Arlington Park Stakes Advance: Arlington Million (G1)
Contact: Michael Adolphson
WINNERS OF GRADE/GROUP I RACES ON FIVE CONTINENTS MAKE ARLINGTON MILLION XXXI A GLOBAL GALA
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (August 14, 2013) – Priscilla Vaccarezza’s three-time North American Grade I winner and defending Arlington Million champion Little Mike will defend his crown against a field that includes the winners of Group I races on four other continents in Saturday’s marquee turf spectacular. The Dale Romans-trained son of Spanish Steps has not finished better than fourth in three Grade/Group I events in 2013, including a disappointing trip to Dubai, but has been training forwardly for his confident connections.
However, it is a star on the rise, Yvonne Jacques’ multiple Grade II-winning Grandeur, who is listed as the 7-2 morning line favorite. The son of Verglaswon two Grade II stakes while wintering in the United States last year. In his last race, the Jeremy Noseda-trained charge ran impeccably to finish second in a salty renewal of the Group II Sky Bet York Stakes, three-quarters of a length behind Mukhadram – one of the best middle distance horses in Europe – and 4 3/4 lengths ahead of fellow Million entrant The Apache.
Hunter’s Light, from the globally powerful Godolphin Stable, invades in an attempt to win his third Grade/Group I on as many continents. In the last year, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained 10-furlong specialist won the Group I Premio Roma in Italy on the grass and the Group I Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 in the UAE on the all-weather – both 10-furlong races. He enters off a third-place finish in another 10-furlong Group I, the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich. Three-time British champion jockey Ryan Moore has the call.
Indy Point, a winner of three Argentinian Group I races, made his North American debut in the July 24 Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar last out, winning impressively by a widening 1 1/4 lengths. A son of Indygo Shiner, GusMay-Fer’s Indy Point is trained by the highly able hands of Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, a conditioner with an enviable record of 8-1-3-2 in the Arlington Million. In 2012, Indy Point won two-thirds of the Argentinian Triple Crown, including a victory in the Group I Gran Premio Jockey Club over a left-handed grassy 10 furlongs, in which he sped home in 1:58.25. Hall of Famer and two-time Million winner Gary Stevens has the ride.
South African Group I victor The Apache looks to return to the form that earned him a victory in the 2011 Group I Champions Cup on his native continent and an excellent runner-up finish two races back in the Group I Dubai Duty Free. The Mike de Kock trainee will be ridden by two-time French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon and comes off what appeared to be a fitness-building fourth-place finish in the York Stakes.
Two horses who have yet to claim Grade/Group I glory, but figure to garner significant respect are Windy Hill Farm’s lightning-fast multi-surface performer Nates Mineshaft and Robert E. Courtney, Jr.’s three-time Grade III Arlington Handicap winner Rahystrada. The latter (Rosie Napravnik aboard) finished in a dead-heat for third in last year’s Million for trainer Byron “Scooter” Hughes and will be the first horse to compete in the race four times. Nates Mineshaft (E. T. Baird), once considered one of the best dirt horses in America, has been reinvented on the grass and looks to be rounding back into top shape for trainer Anne P. Smith.
The most intriguing longshot may be Giuliano Manfredini’s lightly raced Guest of Honour, who earned his way to the Million with a fine third in the Group II Summer Mile Stakes – the same race in which fellow Million entrant Mull of Killough finished second. A son of Cape Cross – the same sire of world champions Sea the Stars and Ouija Board – Guest of Honour is trained by Marco Botti and will be ridden by Martin Haley. Invictus’ Mull of Killough, a 7-year-old gelding, was a good fifth – beating Hunter’s Light – in the Singapore Airlines International Cup prior to the Summer Mile. A return to that form makes the Jane Chapple-Hyam trainee very competitive here.
A series of stellar steeds round out what will be a distinguished renewal of the Million. Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Real Solution, a Grade I-placed son of 2004 Secretariat winner Kitten’s Joy, is looking to give trainer Chad Brown and jockey Alan Garcia their first Million wins. Donegal Racing’s Finnegans Wake, a son of 2005 Million victor Powerscourt, returns to Arlington for the first time since running arguably his best race when runner-up in last year’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes. Dale Romans trains and Robby Albarado, winner of the 2007 Million, rides. Pearl Bloodstock’s 6-year-old gelding campaigner Side Glance, a seven-time Group/Grade I performer who finished third to Frankel in 2012 at Royal Ascot and fourth – defeating Hunter’s Light – in this year’s Dubai World Cup, hopes to return to winning form for trainer Andrew Balding and jockey Jamie Spencer. Lastly, Niall Racing’s Temeraine, an improving 4-year-old gelding trained by Tom Proctor, hopes to give Eddie Castro an upset win in his first Million ride.
The Arlington Million provides the winner an automatic starting position in the Breeders’ Cup Turf as part of the “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, and is one of three Grade I stakes races on the card that comprises Arlington’s International Festival of Racing. The others are the 24th running of the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for filly and mare turf stars and the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-old grass runners of international caliber. Also a part of the Festival is the second edition of the $400,000 American St. Leger for marathon turf runners at a mile and eleven-sixteenths
Arlington International Racecourse – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run an 89-day meet in 2013 from Friday, May 3 through Sunday, Sept. 29. Arlington International Racecourse, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates 11 off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities in Arlington Heights, Aurora, Chicago, East Moline, Waukegan, Villa Park, Rockford, South Elgin, McHenry, Orland Hills and Hodgkins. Information on Arlington International Racecourse and Trackside OTB can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arlingtonpark and www.facebook.com/tracksideotb, and on Twitter at @Arlington_Park for the latest happenings, @arlingtonracing for the latest racing news and @tracksideotb for all things pertaining to off-track wagering.