Arlington Park Road to the Million (7/11/12)
Contact: Graham Ross
EUROPEAN TRAINERS O’BRIEN, GOSDEN EYING ARLINGTON MILLION AGAIN; GOSDEN ALSO PONDERING BEVERLY D., AMERICAN ST. LEGER POSSIBILITIES
Two of international racing’s most successful and respected horsemen – Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien and Great Britain’s John Gosden – have the upcoming 30th anniversary edition of the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 18 clearly on their respective radars, according to the International Racing Bureau’s Alastair Donald.
O’Brien, who won last year’s Arlington Million with Mrs. Fitriani Hay, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Cape Blanco, and last year’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes on the same afternoon with Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Treasure Beach, is considering bringing Treasure Beach back to Chicago for the 2012 Million.
Gosden, who saddled HRH Princess Haya of Jordan’s Debussy to win the Arlington Million two years ago, has that same owner’s British-bred Beachfire and the Irish-bred Questioning penciled in as possibilities for the upcoming Million XXX.
“It’s a little early for Mr. O’Brien to declare his hand,” Donald said, “but he appears to be thinking about pursuing the same strategy with Treasure Beach that he did with Cape Blanco last summer. That would involve running Treasure Beach in (Belmont’s Grade I) Man o’ War on July 14, taking the horse back to Ireland and then shipping him back to Arlington for the Million five weeks later.
“As for Mr. Gosden, he is definitely the ‘man of the moment’ in Europe right now,” Donald said. “His horses have been absolutely on fire. He might have several available for the races that make up the International Festival. He has a filly named Joviality under consideration for the Beverly D. and a colt named Colombian as a possibility for the American St. Leger.”
Joviality, winner of the Group II Windsor Forest Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting June 20, and Colombian, fifth in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes on the same day, are both owned by Princess Haya.
Gosden’s Arlington Million candidate Beachfire won the listed Wolferton Handicap during Royal Ascot in 2011, while Questioning, his other possible starter in the Million, captured Newmarket’s Group III Earl of Sefton Stakes last April.
Another European-based horse familiar to fans of the International Festival of Racing who is under consideration for Arlington Million XXX at this time is Mark Hawtin’s Wigmore Hall, who finished fourth in last summer’s Million and was runner-up in the Secretariat Stakes two years ago. Following last year’s Million, the Michael Bell trainee went to Canada and won the Grade I Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine last September.
Ireland’s all-time leading trainer Dermot Weld, a frequent participant in one or more of the races that make up Arlington’s International Festival, has Khalid Abdullah’s British-bred Famous Name under consideration for the upcoming Million. The 7-year-old won the Group III Friarstown Stud International Stakes at The Curragh July 1 and was runner-up in the Group I Tattersalls Gold Cup before that May 27 at that same Irish oval.
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s Afsare, trained by Luca Cumani, won the listed Ambant Gala Stakes July 6 and is now under consideration for the Arlington Million. The British-bred 5-year-old gelding was runner up in Italy’s Group I Premio Presidente della Repubblica at Campanelle May 13.
Godolphin’s City Style, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, is also under consideration for the Million. The 6-year-old gelding was third in the Group I Dubai Duty Free at Meydan on Dubai World Cup Day March 31, sixth in the Group I Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot June 20 and most recently was eased in Sandown’s Group I Coral Eclipse July 7 after making the pace.
In addition to Joviality, another European-based prospect for the Grade I Beverly D. on Aug. 18 is the Irish-bred mare I’m A Dreamer, owned by St. Albans Bloodstock LLP. Trained by David Simcock, she finished third in the Group I Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh at last asking July 1 and fourth in Sandown’s Group III Brigadier Gerard Stakes May 31.
Joining the Arlington Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat Stakes as a fourth jewel during Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing Aug. 18 is the inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger at a distance of a mile and 11/16ths.
European-based possibilities at this time for that marathon, in addition to Gosden’s Colombian, are the Marco Botti-trained duo of K.K. Al Nabood et al.’s Irish-bred Joshua Tree, fourth in Milan’s Group I Gran Premio de Milano June 10, and the Irish-bred Jakkalberry, owned by Jakkalberry et al., and fifth in the Group II Hardwicke Stakes June 23 during Royal Ascot.
Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Irish-bred Distant Memories, trained by Tom Taaffe and fourth in Goodwood’s listed Tanqueray Foundation Stakes last September, is also being considered for the American St. Leger, as is the British-bred sophomore Ed de Gas, owned by Mr. R. A. Pegum and Dr. C. G. Lawler and trained by Rae Guest, who was fourth in the Group III Queen’s Vase during the Royal Ascot meeting on June 22.
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 90-day meet in 2012 from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, Sept. 30. 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, Tavern on North featuring Trackside Villa Park, 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 and Sam’s Triple Crown featuring Trackside Orland Hills. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.