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|Arlington Park Road to the Million (6/20/07)
Contact: Graham Ross
ARLINGTON’S ANNOUNCER EYED ARLINGTON MILLION EARLY; CAN GERMANY’S QUIJANO SUCCEED SILVANO 6 YEARS LATER?
Sooner or later every summer, any fan of Thoroughbred racing on its worldwide level is going to come up with his or her personal pick for the Arlington Million. It has become an annual rite of passage – like trying to pick the Kentucky Derby winner earlier each spring.
However, Arlington Park announcer John G. Dooley, an Arlington Heights resident who has described the action for racing fans all over the world in every Arlington Million run this millennium, tabbed his personal choice for Arlington’s 2007 Million last January 25.
As the Grade I showcase event of Chicago’s Thoroughbred racing season, the Arlington Million will celebrate its silver anniversary edition August 11 – a date less than eight weeks away – but Dooley selected his long range candidate for 2007 Arlington Million glory six months ago after watching the first day of Dubai’s International Racing Carnival meeting.
At the time, Dooley was in residence at his winter base in New Orleans, where he has additional duties as the public address announcer at Fair Grounds Racecourse – half a world away from the Middle East’s United Arab Emirates.“I made a point to get to work early that morning so that I could watch the simulcast of the races from Dubai,” Dooley said. “I like to watch those races closely, because they often have a big impact on our International Festival of Racing here at Arlington.
“Suddenly, I noticed a horse walking to the track in Dubai with a jockey wearing silks that were familiar to me,” Dooley said. “I thought they looked exactly like those that Silvano wore when he won the 2001 Arlington Million, so I checked my program, and sure enough, they were the silks of Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof, the same German stable that owned and bred Silvano.
“This horse’s name was Quijano,” Dooley said. “I looked at his past performances, and I saw that he was making his first start of the season, but that he had won his last seven straight while racing in Germany last year.
“The race in Dubai that day was a handicap called the Aman Trophy,” Dooley said, “but Quijano had not started in over four months, so I watched with increasing interest as he raced well in hand during the early going and then drew off to win the race easily by a length and three-quarters.
“Right then I proclaimed him as my Arlington Million selection for this year,” Dooley said. “I think his racing style fits the profile of a Million winner, and it was a lot of fun to try and pick the Arlington Million winner in January.
“I’m glad I set my alarm clock early that day,” concluded Dooley. “It was worth it. Now, if this horse comes to Chicago and wins the Million, I’m going to shut off my microphone in the announcer’s booth at the end of the day, come down to the Arlington press box and take a victory lap around the room!”
For the record, Quijano followed up his January Aman Trophy win with a tally by a nose in Dubai’s Gulf News Trophy February 9, and then extended his winning streak to 10 by capturing the Grade III Intikhab Dubai City of Gold at that same Nad Al Sheba course March 1.
Quijano’s winning streak came to an end when he finished seventh in the Grade I Dubai Sheema Classic March 31, but the 5-year-old gelding by the good German sire Acatenango was beaten less than four lengths by the victorious Vengence of Rain that day – another world class horse who won the Group I Hong Kong Cup in 2005 at Sha Tin.
Quijano is conditioned by Peter Schiergen, a German trainer who brought Gestut Park Wiedingen’s Soldier Hollow to Chicago last summer to finish third in the 2006 Arlington Million. Both of Schiergen’s charges were made original nominations to this summer’s Million before its April 11 closing date, and due to the different ownership, it is entirely possible that both will arrive in the United States some days in advance of the Million on Aug. 11.
Soldier Hollow, in fact, won the Group III Grosser Preis der Wirtschaft last Sunday over Germany’s Dortmund course after finishing third in Italy’s Group I Presidente della Repubblica May 13 in Rome.
Once again this summer, the Arlington Million will be run along with the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds during Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing on the second Saturday in August. Together, those three events that attract some of the world’s best grass runners are the only Grade I events run in Illinois on an annual basis.
As an added bonus this summer, Arlington’s 20th renewal of the $150,000 Sea o’ Erin Mile will also be run over Arlington’s world famous grass course on Arlington Million Day.
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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