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|Arlington Park Stakes Advance: Arlington Million (GI)
Contact: David Zenner
GIO PONTI TO MEET EINSTEIN IN ARLINGTON MILLION MATCH-UP SATURDAY; ‘PASSION’, EUROPEAN INVADERS TO CHALLENGE THAT SIMPLIFIED SCENARIO
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Aug. 4, 2009) –Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein, Thoroughbred racing’s grass guru of recent seasons in North America, is suddenly perceived as vulnerable and has been made the 4-1 second choice in the morning line for Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million.
Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti, North America’s rapidly rising turf superstar, appears the heir apparent – poised for his knockout punch Saturday in Arlington Million XXVII with the 5-2 favorite’s mantle on his shoulders.
But is it that simple? Doesn’t Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well deserve a chance for a second straight win over Arlington’s world-famous turf course? What about Patricia Generazio’s Presious Passion with his catch-me-if-you-can speedy style?
Also, in relation to European-based globetrotting invaders like Teruya Yoshida’s Cima de Triomphe, Stefan Friborg’s Gloria de Campeao and Peter Harris’s Stotsfold – can any serious handicapper throw them out? Remember, Europeans finished first, second and third in the 2008 Arlington Million.
For that matter, the two other North American-based horses – Circle E Racing’s Mr. Sidney and Louie Roussel III and Ronnie Lamarque’s Recapturetheglory – were both winners in their most recent trips to the post and appear to be approaching the best turf form of their careers. Can either of them be eliminated from consideration?
These are just some of the questions that will face international handicappers and guests of Arlington Park when they attend Saturday’s Arlington Million – centerpiece event of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season
The 27th running of the Arlington Million, which has attracted nine of the world’s best turf horses, will go to the post late in the afternoon, preceded by the 20th anniversary edition of the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes for eight of the world’s best grass-favoring fillies and mares, including three Europeans, and the 33rd running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes with 10 North American-based sophomores and one European invader named.
Together, the only three Grade I races contested in Illinois on an annual basis make up Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing, and this summer’s Arlington Million gets added international prestige because the winner will receive an automatic invitation to the Group I Japan Cup when it is run in Tokyo later in the year.
Also, the winner of the Million is offered a starting position in this year’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf under the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” format.
Recent past performances of Arlington Million XXVII contenders are headlined by Gio Ponti’s three straight wins in Grade I competition, but Einstein has won the last two renewals of Churchill’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and been compromised by a rash of troubled trips in most of his other outings. Ramon Dominguez rides Gio Ponti for trainer Christophe Clement and Julien Leparoux handles the reins aboard Einstein for conditioner Helen Pitts-Blasi.
Irish-bred Cima de Triomphe finished fourth in Great Britain’s Group I Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on July 4 but won the Group III Brigadier Gerard Stakes before that. Christophe Lemaire rides for trainer Luca Cumani.
Brazilian-bred Gloria de Campeao won the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup for trainer Pascal Bary in his last start May 17 and was second in the Grade I Dubai World Cup last March 28. Regular jockey Tiago Josue Pereira comes to America for the mount.
Presious Passion won his second straight Grade I United Nations Stakes at Monmouth in his last start July 4 for trainer Mary Hartmann. Elvis Trujillo returns in the irons.
Mr. Sidney, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, won Churchill’s Grade II Firecracker Handicap in his last start July 4 and gets Kent Desormeaux in the saddle.
Just as Well won the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 11 in the Chicago oval’s final local prep for Saturday’s Million. Owner Jonathan Sheppard is also the horse’s Hall of Fame trainer and Arlington-based jockey E. T. Baird gets the riding assignment.
British-bred Stotsfold won France’s Group III La Coupe Stakes at Longchamp June 18 at last asking, will be ridden Saturday by Adam Kirby and is trained by Walter Swinburn, who won the 1994 Beverly D. astride Maktoum Al Maktoum’s Hatoof during his riding career.
Recapturetheglory won over the local lawn in his last start July 16, won the Grade II Illinois Derby last year and then finished fifth in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Co-owner Roussel is also the trainer and has obtained the riding services of Garrett Gomez, Eclipse Award-winning jockey the last two years and also Arlington jockey champion in 1997.
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 98-day meet in 2009 from Friday, May 1 through Sunday, Sept. 27. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates 10 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, Tad’s Sports Bar & Grill featuring Trackside OTB in South Beloit and Salerno-Pincente Ristorante featuring Trackside OTB in Hodgkins. Information on Arlington Park can be found online www.arlingtonpark.com.
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