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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Road to the Million (6/27/07)

Contact: Graham Ross


There’s good news from the European front concerning the upcoming silver anniversary edition of the Arlington Million, now a little more than six weeks away.

During gatherings among representatives of international racing last week at Great Britain’s Royal Ascot meeting, increasingly mentioned among the likely European contestants for the upcoming Grade I Arlington Million was the French-bred Doctor Dino, owned by J. M. Salmean and trained by English-born but French-based Richard Gibson.

Most recently, when sent to the post May 20, Doctor Dino finished third in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji, unable to catch the favored Japanese-breds Shadow Gate and Cosmo Bulk, but only beaten a length and a quarter for the win after closing well in the late stages.

Campaigned primarily in his native France during his career, Doctor Dino joined the globetrotting set by traveling to Singapore for that excellent effort in what was only his second start of the year.

Equally impressive was Doctor Dino’s seasonal bow April 29 at Longchamp, when after a layoff of more than five months the 5-year-old son of Muhtahir finished third to last year’s Group I Irish Derby winner Dylan Thomas when beaten less than three lengths for all of it.

Dylan Thomas, owned by Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, is trained by Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien – one of the most ardent European supporters of Arlington Park’s International Festival of Racing in recent seasons.

O’Brien is once again the toast of European Thoroughbred racing based on his success last week at the prestigious 2007 Royal Ascot meeting, where he emerged with four winners, five runner-ups and three third-place runners – a feat unmatched in Royal Ascot’s storied history.

More important to American fans of international racing, however, is the probability that O’Brien’s unprecedented accomplishment last week at Ascot bodes extremely well for European participation in Arlington’s upcoming one-day International Festival Aug. 11.

The centerpiece of Chicago’s Thoroughbred racing season includes the Arlington Million for the world’s best turf runners, the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for grass-favoring fillies and mares from all over the globe, and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds of international caliber. Together the three events are Illinois’ only three Grade I races conducted on an annual basis.

Arlington’s Festival is always very much on the radar for O’Brien, who trained Mrs. John Magnier’s Powerscourt to be first under the wire twice in recent Arlington Millions before being officially recognized as the victor in 2005. He also trained Jayeff B Stables’ Ciro into the winner’s circle after the 2000 Grade I Secretariat Stakes and Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier’s Necklace to finish third in 2004’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes.

Most recently, since Powerscourt’s two-time participation in the Arlington Million, O’Brien sent Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Mrs. Harry McCalmont’s Ace to run sixth in last summer’s renewal, and although victory in the Beverly D. still eludes O’Brien – the Irishman has participated three times – sending Lewis Lakin’s Alluring to finish sixth in 2000, and Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier’s Mona Lisa to run seventh in 2005 before and after Necklace’s third-place Beverly D. finish in 2004.

Also, in addition to Ciro’s Secretariat Stakes success, O’Brien sent out Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier’s France to run fourth in 2003, that partnership’s Moscow Ballet to finish third in 2004, and most recently that same ownership’s Grand Central to run fourth in 2005.

It is still too soon to tell what cards O’Brien will be playing at Chicago’s showcase oval on the second Saturday in August this summer, but among his Royal Ascot trumps was a one-two-three finish in the Group I St. James’s Palace Stakes for 3-year-olds in advance of this summer’s 31st running of the Secretariat.

That sophomore sweep included Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Matthew Green’s Excellent Art as the winner, who was followed by Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Duke of Marmalade in second and Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Astronomer Royal in the third spot.

O’Brien made seven original nominations to this summer’s silver anniversary edition of the Arlington Million, and eight to the 18th running of the Beverly D.

North American-based Arlington Million possible starters will continue to sort themselves out this weekend when defending Arlington Million champion The Tin Man, owned by Ralph and Aury Todd, is expected to go for a repeat win in Hollywood’s Grade I American Invitational Handicap on Saturday, and Canadian-based Million possibilities go to the post in Woodbine’s Grade II King Edward Cup on Monday.

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

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