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Contact: Graham Ross
CANADIAN JAMBALAYA GETS HOT LATE TO WIN 25TH ARLINGTON MILLION; CAJUN JOCKEY ALBARADO, 1996 ARLINGTON CHAMP, ADDS RIGHT SPICE
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Aug. 11, 2007)—Kingfield Farms’ Jambalaya, third in his last two races in his native Canada, closed resolutely with a bold late surge in Saturday’s 25th running of the Arlington Million, wearing down gallant 9-year-old defending champion The Tin Man, owned by Ralph and Aury Todd, to gain victory by three-quarters of a length in the late stages.
Ridden for the first time Saturday by Lafayette, Louisiana native Robby Albarado – Arlington’s leading jockey in 1996 – Jambalaya was forwardly placed with the 33-year-old rider following instructions to stay close behind The Tin Man. When that popular fan favorite – also the 2-1 betting choice following the race-day morning defection of Pam and Martin Wygod’s After Market – took command from the pacesetting Sunriver in mid-stretch, the crowd and the wagering public roared its approval.
However, their joy was short-lived. Jambalaya had a final gear, and despite The Tin Man’s best effort – which included holding the runner-up position by a nose – Jambalaya’s was better. European invader Doctor Dino, owned by Javier Martinez Salmean, was up in the late stages to gain the third position by a neck from dead-heat fourth-place rivals Sunriver, owned by Aaron and Marie Jones, and Stream Cat, owned by Fab Oak Stable, Bobby Hurley and John Goldthorpe.
“(The trainer) gave me very specific instructions,” said Albarado in post race comments. “I figured I’d try to stay close behind The Tin Man. (Jambalaya) let me have my way, and at every point in the race he was there for me. He’s a great ride and I’m proud of him. It has always been one of my goals to win the Arlington Million and now I’ve accomplished that goal.”
Jambalaya accomplished the mile and a quarter distance over a turf course rated “good” in 2:04.76, following earlier splits of :26.34, :50.88, 1:16.15; and 1:40.57. Jambalaya paid mutuels of $17.20, $6.60 and $3.80. The Tin Man returned $3.80 and $2.60 and French-bred Doctor Dino paid $3.60.
The Tin Man was seeking to become the first back-to-back victor in Arlington Million history, although Dotsam Stable’s John Henry won the inaugural edition in 1981 and returned to the winner’s circle in 1984.
“The turf was a little too soft for him,” said jockey Victor Espinoza after dismounting from The Tin Man. “He tried his best.”
However, Jambalaya and his connections provided plenty of firsts in Arlington Million history. Among them, the 5-year-old gelding goes down as the first Canadian-bred to win Chicago’s showcase test.
Jambalaya also becomes the first Arlington Million winner able to take advantage of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships’ new “Win and You’re In” format. With his Saturday tally, Jambalaya will receive an automatic starting berth in the Grade I John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27.
Jambalaya’s trainer Catherine Day Phillips becomes the first female conditioner to win the Arlington Million, and jockey Albarado becomes the first jockey to be based at Arlington when winning the Million. Albarado has hung his tack locally since Churchill Downs closed its spring meeting in early July.
With his Million victory, Albarado continues the best season of his career after winning Pimlico’s Preakness and Churchill’s Stephen Foster earlier this summer.
The dead-heat for fourth position in Saturday’s renewal was also the first such occurrence in Arlington Million history.
Original morning line favorite After Market was scratched earlier race-day morning due to the projected less-than-firm conditions of the grass course following extensive Chicago-area rains earlier in the week.
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 94-day meet in 2007 from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, Sept. 16. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates nine off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities – Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Chicago, Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Rockford, Trackside Waukegan, Fat Sam’s Bar & Grill featuring Trackside OTB in Lockport, Lucky’s featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin, Nicolino’s featuring Trackside OTB in McHenry and The Inferno featuring Trackside OTB in South Beloit. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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