the grass, this race seems best played three deep, using stakes dropper Next Speaker (5), 11 1/2-length maiden graduate Western Elegance (7), and Carson’s Crown (6), a gelding coming off four straight in-the-money finishes.

The ticket

Using the horses outlined above in numerical order, a 50-cent pick five ticket of 4,9,13 with 2,4,5,6 with 7,8,10,13 with 9 with 5,6,7 costs $72.