East Meets West in Japan Cup, Arlington Million and Hanshin Cup
The winner of Arlington Million XXVII on Aug 8 will receive an automatic invitation to this year's Japan Cup in Tokyo Nov 29, it was announced by the Japan Racing Association (JRA) earlier this week, and that announcement could not have come at a more opportune time.
Conveniently, Saturday's Grade III Hanshin Cup at Arlington Park is celebrating its 15th anniversary edition as an exchange race with the Japan Racing Association and Mr. Yutaka Yokoyama, senior manager of the JRA's New York office, and Mr. Shigeru Suzuki, general manager of the JRA's New York office, will be on hand at Arlington to present the Hanshin Cup to the connections of the winner of Saturday's $100,000 race at one mile.
The Arlington Cup, the Chicago oval's half of the exchange race program, was contested at Tokyo Racecourse earlier this year.
Following this week's latest announcement, the Grade I Arlington Million becomes the only North American race whose winner will be honored with an automatic invitation to the Group I Japan Cup. The Million joins such other Group I fixtures as Great Britain's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, France's Prix de'l Arc de Triomphe, Germany's Grosser Preis von Baden and Ireland's Irish Champion Stakes whose winners will be so honored.
Inaugurated in 1981, the same year as the Japan Cup, the Arlington Million was the first Thoroughbred race to offer a $1 million purse.
Golden Pheasant, hero of the 1990 Arlington Million, traveled overseas to take top honors in the 1991 Japan Cup and remains the only horse to win both races. The JRA planted a cherry tree in Arlington Park's paddock area to commemorate that feat.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS, WILD EXPECTATIONS JOINED IN ZEN SUNDAY
High Expectations and Wild Expectations imply a wide range of emotions in meditation - as well as short and long morning line odds respectively as Thoroughbreds in Arlington's $50,000 co-feature Sunday - but the two Illinois-breds will share adjoining stalls in the starting gate for the appropriately-named Zen Stakes.
High Expectations, owned by the S. D. Brilie Ltd. Partnership, has won two previous renewals of the Zen Stakes, as well as two previous White Oak Handicaps on Prairie State Festival Day at Arlington. He is also conditioned by the meet's current leading trainer Christine Janks. The 7-year-old gray gelding is the 3-1 second choice in the Zen morning line and will be ridden by Chris Emigh, Arlington's leading rider in 2006.
Wild Expectations, owned by Pat Orr and Linda Bellamy, has only won twice in his career and is 20-1 in Sunday's morning line. However, the Kenny Spraggins trainee is also a gray gelding and one of those two wins came by 2 1/2-lengths in his last start May 9 over the local oval. Inez Karlsson, who won five races Thursday at Arlington, is slated for the saddle.
Homewrecker Racing Stable's Wildeydsouthernboy, who also won his last start May 9 at Arlington by 2 1/4-lengths, is the 9-5 morning line choice in the Zen, is conditioned by the current runner-up in the local trainer standings Hugh Robertson, and will be ridden by defending jockey champion Rene Douglas.
Completing the field for the seven-furlong Zen is John and Lois Auer's Dakota Rebel, Brandon Meier; Loretta Clark's P D Q Kiddo, James Graham; Captain Jack Racing Stable's Mr. Mischief, Eddie Razo; Team Block's Fort Prado, Eddie Perez; Asiel Stable's Caruso, Carlos Silva; and Kona Stable's Officer Frank, Florent Geroux.
NICKS FAVORED IN SUNDAY'S YOUR LADYSHIP STAKES
Carson Springs Farm, Arbaway Farm and Ken Meeker's Nicks, who captured Hawthorne's $90,000 Governor's Lady Handicap at last asking April 25, has been installed as the 9-5 morning line choice in Sunday's $50,000 Your Ladyship Stakes at Arlington.
The 5-year-old mare is a Christine Janks trainee who also won Hawthorne's $89,000 Powerless Handicap last year and will be ridden by James Graham Sunday.
Team Block's Secret Kin, third in this year's six-furlong Governor's Lady after making a strong late run, is the 3-1 second choice in the seven-furlong Your Ladyship. Eddie Perez is named in the irons aboard Secret Kin, who won the 2008 Governor's Lady.
Richard Rudolph and Michael Vranich's Magnetic Miss, runner-up in the recent Governor's Lady, is the 9-2 third choice in the Your Ladyship morning line.
Completing the Your Ladyship field is John Carman's Ripe Tomato, Brandon Meier up; Nancy Vanier and D N A Racing Stable et al's Lawn, Chris Emigh in the irons; and Moabo Stable's Runningatem, Tanner Riggs astride.