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Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/26/06)

Contact: Graham Ross


West Coast invaders for Arlington Million XXIV – the upcoming centerpiece of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season to be contested Aug. 12 – have begun to sort themselves out following last Sunday’s Grade I Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar.

Ballygallon Stud Ltd.’s Aragorn, who drew off late to post a four-length triumph in the nine-furlong Eddie Read, Southern California’s final prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, gave some indication with that effort that the mile and a quarter-distance of the Million might be a reasonable assignment for the 4-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway.

Aragorn’s Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale indicated in post-race comments that either the Arlington Million or Del Mar’s Grade II Del Mar Breeders’ Cup Aug. 26 at one mile are both possibilities for Aragorn’s next start. The British-born but American-based conditioner indicated that a final decision on the Read winner’s next start would not be made for at least another week.

Drysdale also has Tom Baxter’s Fourty Niners Son, fourth under the wire in Sunday’s Eddie Read but disqualified and placed fifth, nominated to the upcoming Arlington Million on the second Saturday in August. That Kentucky homebred was third in last summer’s Million.

Interestingly, Drysdale also saddled Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Storming Home to be first under the wire in the 2003 Million, but that horse was subsequently disqualified and placed fourth for interference after ducking out sharply in the final strides.

Red Oak Stable’s Sweet Return, who made the pace in Sunday’s Eddie Read before weakening late to finish second, is also an Arlington Million nominee again this year, and his Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally has indicated that the 2006 Million will be his next start.

Sweet Return, a British-bred 6-year-old, is a veteran of the last two Arlington Millions, finishing seventh last summer and eighth the year before that.

Another California-based Arlington Million veteran, Ralph and Aury Todd’s The Tin Man, winner of Hollywood’s Grade II American Invitational Handicap in his last start July 2, is also being aimed at this summer’s running, according to his Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.

The Tin Man, second in the Grade I Dubai Duty Free in the United Arab Emirates last March in his previous start, finished sixth in the 2003 Million.

Another two-time previous Arlington Million participant – Gary Tanaka’s Touch of Land – captured the Group II Grand Prix de Vichy by a length and a half over that French course July 19 and has joined the list of expected European-based Arlington Million starters next month.

Touch of Land, bred in France and conditioned by Frenchman Henri-Alex Pantall, finished 11th in the 2003 Million but was a creditable fifth in last summer’s running despite being caught behind rivals in the stretch run.

Last Saturday in Chicago, in the final major local prep for the upcoming Arlington Million, Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut led throughout to score by two and one half-lengths in the Grade III Arlington Handicap.

Patrick Biancone, the internationally prominent conditioner of Cosmonaut, said Sunday morning that plans call for Cosmonaut to run back in Chicago’s showcase event, attempting to become the first horse in history to win both the Arlington ‘Cap and the Million.

Sam-Son Farm’s Sky Classic, winner of the 1992 Arlington Handicap, finished second by a head to Henri Chaloub’s Dear Doctor in the 1992 Arlington Million, and Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s Fanmore, hero of the 1994 Arlington ‘Cap, finished second by three-quarters of a length to Masayuki Nishiyawa’s Paradise Creek in that year’s Million.

More recently, Gary Tanaka’s Falcon Flight took down winning honors in the 2002 Arlington ‘Cap, and then finished fifth, but beaten less than a half-length for the win, in a five-horse photo finish in the 2002 Million.

Also during Arlington’s Million Preview Day program last Saturday, S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership’s Chic Dancer captured the Grade III Modesty Handicap, the final major local prep for the upcoming Grade I Beverly D. Aug. 12, the Million’s sister race restricted to fillies and mares.

Chic Dancer, a local heroine who has never raced outside of Illinois, will be pointed toward the Beverly D., according to her trainer Christine Janks, Arlington’s top stakes trainer this year.

The latest European-based member of the distaff set to join the prospective cast for the upcoming Beverly D. is the British-bred Rising Cross, owned by Gary Tanaka, third in the Group I Darley Irish Oaks July 16 and runner-up in Great Britain’s Group I Vodafone Oaks at Epsom before that on June 2.

Also considered a European-based Beverly D. possible starter is Malih Albasti’s Nasheej, fifth in Newbury’s Group I UAE Racing Federation Falmouth Stakes July 12 and third in the Group I Coronation Stakes June 23 during Great Britain’s Royal Ascot meeting.

At Del Mar last Saturday in the Grade I John C. Mabee Handicap – the West Coast’s last major Beverly D. prep – Beverly D. nominee Moscow Burning, owned by Bullseye Racing LLC, finished second by a nose and is being considered for Arlington’s top-tiered feminine feature.

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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