|Arlington Park - Road To The Million
Contact: Graham Ross
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BIENAMADO, FORBIDDEN APPLE WIN ON ROAD TO ARLINGTON MILLION XIX
Trudy McCaffery & John Toffan's Bienamado and Arthur I. Appleton's Forbidden Apple, a stellar pair of veteran turf campaigners nominated to this summer's Grade I Arlington Million, were both successful over the weekend while engaged in significant stops on the road to Arlington Million XIX.
The Million, centerpiece of the season at Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval, will be contested on August 18. The Million is also the third leg of the Emirates World Series Racing Championship, a 12-race series that is contested in 10 countries on four continents.
Fantastic Light, another nominee to this summer's Arlington Million, won Emirates World Series 2000 and was most recently the winner by a neck in the Group I Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh in Ireland on May 27.
Bienamado, who was fourth in last year's Arlington Million, captured Sunday's Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park in California by a length and a half, while one day earlier, Forbidden Apple proved best by three-quarters of a length in the Grade I Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park.
As the odds-on choice of the fans Sunday, Bienamado justified their confidence, taking command in upper stretch and quickly pulling away despite carrying the highweight of 124 pounds.
"Right now, I think he's at his best," said trainer Paco Gonzalez, who is pointing Bienamado to the Arlington Million for his next engagement.
"He's a very, very special horse," said winning jockey Chris McCarron of Bienamado. "He is just so professional. He's aggressive when he leaves the gate, then after we go a certain ways, he kind of gets the idea of what I want, and he starts cooperating. I was confident down the backside, around the far turn, turning for home, at the wire. I was confident in the paddock, actually."
In the Manhattan, run as the race prior to Saturday's Belmont Stakes, Forbidden Apple made the pace and then withstood a late run from the 120-pound highweight and favorite King Cugat, owned by Centennial Farms. King Cugat, another Arlington Million nominee, won last year's Grade II Arlington Classic as a 3-year-old and was second in the Grade I Secretariat.
Once again this year, the Million, the Secretariat and the Grade I Beverly D., which is restricted to fillies and mares, will be run on the same day as part of the International Festival of Racing. The three turf showcase events are the only three Grade I races offered in Illinois.
King Cugat was wearing blinkers for the first time in Saturday's Manhattan Handicap. Jockey Jerry Bailey indicated after the race that the colt was rank down the backstretch and that the blinkers may have had something to do with that.
"That was a terrible trip for a mile and a quarter," Bailey said after the race. "After he got checked on the first turn, I had to get him going to hold his position and ended up fighting him for the last five-eighths. It was a pretty good effort considering everything."
Corey Nakatani, astride the front running Forbidden Apple, indicated that he had an uneventful trip.
"It happened that we broke on top," said Nakatani, "and I figured I would rather dictate the race than have someone else do it."
Gary Tanaka's Tijiyr, still another Arlington Million nominee, finished third in the Manhattan, while Million nominees Timboroa, owned by Edmund A. Gann, and White Heart, owned by Maktoum Al Maktoum, finished third and fourth respectively in the Whittingham.
Also last Sunday, Arlington Million XIX nominee Quiet Resolve, owned by Sam-Son Farm, gradually wore down rivals in the stretch run to capture the Grade II King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap by a length and a half at Woodbine in Toronto. H.R.H. Prince Fahd bin Salman's Red Sea, another Million nominee, finished third in that Canadian fixture but was disqualified and placed fifth. Gary A. Tanaka's Spindrift, still another nominee to this summer's Million, finished fourth but was placed third following the disqualification of Red Sea.
The Manhattan and the Whittingham were both contested at the Arlington Million distance of a mile and a quarter over the grass, while the King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap was run on the turf at a mile and an eighth.
Stronach Stables, Inc.'s Perfect Sting, Eclipse Award-winning Female Turf Horse last year and a leading nominee to this year's Beverly D., ran against the boys in Saturday's Manhattan Handicap and finished sixth after being in tight quarters much of the race.
WinStar Farm, LLC's License Fee, another Beverly D. nominee, won the Grade III Just A Game Breeders' Cup Handicap, also run at Belmont Saturday as part of the Belmont Stakes program.
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