Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/20/11)
Contact: Graham Ross
‘CAPE’, TAZEEZ, ‘WIGMORE’ TOP EUROPEANS LIKELY FOR MILLION XXIX; RIVER JETEZ, ‘LADY’ FOR BEVERLY D.; SALTAS, ZIYARID IN SECRETARIAT
Suddenly, the connections of a host of European-based horses are making tentative plans to ship across the Atlantic for Arlington Park’s upcoming International Festival of Racing to be run on Saturday, Aug. 13.
Arlington’s one-day International Festival is comprised of the only three Grade I races run in Illinois – the Arlington Million over Arlington’s world famous turf course, the $750,000 Beverly D. for some of the world’s best grass-favoring fillies and mares, and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds of international turf caliber.
Irish-bred Cape Blanco, the 4-year-old owned by the partnership of Fitri Hay, Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor and trained by Aidan O’Brien, who defeated Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti in Belmont’s Grade I Man o’War Stakes July 9, is expected to come to Chicago for Arlington Million XXIX and match strides with Gio Ponti once again.
Gio Ponti, trained by French-born Christophe Clement, finished second in last year’s Million, but won the 2009 edition and could become only the second horse in history – along with Dotsam Stable’s legendary John Henry – to win the Grade I Arlington Million twice.
However, other European-based horses whose connections are making inquiries about transatlantic shipping for Chicago’s showcase race include Mark Hawtin’s Irish-bred Wigmore Hall, runner-up in last summer’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes, and Shadwell Stable’s Tazeez, third in last summer’s Arlington Million.
Coincidentally, both Wigmore Hall and Tazeez were somewhat compromised by their respective starts during Arlington’s 2010 International Festival. Wigmore Hall’s most recent trip to the post came in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup in Singapore May 22 but the upcoming Million has always been the goal established by his trainer Michael Bell.
Tazeez, on the other hand, conditioned by last year’s Arlington Million-winning trainer John Gosden, is expected to go to the post in the Great Britain’s Group I Sky Bet York Stakes on the Knavesmire at York this Saturday.
Two other prospective European shippers for the Million – H. R. Mould’s British-bred Ransom Note, trained by Barry Hills and fifth in the prestigious Group I Queen Anne Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting June 14, and Gary Tanaka’s British-bred Forte Dei Marmi, conditioned by Luca Cumani and winner of the $156,000 Dubai Duty Free Stakes last September at Newbury – are also expected to run in the Sky Bet York Stakes on Saturday.
British-bred Sri Putra, owned by H. R. H. Sultan Ahmad Shah and trained by Roger Varian, who was third in the Group I Coral-Eclipse at Sandown July 1 and third in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting June 15, is also under consideration for Arlington Million XXIX, as is the French-bred Zack Hall, owned by Mathieu Offenstadt and trained by Mikel Delzangles, who was fourth in France’s Group I Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at Saint-Cloud in his last start June 26.
European-based fillies and mares whose connections are making shipping inquiries in advance of the Beverly D. Stakes as the Arlington Million’s sister race over the local lawn are headed by the South African-bred River Jetez, owned by Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Amm and Marsh Shirtleff and trained by Michael de Kock.
In her last start July 8 at Newmarket in Great Britain’s Group I Falmouth Stakes at one mile, the 8-year-old mare finished fifth, beaten 3 1/2-lengths for the win, but the race was too short for her favored longer run, there was no strong pace in the race, and she had not run since May 22 when she finished second (beaten a half-length) in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup in Singapore.
Other strong members of the European-based distaff set being considered for the 21st renewal of the Beverly D. are three sophomore fillies – the Irish-bred Barefoot Lady, owned by Mrs. Normal Steel and trained by Richard Fahey, who was third in the Group I Coronation Stakes June 17 during the Royal Ascot meeting; the British-bred Joviality, owned by H. R. H. Princess Haya of Jordan and trained by John Gosden, who finished fourth in Great Britain’s Group I Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket July 8; and the German-bred Danedream, owned by Gestut Burg-Eberstein and conditioned by Peter Schiergen, who won Italy’s Group II Italian Oaks in Milan May 29 and was most recently fifth in France’s Group II Abu Dhabi Prix de Malleret at Saint-Cloud June 26.
Two European-based 4-year-old fillies being considered for the Beverly D. are the Irish-bred Field Day, owned by Ballymacoll Stud and trained by Brian Meehan, who was sixth in Royal Ascot’s Group II Windsor Forest Stakes June 15; as well as the Irish-bred Contradanse, owned by Stephen Stuckey and trained by Luca Cumani, who most recently finished fourth in France’s Group II Prix Corrida at Saint-Cloud May 23.
The connections of European-based sophomores who are considering a transatlantic journey for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes over Arlington’s grass include those of the Irish-bred Colombian, owned by Princess Haya of Jordan and trained by John Gosden, who was fourth in the Group I French Derby at last asking on June 5 at Chantilly; the Irish-bred Ziyarid, owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, who won France’s Group III Prix Daphnis at Longchamp on July 2; and the German-bred Saltas, owned by Gestut Ittlingen and conditioned by Peter Schiergen, who finished third in the Group I German Derby at Hamburg July 3.
Those three would come to challenge All In Stable’s Willcox Inn, who won the prestigious Arlington Classic May 28 and the Grade II American Derby July 9, and is now in a position to become the fourth horse in history to sweep Arlington’s Mid-America Triple with a victory in the Secretariat Stakes.
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run an 86-day meet in 2011 from Friday, May 6 through Sunday, Sept. 25. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates 12 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, Stanley’s Ale House featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin, Nicolino’s featuring Trackside OTB in McHenry, TADS Sports Bar & Grill featuring Trackside OTB in South Beloit, Salerno-Pincente Ristorante featuring Trackside OTB in Hodgkins, Salerno-Pincente Ristorante featuring Trackside OTB in Villa Park and Sundance Saloon featuring Trackside OTB in Waukegan. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.