Arlington Million updates
|Arlington Park Barn Notes
Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 385-7500 ext. 7319
In today's notes:
Trudy McCaffery, John Toffan & Robert Sangster's Bienamado could not handle the yielding grass course during Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million, but the good news is he returned uninjured following his second straight loss as the favorite in the main event of Chicago's Thoroughbred racing season.
A year ago, when sent to the post as the choice of the fans in the 2000 Arlington Million, Bienamado hurt his back during the running, and the injury forced him to miss the Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf later in the season.
However, groom Cleto Rodriguez, speaking in Spanish, indicated there were no such compromising physical aftereffects for Bienamado this year.
"Too heavy," said Rodriguez of the Arlington turf course rendered "yielding" following brief but severe showers earlier Saturday afternoon.
"He's okay," said Rodriguez Sunday morning. "No back injury this year. He looks good and feels good."
Observed in his stall Sunday during training hours, the burly chestnut was alert to the activity around him and attentive to Rodriguez. The horse and the groom will return to Southern California together on Monday.
Despite fading to last as the odds-on choice in Saturday's Grade I Beverly D., Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Astra was none the worse for wear following her frustrating outing in the sister race to the Arlington Million.
"The filly could not run on that (yielding) grass at all," said Kiki Spencer, assistant to Astra's trainer Simon Bray as she worked with Bray's two-horse contingent Sunday morning. "After the rain early in the day, Simon was afraid something like that might happen. He said after the first furlong out of the gate that he knew she was in trouble."
Astra, who has been known to make the pace and races in close attendance to it on her best days, was well positioned early during Saturday's co-featured Beverly D. but began to drop back after a half.
"I feel bad that she struggled the whole way, but she'll be back," Spencer said. "I thought Kent (jockey Desormeaux) was very nice to her and didn't ask her to do more than she was able to do.
"But she came good, and that was a big plus," Spencer concluded of the big bay mare. Astra had come from just behind the early leaders to win the Hollywood Park's Grade I Beverly Hills Handicap by four lengths in her previous start June 24.
Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Startac, who had been absent since a 10th-place finish in the Grade I Kentucky Derby May 5, came storming back to stardom after merging from far behind the field to capture Saturday's Grade I Secretariat at Arlington Park by a nose.
The Secretariat, restricted to 3-year-olds of international caliber, is at the same mile and a quarter distance as the Grade I Arlington Million, and often serves as an excellent precursor for future renewals of the showcase event of the Arlington season.
Trained by Simon Bray, Startac redeemed the sagging spirits of the barn that had been disappointed four races earlier when their favored Astra was unable to handle the yielding grass going during the 12th running of the Grade I Beverly D.
"The track didn't look like it bothered him at all," said Kiki Spencer, assistant to trainer Simon Bray. "I just knew that Startac would run the race of his life. I even bet on him. I never bet on horses, but this time I did.
"He's doing wonderfully this morning," said Spencer, as she stood outside Startac's stall, with the winning blanket of yellow and white carnations near by. "Have a flower."
HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum's White Heart, winner of the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, was not able to handle the heavy going in the Grade I Arlington Million on Saturday, according to Danny Lopez, assistant to trainer Neil Drysdale
"He's fine this morning," said Lopez on Sunday of White Heart, who was a close third, beaten less than two lengths by Million favorite Bienamado in their previous meeting in the Grade I Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park June 24.
"But when he hit the first turn yesterday, I knew he wasn't going to go anywhere," Lopez said. "He needs a firm track, like we have in California."
White Heart, Lopez, and the remainder of the California contingent that were competitors in Saturday's International Festival of Racing at Arlington Park are scheduled to leave Monday on their return trip to the West Coast.
Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof's Silvano, the German-bred world traveler who was the hero of Arlington Million XIX, was in fine fettle Sunday morning at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval, the morning after his three-length tally in the centerpiece race of the Arlington season. Silvano, a 5-year-old son of the British sire Lomitas, will be heading for New York in a couple of days to prepare for his next scheduled engagement in the Grade I Man o' War at Belmont Park on September 8.
Newgate Stud's Aldwych, a British-bred and British-campaigned sophomore who was seventh in Saturday's Grade I Secretariat, will remain in this country and campaign under the care of British-bred but American-based conditioner Neil Drysdale, inducted into the National Museum and Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga one year ago.
Juddmonte Farms, Inc.'s Mizzen Mast, a Kentucky-bred but French-campaigned 3-year-old who finished 10th in the Secretariat after flashing early speed, will remain in this country and come under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.
Jockey Rene Douglas, who had a riding triple on Saturday's International Festival of Racing Day program, went over the $2 million mark in earnings during the day.
Jockey Robby Albarado posted a riding double on the same Saturday program.
Trainer Gene Cilio posted a training double on the Saturday program, saddling first time starter Tinker, owned by James Tafel LLC, to win the third race, and coming back to pose in the winner's circle again after the 12th race of day with Tafel's Bolt.
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