08/06/2008 11:00PM

Million distance boosts Einstein


NEW YORK - Arlington Park has the market cornered on important stakes racing Saturday, with its signature race, the Grade 1 Arlington Million, topping a card that also includes the Grade 1 Beverly D. and Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes.

Arlington Million

Archipenko is the projected favorite off a Group 1 win at this 1 1/4-mile distance in Hong Kong two starts back and a Group 2 win at Ascot most recently. But while I acknowledge that Archipenko has probably never been better, I still wonder how good he really is if he was sold off from trainer Aidan O'Brien's yard late last year to a member of the Maktoum family, their international rivals. Of the three overseas invaders in here, I most fear the O'Brien-trained Mount Nelson, winner of the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes last time out.

That said, I'm going with Einstein, who is going a distance that should enable him to produce his best performance. Einstein was the beaten favorite when second in the Firecracker Handicap most recently, but that race was at a mile. And even though Einstein was a sharp second to Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville in the one-mile Marker's Mark last spring, I believe a mile is shorter than what he prefers. Two starts back, Einstein ran against the best horse on the planet, Curlin, in the Stephen Foster Handicap on a dirt surface no one is really sure he likes, and he turned in a typically game effort, finishing second.

But the last two times Einstein went a distance on grass, something he'll be doing Saturday, he recorded Grade 1 wins. The first came in the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes, in which he held off Dancing Forever, who came back to win the Grade 2 Elkhorn and Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap. Einstein's most recent Grade 1 win came in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day, in which he became the only horse to beat a profound turf speed bias that prevailed on Derby Day and Kentucky Oaks Day.

La Jolla Handicap

This marks the American return of Nownownow, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall. But Nownownow, who finished last of five in the Irish 2000 Guineas in his only start this year, will not get the off turf that might have played a significant role in his Breeders' Cup upset.

I like Tangled Tango, who ran well when a rallying third in the second division of the Oceanside Stakes in his turf debut on opening day at Del Mar. A surprising last of 10 early, Tangled Tango was caught three wide on the first turn, five wide on the far turn, and seven wide into the stretch. Despite that ground loss, he was beaten only a little more than a length for it all. Tangled Tango drew the rail this time, meaning he should save a lot more ground and doesn't have to be nearly as far back early.

Secretariat Stakes

No one will be surprised if Tizdejavu wins, as he is going for his fourth straight graded stakes win. But Tizdejavu also is a strong favorite who has had everything go his way lately. The speed bias Einstein overcame on Derby Day carried Tizdejavu when he won the Crown Royal American Turf on Kentucky Oaks Day three starts back. And when he won the Jefferson Cup, and especially the American Derby last time out, Tizdejavu got away with setting slow fractions. This time, Secret Getaway is expected to keep Tizdejavu honest early.

I'm taking a shot with Winchester, an invader from Ireland whose two best performances so far were at this 1 1/4-mile distance. Moreover, Winchester gets blinkers and Lasix, and his connections reached out for Rene Douglas, who is dominating the rider standings at Arlington.