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|Arlington Park Road to the Million (6/13/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
ARLINGTON MILLION CHAMP THE TIN MAN MOVES TO DATE WITH DESTINY; 9-YEAR-OLD GELDING POINTED TOWARD MILLION REPEAT WIN AUG. 11
Once is not enough. Ralph and Aury Todd’s The Tin Man, defending champion in the Grade I Arlington Million, has taken a successful first step down his own yellow brick road toward a repeat win in the showcase event of Chicago’s Thoroughbred racing season to be run August 11.
Although the Arlington Million is celebrating its 25th anniversary edition this summer, so far no horse in its history has ever been able to win it two years in a row. Now, The Tin Man is on course to change all that.
Making his first start in 2007 following a layoff of eight months, Thoroughbred racing’s Grand Old Man came from off the pace to capture Hollywood Park’s Grade I Shoemaker Mile on Memorial Day, stamping himself as the sentimental early favorite for the Arlington Million’s silver anniversary.
One of three Grade I events that make up Arlington Park’s one-day International Festival of Racing on the second Saturday in August, the Arlington Million, run at a mile and a quarter over Arlington’s world famous turf course, will be complemented by the 18th running of the $750,000 Beverly D. for the world’s best grass-favoring fillies and mares, and the 30th renewal of the $400,000 Secretariat, restricted to 3-year-olds of international caliber over turf.
But it is the Million that remains the International Festival’s centerpiece, and The Tin Man who remains the American headliner at the present time.
“He’s better now than he has ever been,” said The Tin Man’s Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella following the win in the Shoemaker Mile. “He’s confident and luckily he is healthy and sound. We might try the Arlington Million again.”
Only the legendary John Henry has been able to win the Arlington Million twice, but those victories were not in succession. After taking the inaugural Arlington Million in 1981 by a nose in a thrilling finish frozen forever in Arlington Park’s “Against All Odds” statue, that Dotsam color bearer returned to win his second Arlington Million (and second Horse of the Year title) in 1984 as a 9-year-old – the same age that The Tin Man is this summer.
Although The Tin Man is one of 68 original nominations to this summer’s Arlington Million, a late nomination date of July 25 is upcoming, and likely to meet that Arlington Million nomination date is Pam and Martin Wygod’s After Market. That 4-year-old son of Storm Cat won Hollywood’s Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap June 9, defeating runner-up Lava Man, an original Arlington Million nominee owned by STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood.
Following After Market’s length and a half victory in the Whittingham, owner Martin Wygod said, “It’s a bit early to know what’s next, but the Arlington Million could be a possibility.”
Another turf star now possible to meet the Arlington Million’s late nomination deadline July 25 is Bushwood Stable LLC’s Better Talk Now, who regained the form shown in previous seasons by capturing the Grade I Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day June 9. Better Talk Now, hero of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2004, the Grade I Man o’ War in 2005 and runner-up by a half-length in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year, has been a participant in the last two renewals of the Arlington Million, finishing fourth in 2005 and seventh last summer.
Second in the Manhattan Handicap June 9, beaten a head, was James Scatuorchio’s English Channel, an original nomination to this summer’s Arlington Million and fourth in last summer’s renewal as the post time favorite. After being victimized by the slow early fractions last summer, English Channel rebounded to win Belmont’s Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational by four and a half lengths and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf to close his season.
Joining The Tin Man in victory on Memorial Day was Gary Tanaka’s Embossed, who captured the Grade III Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park by three-quarters of a length as the odds-on choice of the fans. That Irish-bred 5-year-old ridgling is an original nominee to this summer’s Arlington Million.
In recent action on the upcoming Arlington Million’s European front, 2007 original nominee Soldier Hollow, owned by Gestut Park Wiedingen, was third in Italy’s Group I Premio Presidente della Repubblica in Rome May 13. The British-bred trained by Peter Schiergen was third in last summer’s Arlington Million.
Four members of the distaff set that are original nominations to this summer’s Beverly D. Stakes at mile and three-sixteenths over the Arlington lawn met each other in New York’s Grade II Just A Game Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day, and finished first through fourth in that eight-furlong grass outing.
Irish-bred My Typhoon, owned by Live Oak Plantation, led every step of the way to post a three and three quarter-length score, while pressing the pace throughout and second at the wire was Arindel Farm’s 4-year-old filly Wait a While. Third place in the Just A Game went to Eurowest Bloodstock’s Take the Ribbon, a length and a half behind Wait a While at the wire but a length to the good of the French-bred Mauralakana, owned by Fab Oak Stable, Lewis Lakin, Richard Giacopelli and Maurice Hassan. Interestingly, the last-named filly is also an original Arlington Million nominee.
Out on the West Coast on Memorial Day, Beverly D. nominees Citronnade and the British-bred Price Tag, owned by Stronach Stables Inc. and Juddmonte Farms Inc. respectively, ran one-two in Hollywood’s Grade I Gamely Stakes. Both of those 4-year-old fillies are conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.
Jon and Sarah Kelly’s Vacare, another Beverly D. nominee, finished third in the Gamely.
In Texas on that May 28 holiday, Beverly D. nominee Lady of Venice, a French-bred 4-year-old filly owned by Martin Schwartz, rallied boldly from last place to register a length and three quarter-tally in Lone Star’s Grade III Ouija Board Distaff Handicap.
Schwartz’ silks were posed in the Beverly D. winner’s circle last summer astride the French-bred Gorella and a year earlier aboard the British-bred Angara.
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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