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Arlington Park Road to the Million (6/28/06)

Contact: Graham Ross


Three traditionally significant previews of this summer’s approaching Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 12 are slated throughout North America during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, but three equally prominent prep races for the Grade I Beverly D. on that same afternoon took place last Saturday, allowing this weekly update to focus on the Arlington Million’s sister race.

Also, from across the Atlantic, the connections of two European sophomores have expressed some interest in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes, the third top-tiered Thoroughbred classic that makes up Arlington Park’s International Festival of Racing on the second Saturday in August, while locally the first leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple -- to conclude with the Secretariat -- will be run Saturday.

In Virginia last weekend, Beverly D. nominee Film Maker, owned by Courtlandt Farms, took command a sixteenth of a mile out and drew off for a three and a quarter-length tally in the Grade III All Along Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Colonial Downs. Beverly D. nominee Latice, an Irish-bred mare owned by Augustin Stable, came from well back to clearly gain the place in that mile and an eighth-turf test while racing wide and could be expected to appreciate the Beverly D.’s mile and three-sixteenths distance.

In New York last Saturday, 2005 Beverly D. champion Angara, a British-bred mare owned by Martin Schwartz, overcame a wide trip to finish a game second to the wire-to-wire winner Noble Stella, owned by Gary Tanaka, in Belmont’s Grade II New York Breeders’ Cup Handicap. Although Tanaka’s German-bred was not an original Beverly D. nominee, there is another nomination date deadline upcoming July 26.

Third in the New York Breeders’ Cup, a length and a quarter behind Angara, was Wildenstein Stable’s Argentina, an Irish-bred mare conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel and an original Beverly D. nominee. Fourth-place finisher Asi Siempre, also owned by Schwartz, is another original Beverly D. nominee.

Out on the West Coast last Saturday, the 4-year-old filly Memorette, owned by Betty Currin, bested her rivals in Hollywood Park’s Grade II Beverly Hills Handicap to surprise both the punters and her connections.

“I don’t know what’s next,” said her excited trainer William Currin, who purchased the filly for his wife last year, “but I won’t be sleeping on the back porch tonight. This filly was a Christmas present to my wife. I didn’t have time to go to the jewelry store, so I gave her this horse.”

In other Beverly D.-related news, Arthur Appleton’s Atlantic Frost won last Sunday’s $42,250 Possibly Perfect Stakes at Arlington Park. The grassy filly and mare feature was designed as a prep for Arlington’s Grade III Modesty Handicap July 22. That mile and three-sixteenth grass event is the last major local prep for the Beverly D.

“She seems to have come back fine, and she’s a very nice mare,” said trainer Mickey Goldfine Monday morning of the winner. “I’m glad they decided to give her back to me to race one more year. We’ll see how she does over the next few days and then maybe look at the Modesty.”

Beverly D. nominee Sobresaliente, owned by Russell L. Reineman Stable Inc., finished third in the Possibly Perfect, while the favored Beverly D.-nominated Cursora, an Argentine-bred recently purchased by Katsumi Yoshida, weakened to fifth while making her first start of the year.

“She got tired,” said trainer Ken McPeek Monday morning, speaking over the phone from Kentucky about Cursora, who won two Group I races in her native Argentina last fall. “It was asking a lot of her to go a mile and an eighth her first race back. We’ll give her a few days to see where we’re at with her and take it from there. I’d love to make the Beverly D. with her.”

Concerning long range Secretariat updates, Gary Tanaka’s Proudinsky, a German-bred sophomore, is due to arrive Wednesday at Arlington Park’s Quarantine Barn to compete in Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Classic, presented by Woodford Reserve. The Classic is followed by the Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel’s July 22, and concludes with the Secretariat. Trained by Mario Hofer, Proudinsky was unraced as a juvenile, broke his maiden on April 30 at Dusseldorf, and most recently finished second at Dortmand in a listed stakes May 25.

Proudinsky was excluded from last Saturday’s $1,000,000 Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia in a race won by Lael Stables’ Showing Up, an original Mid-America Triple nominee who races in the same silks as this year’s Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

Also expressing interest in the Secretariat at Great Britain’s Royal Ascot meeting last week was Harry Herbert of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing XXVI, owners of the Giant’s Causeway colt Primary. That Kentucky-bred has raced against such stars as Group I Epsom Derby winner Sir Percy in the past and won the listed Gran Premio d’Italia at Milan by 12 lengths June 17.

Last Sunday at Hollywood Park, Mid-America Triple nominee Genre, a British-bred owned by David and Paula Mueller, captured the Grade III Cinema Breeders’ Cup Handicap, traditionally a proving ground for Secretariat candidates.

Upcoming Arlington Million previews during the coming weekend include Saturday’s Grade II Firecracker Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs, Sunday’s Grade II American Handicap at Hollywood Park, and Monday’s Grade II King Edward Breeders’ Cup at Woodbine.

Also, Arlington Park’s Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders’ Cup Turf, to be contested this Sunday at a mile and a half, has fielded Arlington Million runners in its recent history despite its marathon distance.

Arlington Park -- the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- will run a 95-day meet in 2006 from Friday, May 5 through Tuesday, Sept. 12. 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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