Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/8/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
BRITISH-BRED FAMOUS NAME NOW CONSIDERED FOR ARLINGTON MILLION; IRISH-BRED SANS FRONTIERES ALSO POSSIBLE AFTER NEWMARKET WIN
Juddmonte Farms’ jubilation following their one-two finish in Royal Ascot’s Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes June 16 may also allow Ireland’s all-time leading trainer Dermot Weld the chance to saddle the first Grade I Arlington Million winner of his stellar international career.
That’s because the Juddmonte Farms of Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Byword, hero of the Prince of Wales’s, and Juddmonte’s Twice Over, runner up in that test but subsequent winner of Sandown’s Group I Coral-Eclipse July 3, both appear headed to the Group I Juddmonte International at York August 17.
That leaves a third Juddmonte color bearer, the Irish-bred Famous Name – trained by Weld – as a prominent possibility for the Arlington Million Aug. 21, according to Alastair Donald, director of the International Racing Bureau.
Famous Name, who won the Group III Amethyst Stakes in his last race May 9 at Leopardstown on the Emerald Isle, and Leopardstown’s $57,000 Heritage Stakes before that on April 18, is increasingly likely to be the Prince’s designated Arlington Million runner. Other than Dotsam Stable, who won the Million twice with the legendary John Henry, Juddmonte Farms is the only two-time winning owner of the Million, having annexed the 2000 Million with Chester House and coming back two years later to win the 2002 renewal with Beat Hollow.
Weld, on the other hand, saddled Bertram Firestone and Allen Paulson’s Theatrical to finish 10th in the 1986 Million as the choice in the wagering but also saddled Shadwell Stable’s Muakaad to finish sixth in 2001 as a 15-1 longshot.
Also suddenly possible as a European representative in Arlington Million XXVIII is Sir Robert Ogden’s Sans Frontieres, who upset Great Britain’s Group II Princess of Wales’s Stakes Thursday at Newmarket, and closed with a strong rush to be best by a half-length.
Although sent to the post at 14-1, Sans Frontiere’s trainer Jeremy Noseda was not surprised at the outcome.
“He’s always been a classy horse but unfortunately got injured prior to Royal Ascot (2009) and had to have the year off,” Noseda said. “He took a bit of getting fit in the spring. His last two efforts (fourth in Royal Ascot’s Group III Hardwicke Stakes and sixth in Cheltenham’s Group III Huxley Stakes) were my fault. He showed a glimmer he was back at Ascot. I thought he’d finish in the first three today.”
Other European-based runners being pointed for this summer’s Arlington Million now less than seven weeks away include Peter Harris’s Stotsfold, third beaten less than a length and a half in last summer’s Arlington Million, and Michael Kerr-Dineen’s Stimulation, fourth in Royal Ascot’s Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June.
Team Valor International’s Gitano Hernando, sixth in the Grade I Dubai World Cup last March 27, was being pointed for the Arlington Million but was taken out of training last month due to soreness from a splint problem.
Of course, North American-based horses being pointed for the 2010 Arlington Million are headed by Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti, defending champion of the 2009 Arlington Million, and Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well, who was last summer’s runner-up.
Gio Ponti is slated to go to the post as the odds-on choice in the wagering in Saturday’s Grade I Man o’War at Belmont Park, and Just as Well is scheduled to be well-regarded in the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 17.
Starlight Partners’ Take the Points, winner of last summer’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes, and Bertram Firestone’s Winchester, hero of the 2008 Secretariat, remain on schedule for a run in this summer’s Million following second and third-place finishes respectively in Monmouth’s Grade I United Nations Stakes July 3.
Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, winner of Churchill’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day May 1, breezed five furlongs in 1:02 flat at Churchill Tuesday in preparation for the Arlington Handicap July 17 as the designed prep for the Million.
Arlington Million XXVIII – centerpiece of the 2010 Chicago Thoroughbred racing season – will go to the post late in the afternoon on the third Saturday in August, preceded by the 20th renewal of the Grade I Beverly D. for many of the world’s best fillies and mares. Completing Arlington’s International Festival of Racing on that day will be the 34th running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes restricted to 3-year-olds of international turf caliber. Together, they are the only three Grade I races offered in Illinois on an annual basis.
Helen Alexander’s Acoma and Barbara Hunter’s Keertana, fourth and fifth respectively in Churchill’s Grade III Locust Grove July 3 when both were beaten less than a half-length for the win, remain on track for the Beverly D. as the Arlington Million’s sister race.
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 91-day meet in 2010 from Thursday, April 29 through Sunday, Sept. 26. 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 Waukegan, Shooters Bar & Grill at Don Carter Lanes featuring Trackside Rockford, 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, Salerno-Pincente Ristorante featuring Trackside OTB in Hodgkins and Sundance Saloon featuring Trackside OTB in Waukegan. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.