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Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/5/06)

Contact: Graham Ross


American-based nominees to next month’s Grade I Arlington Million XXIV celebrated the Fourth of July holiday weekend with winning graded stakes performances at Eastern, Midwest and Western Thoroughbred ovals.

In the Midwest at Churchill Downs last Saturday, Live Oak Plantation’s Arlington Million nominee Miesque’s Approval circled outside the early leaders for a stretch run and drew clear for a length and a quarter-tally in the Grade II Firecracker Breeders’ Cup Handicap at the Twin Spires oval.

Last Sunday on the East Coast at New York’s Belmont Park, Million nominee Rebel Rebel, an Irish-bred owned by IEAH Stables and Resolute Group Stables, used similar tactics when set down for the drive and rallied boldly to capture the Grade III Poker Handicap by two and a quarter lengths.

Later that same afternoon on the West Coast, 2006 Million nominee and 2003 Million veteran The Tin Man, owned by Aury and Ralph Todd, made the pace and held sway late to win Hollywood’s Grade II American Invitational Handicap by three-quarters of a length.

Meanwhile, even as those traditional Arlington Million stepping stones successfully built suspense toward the centerpiece of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season Aug. 12, the status of Monmouth Park’s Grade I United Nations Handicap -- another major Arlington Million prep scheduled for this Saturday -- remains uncertain as New Jersey State budget woes forced Monmouth Park to close at least temporarily at the end of the business day July 4.

However, there are now significant updates for Arlington Park’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares, and Grade I Secretariat Stakes for sophomores, both also slated during the International Festival of Racing Aug. 12, as Arlington’s Million Preview Day approaches in less than three weeks on July 22.

Arlington’s Grade III Modesty Handicap, last major local prep for the Beverly D., and the Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel’s as the last major local prep for the Secretariat, are both slated as part of the Million Preview Day program.

Three members of the distaff set under consideration for the Modesty all breezed Wednesday morning at Arlington during training hours, with Arthur Appleton’s Atlantic Frost getting a half-mile on the main track in :49.40. That 5-year-old mare won the $42,250 Possibly Perfect Stakes June 25 in a prep for the Modesty.

Going four furlongs over Arlington’s turf course, which was rated “good” Wednesday morning with the “dogs” well out from the rail, were S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s Chic Dancer, victress in Arlington’s $42,375 Reluctant Guest Stakes May 28, who accomplished her move in :48.40, and Wertheimer and Frere’s Stretching, who toured her half-mile breeze in :51.80.

Concerning the American Derby, middle jewel of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple as well as a preview of the Secretariat as the Triple’s final leg, Oxbow Racing LLC’s Kingship remains in a position to become the fourth 3-year-old in history to sweep the Mid-America, and the first since Robert Schaedle’s Honor Glide nine years ago.

“It looks like we’ll stay around for the (American Derby),” said trainer Ronny Werner after Kingship won the Grade III Arlington Classic, presented by Woodford Reserve last Saturday as the first leg of the Triple. “I thought he ran well Saturday, and he came out of the race in good shape, so that looks like the next spot.”

Also apparently slated for an American Derby return, after finishing a nose behind Kingship in the Classic, is the German-bred Proudinsky, owned by Gary Tanaka. The son of 2001 Arlington Million winner Silvano was off slowly in the Classic but rallied gamely in the late stages to miss victory by the bob of a head.

It also now appears increasingly likely that all of the top five Classic finishers -- less than two lengths apart at the wire -- will try the American Derby.

Golden Racing Stables’ Arbuckle Bandit, Team Block’s Creative Force and G Five Stable LLC’s Icy Ridge, third through fifth respectively in the Classic, have all indicated that the American Derby, and in some cases the Secretariat, are being penciled in for their upcoming schedules.

Also now reportedly under consideration for the American Derby is the brilliant French-bred filly Lady of Venice, owned by Martin Schwartz, who may take on the boys of her age group after impressively winning Churchill’s grassy Grade III Regret Stakes by four lengths June 17.

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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