Arlington Park Road to the Million (8/3/11)
Contact: Graham Ross
FIRST INTERNATIONAL EQUINE CHARTER DUE SATURDAY AT O’HARE; OTHER EUROPEAN ‘FESTIVAL’ INVADERS DUE TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY
The first of three scheduled transatlantic equine charters carrying European invaders for Arlington’s International Festival of Racing on Aug. 13 is due in Saturday evening at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Its occupants will be transported by van and bedded down at Arlington Park shortly thereafter Saturday night.
The 29th running of the Arlington Million – matching North America’s best grass runners against a top crop of European invaders over Arlington’s world famous turf course at 10 furlongs, the 22nd running of the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for some of the world’s best grass-favoring fillies and mares at 1 3/16-miles, and the 34th renewal of the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds of international turf caliber at 1 1/4-miles – are the three Grade I races that make up Arlington’s International Festival. Together, they are the only three Grade I races run in Illinois each Thoroughbred racing season.
Expected to be aboard Saturday’s Air France equine charter are Arlington Million prospects Wigmore Hall, owned by Mark Hawtin and trained by Michael Bell; as well as Zack Hall, who races in the silks of Mathieu Offenstadt and is conditioned by Mikel Delzangles.
Wigmore Hall, an Irish-bred, is known to Chicagoans as the runner-up in last summer’s Secretariat Stakes and was beaten less than four lengths in his last start in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup May 22, while the French-bred Zack Hall was most recently fourth beaten 2 1/2-lengths in France’s Group I Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud June 26.
Also expected to be aboard Saturday’s Air France charter is the Beverly D.-bound South-African-bred River Jetez, owned by Barbara and Cedrick Amm and Marsh Shirtliff and trained by legendary South-African conditioner Michael de Kock.
A globe-trotting 8-year-old mare, River Jetez was beaten less than three-quarters of a length when second in Meydan’s Group I Dubai Duty Free March 26, was beaten less than three-lengths for the win in Sha Tin’s Group I Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong May 1 and then by a half-length when runner-up in Kranji’s Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup in Singapore May 22. The daughter of the aptly named South African stud Jet Master returned to competition to finish a fast-closing fifth in Great Britain’s one-mile Group I Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket July 4, a distance considered too short for her best run.
A second Air France equine charter is scheduled to arrive at O’Hare on Tuesday evening with His Highness the Aga Khan’s Studs’ Secretariat Stakes runner Ziyarid on its manifest. Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Ziyarid was bred in Ireland but has campaigned exclusively in France during his six lifetime starts. In his most recent trip to the post, the homebred captured the Group III Prix Daphnis at Longchamp by a neck on July 2 for his third straight trip to the winner’s circle.
The third European equine charter is due in on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 10, carrying the contingent of the ubiquitous Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s European Festival invaders. The most certain to be aboard that flight is Arlington Million projected favorite Cape Blanco, the Irish-bred European-based campaigner owned by Mrs. Fitriani Hay, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor.
Cape Blanco has already made two Atlantic crossing this summer, journeying to New York to defeat 2009 Arlington Million winner Gio Ponti, owned by Castleton Lyons, in Belmont’s Grade I Man o’War Stakes July 9 before returning to Ireland.
Gio Ponti, the runner-up in last summer’s Arlington Million who is conditioned by French-born Christophe Clement, is expected to head the North American-based contingent in his rematch with Cape Blanco.
Other North American-based 2011 Million runners include Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada, the Scooter Hughes trainee who won the 2010 Grade III Arlington Handicap and was fourth in last summer’s Arlington Million; Shadwell Stable’s Tajaaweed, the Dan Peitz trainee who was sixth in last summer’s Million but won this summer’s Arlington Handicap on July 9; Naipaul and Terikchand Chatterpaul’s Mission Approved, trained by Naipaul Chatterpaul and winner of Belmont’s Grade I Manhattan Handicap June 11 before finishing fourth in the Man o’War at last asking; and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dean’s Kitten, trained by Mike Maker and third in the 2011 Arlington Handicap.
Possible European invaders for the Beverly D. aboard the flight of O’Brien trainees are Mrs. John Magnier’s Look At Me, a contestant in The Curragh’s Group I Irish One Thousand Guineas on May 22 and Derrick Smith’s Gemstone, sixth in the Group I Irish Oaks July 17.
Michael Deegan’s Pachattack, European-based when sixth in last summer’s Beverly D. after dwelling at the start, has been Arlington-based this summer and won the Grade III Arlington Matron over Polytrack in her last start May 28 in preparation for the 2011 Beverly D.
Other North American-based possible starters in the Beverly D. are Richard Duchossois’ defending Beverly D. champion Éclair de Lune, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally; Augustin Stable’s Grade III Modesty Handicap heroine Fantasia, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard; Neville Callaghan, Clodagh McStay, Michael Magnier and Annabel Wyatt’s Dubawi Heights, heroine of Hollywood’s Grade I Gamely Stakes May 30; Robert Scarborough’s Cheetah, winner of Delaware Park’s Grade III Robert Dick Memorial on July 9; Lael Stables’ Check the Label, winner of Belmont’s Grade I Garden City Handicap last fall; Spendthrift Farm’s Malibu Pier, winner of Hollywood’s Grade III Beverly Hills Handicap June 26; Team Block’s Never Retreat, winner of Woodbine’s Grade II Dance Smartly July 10; Butterfly Stable’s Romin Robin, runner-up in the Modesty; Martin Schwartz’s Stacelita, third against male rivals in Monmouth’s Grade I United Nations Stakes; and Stone Farm, John Adger, Oak Crest Farm and Mike Stidham’s Upperline, winner of Woodbine’s $103,000 Trillium Stakes June 25.
Possible Secretariat invaders aboard the flight of Aidan O’Brien-trained runners are Mrs. John Magnier’s Roderic O’Connor, winner of the Group I Irish Two Thousand Guineas May 21; as well as Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Treasure Beach, hero of the Group I Irish Derby June 26.
North American sophomores being considered to challenge All In Stable’s Grade II American Derby winner Willcox Inn in his bid for a sweep of Arlington’s Mid-America Triple are Stuart Janney III’s Air Support, Glen Hill Farm’s Banned and Gary and Mary West’s Casino Host, first, second and third respectively in the Grade II Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs; Team Valor’s Crimson China, winner of Monmouth’s $70,000 Lamplighter Stakes; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Derby Kitten, third in the American Derby; Raut LLC’s L’Aiglon, a winner of his last start July 28 at Arlington; James Karp’s Newsdad, fourth in the Virginia Derby; Team Block’s Suntracer, runner-up in both the American Derby and the Arlington Classic; and Richard Ravin’s Top Surprize, four-for-four over the Arlington grass this season.
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.