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Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/13/05)

Contact: Graham Ross


Some of the European horses invading Chicago soil this summer are coming three weeks earlier than usual, in time for Arlington Park's Million Preview Day July 23.

The same Teutonic connections that came to Chicago to win the Grade I Arlington Million in 2001 with Silvano have scheduled a second invasion: this season in time to try the Grade III Arlington Handicap on July 23 as the last major local rehearsal for Arlington's centerpiece event.

Also, there is a European-campaigned sophomore -- trained by Ireland's all-time leading conditioner Dermot Weld -- increasingly being mentioned for the Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel's on that same afternoon.

Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof's Dayano, who posted a pair of runner-up finishes in Group I company in Europe last year, is scheduled to arrive at O'Hare International Airport late Sunday afternoon and should be housed at Arlington Park's International Barn by nightfall.

And assuming he runs well in the Arlington Handicap at a mile and a quarter over Chicago's world famous turf course, Dayano will run back in Arlington Million XXIII three weeks later at that same distance Aug. 13.

Dayano, like Million champion Silvano, is trained by Andreas Wohler, and is a homebred from what has become Germany's premier breeding facility. Also like Silvano, he is a son of the British-bred stallion Lomitas.

In his only outing this year on April 23, Dayano finished third in Italy's Premio Ambrosiano. That listed stakes at the Milan course was won by Altieri, who went on to run third in Great Britain's Group I Coral-Eclipse at Sandown July 2.

During his sophomore campaign last year, Dayano won Milan's Premio Emanuele Filiberto by two and a half lengths May 9, and came back to run second in Rome's Group I Derby Italiano at a mile and a half May 30 after leading at the mile and a quarter marker.

After that, on Germany's Düsseldorf course July 24, Dayano finished second by a neck in the Group I West LB Deutschlandpreis.

European-breds have done well in recent Arlington Handicaps. Winners among them since the new Millennium include Gary Tanaka's French-bred Falcon Flight in 2002; Barton & Hayes' Irish-bred Make No Mistake in 2001; and 3 Plus U Stables' French-bred Northern Quest in 2000.

Also, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II's Unknown Quantity, Kentucky-bred but European-campaigned, won the Arlington Handicap in 1989.

However, the Arlington Handicap will be only one of three graded races that make up Arlington's Million Preview Day again this summer. Also contested July 23 will be the Grade III Modesty Handicap for fillies and mares as the final local prep for this year's Grade I Beverly D., and the American Derby -- middle leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple -- which previews the Grade I Secretariat Stakes as the final leg of that sophomore series.

The $750,000 Beverly D., sister race to the Arlington Million, and the $400,000 Secretariat will be run along with the Arlington Million as part of the International Festival of Racing on the second Saturday in August.

Weld's 3-year-old is a son of Mr. Greeley named Merger, owned by Dr. Michael Smurfit. Out of the El Gran Senor mare Toledo Queen, the Kentucky-bred finished third in his last start in the listed Budweiser Celebration Stakes at The Curragh in Ireland June 26 and was second by a head in his previous appearance June 8 in Leopardstown's Jockey Club of Turkey Silver Stakes, also on The Emerald Isle.

Although Merger is presently in the United States at Laurel Park in Maryland and was originally scheduled for Colonial Downs' Grade III Virginia Derby July 16, the roan colt has passed on that event and is now a strong possibility for the more prestigious American Derby.

Weld has saddled the champions of the last two American Derbys, winning with Moyglare Stud Ltd.'s Simple Exchange last summer and Evolving Tactics the previous season. The legendary Irish trainer also won the American Derby with Highland Farms et al.'s Pine Dance in 2000, and finished second with Moyglare's Jazz Beat in 2002. That colt was also runner-up in the Secretariat that year.

Arlington Park -- the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- is running a 94-day meet in 2005 from Friday, May 13 through Sunday, Sept. 18. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Lucky's featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at

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