Headlining the quartet of graded contests is the $100,000 Arlington Handicap (G3) sending a dozen runners 1 3/16 miles over the turf. The top three finishers on Saturday will receive an entry, with starting fees waived, to the Arlington Million (G1) on August 11.
DIVISIDERO is looking for a return to the winner’s circle in this spot after dropping his past five starts. A back-to-back winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) in 2016-17, the bay son of Kitten’s Joy finished seventh by only 2 1/2 lengths in the 2017 Arlington Million and closed out the year with a close fourth in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland in October.
Subsequently switched from trainer William “Buff” Bradley to newcomer Kelly Rubley, the Kentucky-bred kicked off his six-year-old campaign with a three-quarter length second in the Monmouth Stakes (G2) on May 26 and was last seen running fourth by that same margin in the Wise Dan Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on June 16. Jockey Jevian Toledo was aboard both those times and stays in the irons.
Trainer Michael Stidham saddles SYNCHRONY in the 83rd edition of the Arlington ‘Cap off a third-place effort in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. The track was yielding that day, and Synchrony snapped a two-race win streak finishing behind Yoshida and Beach Patrol. Prior to the Turf Classic, the Tapit five-year-old rallied for wins in the Fair Grounds Handicap (G3) and Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) on firm turf at Fair Grounds. Jockey Joe Bravo has been aboard for the chestnut’s past three starts and has the call Saturday.
JUST HOWARD broke his maiden and captured a trio of stakes contests for trainer Graham Motion during his sophomore season last year, including a three-quarter length victory in the Commonwealth Derby (G3). Unfortunately, the chestnut was unable to take that form with him when shipping to California for unplaced efforts in the Twilight Derby (G2) and Hollywood Derby (G1) to conclude his three-year-old campaign. The English Channel colt recently returned to action on May 19 for a third-place run in the off-the-turf Dixie Stakes (G3) at Pimlico on the Preakness Stakes (G1) undercard. Feargal Lynch piloted Just Howard in his three starts before the Dixie and takes back the mount here.
A few races before the Arlington ‘Cap, a baker’s dozen of turf distaffers will strut their stuff in the $100,000 Modesty Handicap (G3) going 1 3/16 miles on the green. The top three finishers receive entry, with starting fees waived, to the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) on August 11.
Looking to take advantage of that perk is DADDYS LIL DARLING, heroine of the American Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita Park in December. The Kenny McPeek charge has proven a duel-surface threat, having captured the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) and placed in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Alcibiades Stakes (G1), Ashland Stakes (G1) and Golden Rod Stakes (G2) on the dirt.
The Scat Daddy filly switched to turf last fall, adding wins in the Dueling Grounds Oaks and American Oaks to her resume while placing in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) and Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2). She made her four-year-old bow in the Hillsborough Stakes (G2), running fourth by a length, before placing in the Bewitch Stakes (G3) and New York Stakes (G2) in her past pair. Brian Hernandez Jr. has the ride for the first time.
Also lining up in the Modesty on Saturday are CON TE PARTIRO, who finished third in the Arlington Matron (G3) most recently; SULLY’S DREAM, winner of the New Orleans Ladies and Houston Distaff earlier this season and fourth last out in the Mint Julep Handicap (G3), and DARING DUCHESS, runner-up in the Keertana Stakes, The Very One Stakes (G3) and La Prevoyante Handicap (G3) in three of her four starts this year.
Kicking off the stakes action at Arlington on Saturday will be the $100,000 American Derby (G3), which attracted eight sophomore colts and geldings.
The 1 1/8-mile contest is the second in a three-race series of turf stakes for sophomores, which culminates in the Secretariat Stakes (G1) on August 11. The first race was the Arlington Classic (G3) on May 26, and the top pair from that 1 1/16-mile affair line back up here.
EZMOSH is two-for-two on turf thus far after taking an allowance/optional claimer at Fair Grounds in March prior to scoring in the Arlington Classic under returning jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. The Brad Cox trainee had 2 1/2 lengths to spare on PONT DU GARD that day and will go for the turf hat trick on Saturday.
Pont du Gard showed drastic improvement when going from 12th in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on Derby Day to second in the Arlington Classic. The Ignacio Correas IV pupil took his maiden debut over Arlington’s grass course last July and brings Jose Lopez along for the ride in the American Derby.
Looking to secure a first stakes win in this spot is CAPTIVATING MOON, who has placed in the Mystic Lake Derby, American Turf, Transylvania Stakes (G3) and Columbia Stakes in his past four races for trainer Chris Block. The Malibu Moon sophomore sees the return of Florent Geroux, who rode him in three of the above contests.
The final graded offering on Saturday at Arlington is the $100,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3) featuring a well-matched dozen older runners going 1 1/2 miles on the turf.
ARKLOW captured the American Turf last year and enters this spot off a second in the Muniz Memorial and fourth in the Turf Classic in his past pair.
NESSY captured the San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park in April and will try to rebound off a sixth-placing in the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational (G2) next out. CANESSAR finished second by a length in the Belmont Gold Cup on June 8 following a sixth, beaten only 2 3/4 lengths, in the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) in his seasonal bow on April 21.
BRONSON is exiting a rallying third-place effort in the Louisville Handicap (G3), 1 3/4 lengths behind the re-opposing HARLAN STRONG but a head and 1 1/2 lengths in front of fifth-placer CARTOON, who also returns in this spot.
The final stakes on Arlington’s “Ride to the Million” card Saturday is the $100,000 Hatoof Stakes for sophomore fillies on the turf.
Grade 3 victress GO NONI GO faces 11 in the 1 1/16-mile affair off a runner-up placing in the Regret Stakes (G3) at Churchill on June 16.