|Arlington Park Barn Notes 8/15/03
In today's notes:
Godolphin Racing Inc.'s Sulamani, the Grade I Arlington Million morning line favorite who was suffering from a slight stone bruise Thursday, was back on the Arlington Park track just before dawn Friday morning to canter once around the oval.
Sulamani's Friday exercise was encouraging news one day after a scheduled Thursday morning move by the European star was cancelled following the discovery of the stone bruise, a setback that was quickly addressed.
Sulamani, winner of the Group I Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) last spring and runner-up in the Group I Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last October while still a sophomore, showed his best form this year when he captured the Grade I Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad al Sheba March 29. In his most recent trip to the post July 26, the 4-year-old son of Hernando finished second in the Group I King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot in Great Britain while conceding 12 pounds to the winner.
The King George was the third leg of the 2003 World Series of Racing Championship, which announced a partnership with Rolls Royce Motor Cars Ltd. shortly before the Ascot event. Saturday's Arlington Million will be the fourth leg of this year's World Series.
Godolphin is seeking the 100th group or grade I win of its 10-year history with Sulamani in Saturday's Arlington Million.
Juddmonte Farms Inc., with the morning line choice in Saturday's Grade I Beverly D., sister race to the Arlington Million, would earn its 108th group or grade I career victory in the filly and mare test.
The Beverly D. morning line favorite is Juddmonte's Heat Haze, beaten a neck in Saratoga's Grade I Diana Handicap July 26 but winner of four straight in both the United States and France before that.
Heat Haze is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who last won the Beverly D. in 1995 with Blue Vista Inc.'s Possibly Perfect.
Juddmonte Farms reached its 100th win in group or grade I competition on Kentucky Derby Day when Sightseek captured the Grade I Humana Distaff.
Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum's Storming Home is undefeated in his two U.S. races, including a victory last time out in the Grade I Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park. Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale thinks his horse can do better than what he showed in that three-quarter-length win at 1-5 odds.
"His Whittingham performance was not as good as his effort in the Jim Murray Handicap," Drysdale said. "I was not pleased with how he came up to the Whittingham, and it was also a very roughly run race. He is coming up to the Million better than he did the Whittingham."
Drysdale describes Storming Home as a playful horse who hasn't been bothered by the humidity that has settled into the Chicago area of late. He's also not the type of horse you want to mess with too much during a race.
"Where the bear wants to sit, we let him sit," said Drysdale, who also indicated that Storming Home will again wear four leg bandages in the Million.
"He always runs and trains in fours," said Drysdale. Past performance charts indicated that Storming Home did not wear front bandages in the May 10 Jim Murray Handicap, but Drysdale says he definitely had them on for that race, in which Storming Home turned in a powerful 112-Beyer Speed Figure effort to defeat the top stakes horse Denon by two lengths.
"You can't believe everything you read," said Drysdale with a smile.
One thing that is causing a bit of apprehension on Drysdale's part is the yielding ground at Arlington.
"It appears that he would handle it, but it's always a concern here because some horses that normally handle soft ground don't handle it here," Drysdale said. "They get stuck."
Does Drysdale think Storming Home is at the top of the male turf division right now?
"It's the early days still," he said with guarded optimism. "There are a lot of major races now and in the fall that will decide all that."
Should all go well for Storming Home in the Million and thereafter, Drysdale indicated his main goal for the son of Machiavellian is the Grade I John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita Oct. 25.
Mrs. Carde Ostermann-Richter's Paolini, beaten less than a length in last year's Grade I Arlington Million despite being denied racing room in the stretch run, will get a chance to make amends for that unlucky trip in 21st running of the Chicago centerpiece this Saturday.
"That's racing," said German trainer Andreas Wohler with a shrug when reminded of that outing one year ago. "Hopefully, we'll have a better trip this time.
"Another thing he needs is good ground," said Wohler. "It should be okay if it stays the way it is right now. Hopefully, it stays dry from now until the race."
Two years ago, Wohler saddled Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof's Silvano to capture the 2001 Million, and Wohler was asked to compare Silvano to Paolini.
"That would not be easy," Wohler said. "They are completely different types. Silvano was all heart and an easy horse to train. Paolini has lots of ability, but he needs everything to go right. Thankfully, one of your local trainers named Moises Yanez has provided a lead pony for him when we've been taking him to the track. That helps keep him settled."
Jockey Andreas Suborics, who will ride Paolini once again in this year's Arlington Million, agreed with Wohler's assessment of the necessary turf conditions.
"As long as it's not soft the way we get soft ground in Europe, we'll be all right," said Suborics. "There's a little 'cut' to the ground here right now, and he'll like that. He likes the Arlington course quite well. He doesn't particularly care for Ascot. He doesn't handle the uphill part of it that well."
Paolini finished eighth in the Group I Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in his last start July 5. Before that the 6-year-old finished third, beaten only two lengths for all of it, in the Group I Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong April 27.
If there were betting on who will have the early lead in Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million, the Richard Mandella-trained The Tin Man, owned by Ralph E. & Aury Todd, would be a prohibitive 1-5 favorite. However, the Hall of Fame conditioner says that his charge is just as comfortable coming from just off the lead should such a scenario develop.
"He's run well both ways," said Mandella. "There's usually not much speed in long distance grass races, so he has essentially inherited the lead in many of his races. But he has turned into a very kind horse that's easy to manage so Mike Smith will have the option of doing whatever he thinks is best, depending on what the others do early."
Mandella is encouraged by how his gelding is coming up to the race. "He is doing good," said Mandella. "He felt good today during his gallop. Yesterday (Thursday) he was too full of himself, but today he mellowed out. By tomorrow, he'll be as good as he can be. I think he'll like the soft turf he gets here."
Irish champion jockey Patrick Smullen has been named to ride Gary A. Tanaka's Touch of Land in the Grade I Arlington Million Saturday. Touch of Land, the lone 3-year-old in the Million, breezed three-eighths in :40 4/5 over a yielding course Friday with the "dogs" up.
H R H Prince A A Faisal's Olden Times and SNC's Jean-Louis Bouchard's Tripat, two other European-based Million starters, accomplished that same distance in the same time.
Defending Arlington trainer champion Wayne Catalano saddled four winners Thursday, becoming the first conditioner to accomplish that feat at Arlington since the Chicago course reopened in 2000.
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