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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/18/07)

Contact: Graham Ross


The local focus serves as the big picture Saturday when Arlington Park hosts its final major local preps for Chicago’s upcoming International Festival of Racing next month.

The International Festival of Racing, centerpiece event of Chicago’s Thoroughbred racing season, will be held at Arlington Park Aug. 11, and features the silver anniversary edition of the Arlington Million this summer.

Again this year, 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 as a one-day event. Together, those three events that annually attract some of the world’s best grass runners are the only Grade I events run in Illinois on an annual basis.

Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Handicap, Grade III Modesty Handicap and Grade II American Derby, presented by Jack Daniel’s, serve to preview local candidates for the Arlington Million, the $750,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes respectively three weeks later.

Heading this weekend’s Arlington Handicap is Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut, who won this event last season before finishing fifth in the 2006 Arlington Million. The Patrick Biancone trainee must shoulder the top impost of 121 pounds in Saturday’s preview.

In Saturday’s Modesty ‘Cap, defending champion Chic Dancer, owned by S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership, is expected to participate but gets in with 115 pounds after finishing second in each of her three Arlington starts this summer.

Saturday’s American Derby for sophomores is also the middle leg of Arlington Park’s Mid-America Triple and will feature Edward Evans’ Pleasant Strike. That homebred son of Smart Strike captured the Grade III Arlington Classic, presented by Woodford Reserve June 23 as first leg of the Triple in handy fashion, coming home three and three-quarter lengths in front.

Pleasant Strike is conditioned by Todd Pletcher, Eclipse Award-winning trainer of the last three years.

However, Ireland’s all-time leading trainer, Dermot Weld, has shipped Moyglare Stud Farm’s Perfect Casting across the Atlantic Ocean to challenge Pleasant Strike in Saturday’s American Derby.

The son of Diesis, a winner of his last two starts in Ireland this summer, arrived in Chicago late Tuesday night and is scheduled to be ridden by Irish jockey Patrick Smullen in Saturday’s test.

Weld has won two of the last four renewals of the American Derby with Moyglare runners, taking the 2003 edition with Evolving Tactics and the 2004 running with Simple Exchange. He also captured the 2000 American Derby with Highland Farms et al’s Pine Dance, and finished second in 2002’s American Derby and Secretariat with Moyglare’s Jazz Beat.

The Mid-America Triple concludes with the Secretariat Stakes. The three graded races have not been swept since Robert Schaedle III’s Honor Glide won all three legs in 1997.

However, while the American-based picture for Arlington Park’s International Festival of Racing will come into better focus this weekend, there are significant updates on the European front as of July 18.

The Arlington Million has gained an added prospective starter following Gary Tanaka’s recent purchase of the Irish-bred Sudan. Tanaka, an avid supporter of international racing as well as the Chicago oval’s Festival, bought the 4-year-old son of Peintre Celebre with the upcoming Million in mind. Sudan, who won Italy’s Group I Gran Premio di Milano at last asking June 17 for conditioner Ellie Lellouche, will now be trained by Michael Jarvis.

As a sophomore last summer, Sudan was runner-up in Longchamp’s Group III Prix du Lys and third in the Group I Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris on that same historic French course.

The Tanaka/Jarvis tandem has already penciled in their Soviet Star colt Pressing for an engagement in the Arlington Million and appear to be reinforcing that entry. Pressing, another Irish-bred 4-year-old, was most recently fifth in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes June 20 during England’s Royal Ascot meeting.

Also as late news from the Festival’s European front, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and the Niarchos Family’s Admiralofthefleet has been added to the prospective field for the Secretariat Stakes Aug. 11.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the sophomore faced his elders in England’s Group I Coral-Eclipse Stakes July 7 at Sandown and accredited himself well with a solid fifth-place finish. Although well beaten in the Group I Epsom Derby before that June 2, Admiralofthefleet won the Group III Aktiv Kapital UK Ltd. Dee Stakes at Chester on May 11.

Bred by Quay Bloodstock and The Niarchos Family in Kentucky, Admiralofthefleet is a son of Danehill out of a Mr. Prospector mare.

In addition to Arlington’s annual Grade I troika Aug. 11, as an added attraction to Arlington’s International Festival program for the first time this summer is a fourth stakes – the 20th renewal of the Sea o’ Erin Mile. That grass test served as the final local prep for the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile when Arlington hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in 2002.

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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