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Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/13/04)

Contact: Graham Ross

In today's afternoon notes:


Arlington Million candidate Powerscourt, favored in the early betting among the European invaders for Chicago's centerpiece Thoroughbred event, galloped Friday morning over the Arlington lawn in a final preparation for Saturday's showcase race.

Two other Aidan O'Brien trainees -- Beverly D. prospect Necklace and Secretariat Stakes runner Moscow Ballet -- also had their final moves over the Arlington lawn prior to Saturday's International Festival of Racing which features those three races as the only Grade I events offered in Illinois on an annual basis.

Irish jockey Jamie Spencer, who will ride all three in the Festival and was aboard two of them for Friday's tune-ups, offered brief assessments of all three back at the International Barn shortly after their moves.

"Powerscourt seemed fine," said Spencer when speaking of the 4-year-old son of Sadler's Wells owned by Mrs. John Magnier. "He's in good form now. Hopefully, the visor he will be wearing will improve him even a little more. I'm not happy he's been made the favorite in Europe. I think sometimes it's a jinx."

Powerscourt comes into the Arlington Million off a runner-up finish in the Group I Bayerisches Zuchtrennen in Germany at Munich Aug. 1

"Necklace also went well this morning," said Spencer, speaking of Michael Tabor & Mrs. John Magnier's sophomore filly who will challenge older fillies and mares in the sister race to the Million. "I haven't seen the final declarations (Beverly D. field), but if Necklace runs to her 2-year-old form, she has a good chance."

Necklace, who was clocked in :40.80 for three-furlongs during her breeze with the "dogs" well out from the rail, was fourth in Epsom Downs' Group I English Oaks in her last start June 4.

Michael Tabor & Mrs. John Magnier's Moscow Ballet, trainer Aidan O'Brien's Secretariat starter, was timed in :40.80 for three-eighths during his Friday turf gallop with the "dogs" up, but was ridden during his exercise by Anne-Marie Feighery. However, Spencer has the riding assignment in the Secretariat.

"He's in good form," said Spencer. "He loves the sharp (firm) track here, and he'll love the bends of this course."

Moscow Ballet was seventh in the Group I Irish Derby at last asking June 27, but won Royal Ascot's listed Hampton Court Stakes 10 days earlier.


If at first German jockey Andrasch Starke does not succeed, he tries again.

Starke has ridden in the United States before, finishing eighth astride Gary A. Tanaka's Caitano in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, but he didn't get to Chicago to ride Caitano when that horse finished fourth in the 2001 Arlington Million.

This year, however, Starke has arrived in The Windy City to ride Tanaka's Epalo in the Arlington Million, and took the train in town Thursday to look around downtown.

"It was raining when I got there," said Starke Friday morning after training hours, "so I'm going to take the train in today to try to look around Chicago again. I haven't gotten to do much traveling here, but the German horses have gotten better in the last couple of years, so it's been a great new experience for me and I'm enjoying it.

"I think Epalo has a chance to run very well in the Million," said Starke. "He's been training very well, so I hope I'll get to make my first visit to your winner's circle on Saturday."


Monty Roberts -- "The Man Who Listens to Horses" -- is also the owner of Arlington Million candidate Sabiango, and in both capacities he was a guest on "Breakfast at Arlington" Friday morning on the apron of the grandstand.

Roberts revolutionized the training of animals by learning the language of horses and learning to communicate with them.

"The language of horses is a silent language," said Roberts Friday morning. "It's a language of gestures, not sounds. I don't 'whisper' to them."

Several anecdotes Roberts offered Friday morning at Breakfast at Arlington concerned his film career as a stuntman, which began when as a 9-year-old lad he donned a wig and served as a double for Elizabeth Taylor during the riding scenes in "National Velvet."

"I didn't know who Elizabeth Taylor was and nobody else knew her either," said Roberts. "It was her first film. All I did was jump horses over fences."

Later in his film career, Roberts did get to know James Dean during the filming of Dean's first film "East of Eden," and those two young men became friends.

"He lived with me for four months before that first film," said Roberts. "He was a great kid. He was on his way to see me when he was killed."

Dean, a Hollywood film idol of the '50s, was killed at 24 years of age in a head-on collision outside Cholame, California, on Sept. 30, 1955.

"He never got to see 'Giant,' his last film," said Roberts. "He was killed before it was released."


Ingeborg von Schubert & Gary A. Tanaka's Aubonne is listed at 30-1 on the morning line of Saturday's Grade I Beverly D. at a mile and three-sixteenths over the Arlington Park lawn, but one wouldn't know it from trainer Eric Libaud's demeanor late this week.

"All goes well," Libaud said, speaking in French on the Arlington apron Thursday after his German-bred filly toured the course. "Yes, she is in good form now, and I'm very happy."

Campaigned exclusively in France this year, Aubonne won the Group III La Coupe Stakes at Longchamp in her last trip to the post June 17.

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