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Arlington Park

Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/25/07)

Contact: Graham Ross


The “Market” closed up sharply late last Sunday – predicating solid gains for Chicago’s upcoming silver anniversary edition of the Arlington Million on Aug. 11.

Allowed to settle early, Pam and Martin Wygod’s After Market found another gear with a strong stretch rally and won Sunday’s Grade I Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar by a length and a half. The Southern California nine-furlong test serves as the West Coast’s final barometer for grass-running Thoroughbreds under consideration for Arlington Park’s 10-furlong Grade I Arlington Million.

Is an appearance in the Arlington Million the next step for After Market, a 4-year-old homebred son of Storm Cat out of a Rahy mare who won Hollywood’s Grade I Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap in his previous start June 9?

“That’s the plan,” said After Market’s trainer John Shirreffs in post race comments during the Eddie Read’s winner’s circle ceremonies.

That plan, should it come to fruition, could add a bump in the yellow brick road of 2006 Arlington Million hero The Tin Man. That Ralph and Aury Todd color bearer, on a quest to become the first horse in history to win the Million twice in successive seasons, was narrowly defeated by Out of Control, owned by T N T Stud and conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, when they met in Hollywood Park’s Grade II American Invitational Handicap June 30. The Brazilian-bred Out of Control, while easily second best in Sunday’s Eddie Read, could not stay with After Market in the stretch run.

Another update on the road to the 2007 Arlington Million was registered last Saturday on the home grounds of Arlington’s world famous turf course. Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut won Chicago’s Grade III Arlington Handicap for the second straight summer in the Million’s final major local prep race. A year ago Cosmonaut came back and finished fifth behind The Tin Man in the Million, but was only beaten three lengths after experiencing trouble at the start.

“I think he’s a better horse than he was last year,” said Cosmonaut’s trainer Patrick Biancone immediately after last weekend’s Arlington Handicap. “We ran in (last year’s) Arlington Million and were only beaten (three lengths). Hopefully, we’ll come back (in the upcoming Million) and run better.”

A third Arlington Million update came from north of the border last Sunday when William Sorokolit’s Sky Conqueror won Woodbine’s Grade II Northern Dancer Stakes. Sky Conqueror won Churchill’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day, May 5, in one of the first annual steps on the road to the Million.

Sky Conqueror’s trainer Darwin Banach mentioned the Arlington Million as one of three possibilities for Sky Conqueror’s next trip to the post.

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 each summer are the only Grade I events run in Illinois on an annual basis.

In Arlington’s final major local prep for the upcoming Beverly D. Stakes, Elisabeth Alexander’s Bridge Game rallied strongly in the stretch run to capture last Saturday’s Grade III Modesty Handicap by a length and a half. Trainer Graham Motion was not on hand locally for his filly’s Modesty score, and Bridge Game’s Beverly D. status has not been finalized.

Also, in last Saturday’s Grade II American Derby, middle leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple, Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Lattice proved best by three-quarters of a length and appears on track to return for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes as the third leg of the Triple on Arlington Million Day.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, conditioner of Lattice, instructed traveling assistant Scott Welsh to leave Lattice’s papers at Arlington – an excellent indicator that Lattice’s Secretariat Stakes status is probable.

“He’s a nice colt and he’s getting better every time,” said jockey Robby Albarado after guiding Lattice to his three quarter-length win in the American Derby.

Kindred Thoroughbreds LLC’s Going Ballistic and Donie Burke’s Eighteenthofmarch, second and third respectively in the American Derby, are also not to be discounted as possibilities for the Secretariat – a mile and a quarter test that has often served as a precursor of future Arlington Millions.

“We got jammed up and I was stuck for a second before I could get out,” said Going Ballistic’s jockey Cliff Berry of his runner-up trip in the American Derby. “It might have been enough to cost me the race.”

Jockey James Graham, astride third-place American Derby runner Eightheenthofmarch, overlooked in the wagering at 56-1, was also looking forward to another chance against that kind of competition.

“My horse ran his heart out,” Graham said. “He’d been training good and I thought he’d run a big race. He made a nice late run. He’ll go a mile and a half if they ask him to.”

However, also last Saturday, Peachtree Stable’s Red Giant defeated Richard Santulli’s Strike a Deal by a nose in Colonial Downs’ Grade II Virginia Derby, moving both of those turf-favoring sophomores closer to consideration for Arlington’s Secretariat.

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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