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Arlington Park

Arlington International Barn Notes (8/1/14)

Contact: Michael Adolphson

In today's notes:


Godolphin’s Trading Leather is considering the trans-Atlantic trip for the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million on Aug. 16, according to the International Racing Bureau. The Group I winner of last year’s classic Irish Derby is exiting a lackluster performance in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 26 at Ascot, but has four Group I placings prior to that effort to back up his formidable class. The King George turned out to be a salty scuffle between many Group I winners, including Mukhadram, Magician and Taghrooda.

Trained by breeder Jim Bolger – who previously owned the charge before selling him to Godolphin at the end of the 2013 season – the son of European champion juvenile Teofilo has excelled at or around the 1 1/4-miles distance of the Million, including a valiant second in the Group I Coral Eclipse behind Mukhadram on July 5 and a solid runner-up performance to Declaration of War – who would go on to finish third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic – in last year’s Group I Juddmonte International Stakes at York as a sophomore.

A lover of fast ground, the bay 4-year-old has rarely performed well with too much give in the turf and – similar to fellow Million probable Magician – did not relish the surface at Ascot last time. It would not be the first time that a European defied the form of a King George and flourished on American soil after a battle.


The 38th running of the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes is shaping up as a fine affair, with players from multiple regions of the United States, as well as Europe. One who may be overlooked is Ninety North Racing Stable’s Sheldon – a talented son of late stallion Purim, who himself won the Grade III Arlington Classic in 2005.

“We are planning on coming if we get into the race,” confirmed trainer Jimmy Toner. “He’s a nice colt. The question has always been waiting for the distance with him. He needs more ground and I knew he would be a nice colt once he stretched out.”

Last out, the game chestnut was an unlucky fifth – beaten a dissipating 4 1/2 lengths – in the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational behind Mr. Speaker at Belmont Park. “He could have won that day. He ran a good race after he got checked twice in the stretch. I think he could have been right there, otherwise.

“I had told Junior (Alvarado, jockey) to stay out of trouble, but if he would have followed Mr. Speaker up the inside, he would have been OK,” Toner continued. “I’m not going to say he would have won, but he would have been right there.”

Though Sheldon has only a maiden win to his credit – and it took him seven tries to do so – he has always been highly regarded. In his second start, after closing stoutly to finish a length third in his maiden debut, he raced in the Grade III Pilgrim Stakes. Unfortunately, he ran into Bobby’s Kitten that day and finished sixth.

“I think you can do that with a 2-year-old,” Toner said. “I knew he was good and wanted to go farther. We were taking a shot. Just like in the Belmont Derby – we took a shot and now we’re regrouping. He will love the distance of the Secretariat and is a ‘next year’ kind of horse. When he gets to those 1 3/8-miles and 1 1/2-miles events, he’ll be tough.”

It will not be the first time Toner and Ninety North came to Chicagoland with a talented turf sophomore. In 2007, they took down the Grade III Hawthorne Derby with Bold Hawk. “Bold Hawk was one of those ones who was exceptional. Actually, he was a mean horse,” Toner laughed. “I went to visit him the other day and he was still tough. You never thought he was going to make it, but he did.

“Sheldon is ‘Sheldon’ – he’s a horse who has a lot of personality; he’s in a world of his own and is kind of funny. You know him when you come into the barn – it’s like ‘that’s Sheldon’. He takes care of himself and is a neat horse.”


Coolmore’s Magician, after being labeled possible in yesterday’s notes, is now probable according to the International Racing Bureau. Representatives at Ballydoyle – trainer Aidan O’Brien’s home base – have confirmed such. Coming off a poor performance in the Group I King George VI & Elizabeth Stakes last out at Ascot, the son of Galileo will be looking to regain the form that saw him annex the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf in fine style in 2013 at Santa Anita.

In other Ballydoyle news, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s Festive Cheer is now under consideration for the Listed $400,000 American St. Leger. The son of stamina-infusing champion sire Montjeu is exiting a prep in the Group III Meld Stakes at The Curragh over 1 1/4 miles – well short of his best distance – and has shown excellent class in the past. Last year, the bay colt was third – beaten less than four lengths – to Trading Leather in the Group I Irish Derby at that same course. Earlier this year, the 4-year-old was thought of highly enough to contest the Group I Dubai Sheema Classic, finishing off the board.


Superfecta bettors everywhere can enjoy a sigh of relief as it was confirmed Friday morning by trainer Andrew Balding – by way of the International Racing Bureau – that Pearl Bloodstock’s Side Glance will be returning to the United States for a fourth time on Aug. 16 for the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million.

The 7-year-old gelding finished fourth in the Grade I Woodbine Mile in 2011, third in last year’s Million and third in the Grade I United Nations last out at Monmouth Park on July 6. The nearly black son of Passing Glance went off at odds of 7-1, 24-1 and 5-1, respectively.

Carrying his form well over the last few seasons on multiple continents, the talented and consistent English-bred and -trained charge has earned more than $2.4 million, while winning eight of 36 starts. His best performances have come on good-to-firm ground over 1 1/4-miles trips, including a victory in the Group I MacKinnon Stakes at Flemington Racecourse in Australia last November.

- END -

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