Arlington Park Road to the Million (8/4/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
HALF-DOZEN EUROPEANS EXPECTED FOR ARLINGTON MILLION XXVIII; DEFENDING CHAMP GIO PONTI, ‘USUAL Q.T.’ AMERICANS STILL ON FENCE
The largest group of European equine invaders in the last seven years remains on schedule for an Atlantic crossing in time for the upcoming Grade I Arlington Million, now two and a half weeks away on Aug. 21.
That list is headed by Kirsten Rausing’s Lady Jane Digby, a 5-year-old mare who defeated male rivals in Germany’s Group I Bayerisches-Zuchtrennen July 25 and would join Allen Paulson’s 1986 Arlington Million winner Estrapade as only the second mare to win the Million if she were successful later this month.
Other European-based Million runners considered probable at this time for the showcase race of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season are William Bellew’s Summit Surge, best by a length and a quarter over the Knavesmire at York in Great Britain’s Group II Sky Bet York Stakes July 24; Godolphin’s Allybar, who finished third by less than three in that same test but was third beaten only two noses in last winter’s Group I Dubai World Cup at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates; HRH Princess Haya of Jordan’s Debussy, fourth in the Sky Bet York a head behind Allybar; Shadwell Stable’s Tazeez, third in Great Britain’s Group II Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket July 8 and third in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes before that on June 16 during the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting; and Juddmonte Farms’ Famous Name, two and a half-length hero of Ireland’s Group III Meld Stakes at Leopardstown in his last start July 22.
A seventh European-based runner, Alan Spence’s Jukebox Jury, fourth in Germany’s Group I Grosser Preis von LOTTO July 17 but only beaten a length for all of it, remains possible but not probable for the Million at this time. The Irish-bred son of Montjeu finished second beaten a half-length in Woodbine’s Grade I Canadian International last October.
Easily heading the list of North American-based possibilities for the Arlington Million is Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti, defending champion from the 2009 Million and in a position to become the first horse in history to win back-to-back renewals of the Chicago classic. However, trainer Christophe Clement remains undecided between another Million run or an attempt at Del Mar’s Grade I Pacific Classic the following Saturday on Aug. 28.
Also on the fence between a start in the Million or the Pacific Classic is trainer James Cassidy, whose 4-year-old gelding The Usual Q. T., owned by Don Van Racing, Michael Nentwig, George Saadeh and Jeffrey Byer, captured Del Mar’s Grade I Eddie Read Stakes on July 24, ran fourth in the United Arab Emirates Group I Dubai Duty Free last March 27 at Meydan, and won the Grade I Hollywood Derby last November.
North American-based runners considered probable for Arlington Million XXVIII at this time include Robert Courtney’s Rahystrada, hero of the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 17 as the designed local prep for the Million, as well as Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well and Shadwell Stable’s Tajaaweed, second and third respectively in that same test.
Other possible starters for the upcoming Arlington Million include Thomas McCarthy’s General Quarters, winner of Churchill’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day May 1; W. C. Racing, Westside Rentals.com and Neil Haymes’s Enriched, third in Del Mar’s Grade II San Diego Handicap July 31 and third behind The Usual Q. T. in the Eddie Read one week earlier; Jean and Ted Barlas and Michael Porcaro’s’s Quite a Handful, a winner in optional claiming company at Indiana Downs July 12 and fifth in Arlington’s $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes May 15; and Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone’s Winchester, third in Monmouth’s Grade I United Nations Stakes July 3 and winner of Belmont’s Grade I Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day June 5 and Arlington’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes in 2008.
Also contested as part of Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing on Arlington Million Day is the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes, which annually attracts some of the world’s best turf-favoring fillies and mares, and the Grade I Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds of international turf caliber.
Together, the Million, $750,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat are the only three Grade I races offered in Illinois on an annual basis.
Expected as the star attraction for the 20th renewal of the Beverly D. as the Arlington Millions’ sister race is William de Burgh’s Tuscan Evening, undefeated in six starts this year – all in graded stakes – including Arlington’s Grade III Modesty Handicap July 17 as the designed local prep for the Beverly D.
Richard Duchossois’ Éclair de Lune, Nelson McMakin’s Hot Cha Cha and Augustin Stable’s Rainbow View, second, third and fourth respectively in the Modesty are all expected back for the Beverly D.
Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma, fourth in Churchill’s Grade III Locust Grove Handicap at last asking July 3 but only beaten a neck for all the money; George Saufley, J. J. Pletcher and Graydon and William Patterson’s Phola, sixth in Saratoga’s Grade I Diana Stakes July 31 but second in Belmont’s Grade I Just a Game Stakes June 5; Juddmonte Farms’ Treat Gently, winner of Delaware’s Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial on July 17 and Belmont’s Grade II Sheepshead Bay May 22; and Michael Tabor’s Turning Top, winner of Hollywood Park’s Grade III Beverly Hills Handicap June 26 are also North American-based expected Beverly D. runners.
Two European-based 4-year-old fillies expected to contest the Beverly D. at this time are the Kentucky-bred Pachattack, owned by M. V. Deegan, trained by Gerard Butler and a winner of her last two starts in listed stakes company in Great Britain; and the British-bred Biased, a French-raced maiden daughter of Haafhd owned by Marquesa de Mortalla and trained by Mikel Delzangles.
Donegal Racing Stable’s Paddy O’Prado, winner of Colonial’s Grade II Virginia Derby at last asking July 17 and the Grade II Colonial Cup before that June 19, remains the long-range favorite for those expected to start in the Secretariat Stakes as the final leg of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple.
However, capable of providing stiff competition for Paddy O’Prado is Estrorace LLC’s Workin for Hops, who won the 75th renewal of the $100,000 Arlington Classic May 22 and the Grade II American Derby July 17 as the first two legs of the local Triple. Should he win the Secretariat, Workin for Hops would become the first horse to sweep the Triple since Robert Schaedle III’s Honor Glide accomplished the feat in 1997.
Wertheimer and Frère’s Interactif, runner-up in the Virginia Derby, and Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, second in the American Derby, are other prominent sophomores being pointed for the Secretariat, as are WinStar Farm’s Doubles Partner, fourth in the Colonial Cup but winner of Churchill’s Grade II American Turf Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day April 30; Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Asbury’s Gleam of Hope, fourth under the wire but placed third in the American Derby and winner of Churchill’s Grade III Jefferson Cup June 12; Craig Family Trust’s Twirling Candy, winner of Del Mar’s $112,000 Oceanside Stakes July 21; Darley Stable’s Hockley, sixth in that same test; and Richard Bassett and Longitude Farm’s Alcomatch, runner-up in Woodbine’s $112,000 Wando Stakes May 8.
European-based sophomores expected for the Secretariat at this time are Godolphin’s Buzzword, winner of the Group I Deutsches Derby at Hamburg July 18; Martin Hawtin’s Wigmore Hall, winner of the $226,000 51st John Smith’s Cup at York July 10; Gestut Ittlingen’s Neatico, 10th in that Deutsches Derby; and Mrs. Anne Coughlan’s Palm Ridge, who broke his maiden in Ireland at Cork on Aug. 1.
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.