Barn Notes: Wednesday, May 14, 2014
In Today’s Notes: Magician, Akeed Mofeed and 2013 Champ Real Solution Lead Million Noms; Breeders’ Cup Champs Dank and Stephanie’s Kitten Highlight Beverly D. Noms
MAGICIAN, AKEED MOFEED AND 2013 CHAMP REAL SOLUTION HEAD MILLION NOMS
An honor roll of international turf racing comprises the list of early nominees for the centerpiece of Arlington International Racecourse’s International Festival of Racing – Arlington Million XXXII – with Grade/Group I victors from all corners of the world. Defending champ Real Solution, who was adjudged the winner in last year’s event after The Apache was disqualified, leads four early nominations from the barn of Chad Brown, who also nominated multiple Grade I winner Big Blue Kitten. Both charges are owned by defending Eclipse champion owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey. The Ramseys also nominated 2013 Secretariat Stakes winner Admiral Kitten from the Mike Maker barn.
Leading all trainers with five nominees is Ireland’s Aiden O’Brien, whose powerful Ballydoyle-based contingent has performed very well at the festival over the years. Leading those is Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s Magician, upset winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf. The same ownership trio – plus a partner in the ever-growing Qatar-based Al Shaqab Racing – have also nominated 2013 English Derby victor Ruler of the World, who (despite his aforementioned victory) may be best at the Million’s 10 furlongs.
Victorious in the 2012 Million and a disappointing sixth in the 2013 running, Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike has been nominated a third time. Now under the tutelage of Carlo Vaccarezza in lieu of Dale Romans, the speedy veteran will soon be making his 2014 debut after a solid set of works at Gulfstream Park.
Perhaps the most intriguing nominee is Pan Sutong’s globetrotting Akeed Mofeed, whose connections specifically mentioned the Million as their next main target. A lights-out winner of December’s Hong Kong Cup – also at 10 furlongs on the grass – the Richard Gibson-trained son of Dubawi recently ran a credible fifth in the richest race in the world – the $10 million Dubai World Cup – as one of the favorites. World Cup winner, Godolphin’s African Story, is also nominated to the Million for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Last year, Godolphin sent Hunter’s Light to an unlucky 10th-place finish in the Million. That charge is once again nominated, as well.
Other notable nominees include Phipps Stable’s Imagining, winner of this past Saturday’s Man o’ War at Belmont Park over both Real Solution and Yvonne Jacques’ 2013 morning line Million favorite Grandeur, who has also been re-nominated. Adding consistent class is internationally renowned mare The Fugue, who has been nominated by trainer John Gosden for owner Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Lastly, Juddmonte Farm’s Seek Again - Wise Dan’s impressive near-conqueror in the Turf Classic on Derby Day – is nominated for trainer Bill Mott.
BREEDERS’ CUP CHAMPS DANK AND STEPHANIE’S KITTEN HIGHLIGHT BEVERLY D. NOMS
James Wigan’s Dank heads the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. nominees set for competition on August 16. A dominant conqueror of the 2013 edition, the daughter of Dansili has since proven victorious in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (earning an Eclipse award accordingly) and most recently was an unlucky third in the Dubai Duty Free behind the world’s top-ranked horse Just A Way. The English filly finished ahead of The Fugue in Dubai, who is also cross-nominated into the Beverly D. as well as the Million.
The second- and third-place fillies from the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Juddmonte Farm’s Romantica – one of five nominees from the Bill Mott barn – and Martin Schwartz’s Alterite from the barn of Chad Brown have also tossed their bonnets into the bowl. Chad Brown’s only other nominee, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Stephanie’s Kitten, is under consideration for owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey. The mare has made one start for Brown – a dull eighth in the Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland in April – but has been working well at Belmont since. The Jenny Wiley, in its salty 2014 renewal, was won by Hillsbrook Farms’ gritty Hard Not to Like, from the barn of Michael Matz.
A provocative nomination from across the pond is Ben Keswick’s Sky Lantern, a muscular gray daughter of Red Clubs trained by Richard Hannon who has won four Group I races in her last two seasons. A fast-closing filly who is rated on par with Dank, Sky Lantern has proven – much like Dank – that she loves her going firm and might appreciate a return try to America after a rough trip in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in which she was the beaten favorite. Jerry Hollendorfer and Aidan O’Brien easily led all trainers in nominations with ten and eight nominations, respectively.
The Mid-America Triple, which culminates with the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Million Day, and third running of the American St. Leger also closed for early nominations. Highlighting the multitude of possibles for the Mid-America Triple are Eclipse Thoroughbreds’ Kentucky Derby third-place Danza, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s beaten 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf favorite Bobby’s Kitten and Michael Buckley’s runaway UAE Derby victor Toast of New York. The St. Leger nominees are headed by Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s defending champion Dandino, Godolphin’s 2013 Dubai Gold Cup winner (and 2014 runner-up in the same fixture) Cavalryman and 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden, owned by Pearl Bloodstock of the Qatari royal family.