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|Arlington Park Road to the Million (6/25/08)
Contact: Graham Ross
CURLIN CHURNING ARLINGTON MILLION MIX AFTER CHURCHILL BREEZE; ROYAL ASCOT RACE HAS PRESSING POINTED FOR RETURN IN MILLION XXVI
Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin – suddenly a possibility for this summer’s Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 9 – breezed five furlongs Monday morning at Churchill Downs in 1:03.80. It was the first of several steps that could lead to Curlin’s participation in the centerpiece event of Chicago’s Thoroughbred racing season.
That intriguing but indefinite scenario is scheduled for its next hurdle July 1 when Stonestreet Stable and Midnight Cry Stable’s 4-year-old colt is scheduled for a breeze over Churchill’s Matt Winn turf course.
The Arlington Million is run at a mile and a quarter over Arlington’s world-famous grass course, but Curlin, who won Churchill’s Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap June 14 and the Grade I Dubai World Cup before that last March, has never raced on turf.
The upcoming move over the Louisville lawn next week will allow Curlin’s connections further insight concerning possible participation in the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 12, this summer’s Arlington Million four weeks beyond that, as well as an eventual long-term goal of France’s Group I Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp Oct. 5. Obviously, the chestnut must first show a liking for grass footing in next Tuesday’s training session.
However, as Curlin’s Arlington Million status admittedly remains a matter of some conjecture, European candidates for Chicago’s international showcase began to emerge following Great Britain’s prestigious Royal Ascot meeting last week.
Gary Tanaka’s Pressing, who finished seventh in last summer’s Arlington Million but was beaten less than four by the winner, appears on track for a return engagement on the second Saturday in August. The 5-year-old son of Soviet Star finished fourth in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes June 18 behind the victorious Duke of Marmalade, the Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor color bearer who was accomplishing his third straight Group I success this year.
World-renowned Thoroughbred star Archipenko, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and Dr. A. H. Parker and winner of Hong Kong’s Group I Audemars Piquet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin April 27, remains on track for a run in the upcoming Arlington Million.
Arlington Million nominee Quijano, a German-bred owned by Stiftung Gestut Fahrhoff who was fifth behind Archipenko in Hong Kong, rebounded to capture Italy’s Group I Gran Premio di Milano at San Siro June 15.
However, the Arlington Million is only one of three Grade I races – the only three offered in Illinois on an annual basis – that make up Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing Aug 9. Also run on that day are the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for the world’s best grass-running fillies and mares, and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for turf-favoring sophomores of international caliber.
Veterans of last week’s Royal Ascot extravaganza under possible consideration for the upcoming Secretariat Stakes as the final leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple include Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s Irish-bred Collection, length and a half winner of Royal Ascot’s listed Hampton Court Stakes June 19; and Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s King of Rome, another Irish-bred who was third in the Hampton Court, two lengths behind Collection. Juddmonte Farms Inc.’s Fifteen Love, a half-length the best in the Royal Ascot’s Britannia Stakes, also on June 19, is another Secretariat possibility.
On this side of the Atlantic, possibilities for the 2008 Secretariat include two sons of Tiznow, the California-bred who was twice victorious in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth’s Tizdejavu, winner of Churchill’s Grade II Jefferson Cup June 14 and the Twin Spires oval’s Grade III Crown Royal American Turf May 2, is coming to Arlington for the Grade II American Derby July 12 as the middle leg of Arlington’s Mid America Triple, according to trainer Greg Fox.
Diamond A Racing’s homebred Tiz West won Hollywood’s Grade III Cinema Handicap June 21 and is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, a long time supporter of Arlington’s International Festival of Racing.
Major American preps for the Beverly D., sister race to the Arlington Million, took place in New York and Virginia June 21. Robert Scarborough’s Mauralakana became a millionaire when she took down winning honors by a neck in Belmont’s Grade II New York Stakes for fillies and mares on the grass. Scarborough, who purchased the daughter of Muhtathir for $900,000 at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, plans on sending her to Australia next year but is currently pointing her to the Beverly D. She is trained by Christophe Clement, who saddled Monceaux Stable’s Royal Highness to win last summer’s Beverly D.
Also on June 21, Beverly D. nominee Lady Digby, owned by Earle Mack and trained by Graham Motion, earned her first graded stakes victory with a two and a quarter-length win in the Grade III All Along Stakes for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on the grass at Colonial Downs.
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 96-day meet in 2008 from Friday, May 2 through Sunday, Sept. 21. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates 11 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, The Inferno featuring Trackside OTB in South Beloit, Rookies featuring Trackside OTB in Homewood and Salerno-Pincente Ristorante featuring Trackside OTB in Hodgkins. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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