Bricks and Mortar Gets the Spotlight Saturday as Arlington Million Favorite Seeks Sixth Straight Win

Posted on: August 9, 2019, 09:35h. 

Last updated on: August 10, 2019, 11:36h.

One of the top races for older horses happens Saturday evening, as a field of 10 will take to the Arlington Park turf course for the 37th running of the Grade I Arlington Million.

Bricks and Mortar, seen here winning the Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs in May, has won five straight races. He’ll seek his sixth in a row Saturday in the Arlington Million. (Image: Coady Photography)

When it comes to the casual horse racing fan, almost all of their focus falls on the 3-year-old horses and the Triple Crown races. As that happens, sometimes championship thoroughbreds get lost in the background.

Take Bricks and Mortar, for example. The 5-year-old and leading Horse of the Year candidate has won his last five starts. His four wins this year have been graded stakes, including three Grade I wins. However, his last two races, the Grade I Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Grade I Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park, have taken place on the undercards for the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

On Saturday, just outside Chicago, Bricks and Mortar will headline the main event in a 1-1/4-mile race.

Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Bricks and Mortar will start from the third gate. Handicappers set his morning line at 8-5, but bettors will likely shorten his odds before post time.

Bricks and Mortar got off to a strong start by winning his first four races at age 3. That included the Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga. He followed that up with two third place showings in a pair of Grade III stakes races, but then sat out for more than 14 months because of injuries.

He ran just once as a 4-year-old, appearing in an allowance claiming race at Gulfstream Park last December. A month later, he captured the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at the Florida track.

‘Very Rare Horse’

One of the things that makes Bricks and Mortar appealing is his running style. As a stalker, he doesn’t try to take the lead early. In each of his last five races, he didn’t take the lead until they hit the stretch or later.

His margin of victory in three of those races has been a half-length or less.

This horse, it just amazes me how consistently he is finishing on the turf,” Brown said after the Manhattan, which Bricks and Mortar won by 1-1/2 lengths. “He’s getting good trips, he’s kicking at all different distances. Very rare horse.”

Ortiz Jr. has called the horse a fighter. In the Old Forester, Bricks and Mortar sat in fourth at the sixteenth-pole. In a matter of a few strides, though, the horse kicked into gear and snatched the victory at the wire.

“When you ask him, he usually responds right away,” Ortiz told reporters back in May. “So, I just ride him with confidence.”

Other Contenders

Not only does Brown train the favorite, but he also trains the defending champion. Chilean-bred Robert Bruce, who finished second in the Manhattan, will start from the inside gate. He’s the second choice at 7-2. However, after winning eight of his first nine starts, capped by winning the Million last year, he hasn’t won since. He’s also finished out of the money in two of his last four starts.

If Robert Bruce wins, he’d be the first horse to repeat as the winner in the race’s history, and only the second horse, matching the legendary John Henry, to win it twice.

Only two other horses in the field have morning line odds in single digits. Irish-bred Magic Wand, a 4-year-old filly, is looking for her first win in the States and her first win overall in more than a year. She finished second to Bricks and Mortar by 2-1/2 lengths in the Pegasus World Cup.

Ridden by Wayne Lordan and trained by Aidan O’Brien, she’ll start between the two Brown entries with morning line odds of 5-1. Magic Wand will also race at 123 pounds, three pounds lighter than the rest of the field.

However, she’s also listed to race in the Grade I Beverly, a turf race for fillies and mares earlier in the day at Arlington Park. She’s a 3-1 selection there, if her handlers choose to send her off in that race.

Starting from the outside will be Bandua. The Jack Sisterson-trained 4-year-old won the Grade III Arlington Handicap last month, but finished sixth in the Manhattan. In 12 career races, he’s won three times and finished in the money five times overall.

Under jockey Adam Beschizza, he’ll start from the 10th gate and has morning line odds of 6-1.

Grade I Arlington Million

Arlington Park, 1-1/4 miles (Turf)
Post time: Saturday, 7:12 pm ET
(Horses are US bred unless indicated after their name)

PP Name Jockey/Trainer ML Odds

1. Robert Bruce (CHI)  Javier Castellano/Chad Brown 7-2

2. Magic Wand (IRE)  Wayne Lordan/Aidan O’Brien 5-1

3. Bricks and Mortar  Irad Ortiz Jr./Chad Brown 8-5

4. Catcho En Die (ARG)  Sophie Doyle/Naipaul Chatterpaul 30-1

5. Hunting Horn (IRE) Ryan Moore/Aidan O’Brien 12-1

6. The Great Day (ARG) Trevor McCarthy/Arnaud Delacour 12-1

7. Pivoine (IRE) Silvestre De Sousa/Andrew Balding 15-1

8. Captivating Moon Jose Valdivia Jr./Chris Block 20-1

9. Intellogent (IRE) Florent Geroux/Fabrice Chappet 12-1

10. Bandua Adam Beschizza/Jack Sisterson 6-1