International Festival Barn Notes: Thursday, August 16, 2012 – AM Edition
In Today's Notes: Secretariat Part of Clement's Career Plan for Summer Front; Aruna Gives Motion Chance to Check Beverly D. Off Bucket List; Follow Million Day via Twitter
SECRETARIAT PART OF CLEMENT'S CAREER PLAN FOR SUMMER FRONT
The winner of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Saturday will have a strong claim as America's best 3-year-old turf male, but trainer Christophe Clement is more concerned with building Summer Front's resume for a lifetime achievement award.
Summer Front is undefeated in five starts, including four stakes, on turf, but the War Front colt has never raced beyond a mile—a challenge he will face in the 1 ¼-mile Secretariat. A bigger challenge, however, might come in the form of morning line favorite Mark Bacon & Dana Wells' Silver Max, who has won six consecutive races—five of them stakes—on turf.
"We're not worried about him; we're worried about our horse," said Clement, who trains Summer Front for Thomas Moore and Judy Livingston's Waterford Stable. "We're very happy that he's training well. He's a nice horse, obviously, and we want him to have a nice career. It's not about any, one, race."
Whereas Silver Max's trainer, Dale Romans, has talked about using the Secretariat as a launching pad to greater riches and a possible run at the Breeders' Cup World Championships and an Eclipse Award, Clement thinks Summer Front fits best among his own generation.
"This is a great field and a great race," Clement said of the Secretariat. "I would think we'd look at the Jamaica and Hollywood Derby after this. It makes sense to stay against 3-year-olds if you can."
Clement and Waterford Stable have had success at Arlington before, winning the 2007 Arlington Sprint with Grade I winner In Summation. Clement, meanwhile, is looking to complete a trainer treble of sorts by adding the Secretariat to a resume that already includes the Arlington Million (Gio Ponti in 2009) and the Beverly D. a record three times (England's Legend in 2001, Royal Highness in 2007, and Mauralakana in 2008).
Clement is going for a fourth Beverly D. with Cheyenne Stables' Mystical Star, who closed out her 3-year-old season with unplaced finishes in both the Sands Point Stakes and Virginia Oaks but returned as a 4-year-old to win two of three starts, including the New York Stakes over fellow Beverly D. entrant Aruna.
"She was very nice last year, but then her form went down," Clement said. "She was not quite as sound, so we gave her time and came back with her, and she came back better than ever."
Ramon Dominguez will ride Summer Front with Jose Lezcano pegged for Mystical Star. Both horses arrive Thursday afternoon.
ARUNA GIVES MOTION CHANCE TO CHECK BEVERLY D. OFF BUCKET LIST
H. Graham Motion has 15 Grade I's throughout his career, including in such prestigious events as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Turf, but one race still on the trainer's bucket list is the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park.
That has not been for a lack of trying, as Motion has saddled four starters in the marquee race for older females on the turf, and he will take shot number five on Saturday with Grade I winner Aruna.
"The Beverly D. is a race that's on everybody's bucket list," Motion said. "It's a race I like to point to if I have the horse for it; it's a Breeders' Cup-caliber race."
After winning last year's Grade I Juddmonte Spinster Stakes on Polytrack at Keeneland, Aruna finished fifth, beaten just a length, in the Grade I Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly And Mare Turf. As a five-year-old, the Flaxman Holdings' homebred Mr. Greeley mare has won one of three starts, notching the Grade II Sheepshead Bay before failing to collar fellow Beverly D. entrant Mystic Star in the Grade II New York Stakes.
"Both times she ran in New York she struggled with the heat a bit, so I'm glad to see it's cooling off [near Chicago]," Motion said. "She's pretty uncomplicated these days. We used to have to worry about settling her and getting her covered up, but she's matured this year.
"I think she got shuffled back more than [jockey] Ramon [Dominguez] would have liked last time [in the New York Stakes], but he knows her well, and I'll leave the strategizing to him."
In addition to seeking his first Beverly D. win, Motion is also taking a shot at becoming the first trainer to win the American St. Leger with Team Valor International's Lake Drop who ships from Italy after winning a Group III there going 1 ½ miles. The inaugural American St. Leger is 1 11/16 miles.
"The idea when we brought him over here was to point him to this race," Motion said. "He's a horse who looks like he wants a lot of distance. He doesn't show a lot in the morning and is one-paced, so he fits the bill. He's an attractive horse who can just keep running."
Motion has had limited success at Arlington, winning five of 34 starts, including the 2007 Grade III Modesty Handicap with Bridge Game and the 2008 Grade III Pucker Up with Indescribable, but the International Festival of Racing remains a clear target for the Fair Hill Training Center-based conditioner.
It's one of the few very special weekends on the calendar," Motion said. "We love to point for it. In addition to the big money, there's a great turf course there so you know the horse is taken care of."
Motion's day will begin with the fifth race (a division of the $65,000-added Hatoof Stakes) when he sends out Prince Faisal's Group III winner Nayarra for her second North American start following a seventh-place finish, beaten 5 ½ lengths at 12.40-to-1, in the American Oaks.
FOLLOW MILLION DAY VIA TWITTER
No matter what type of information you're looking for from Arlington Park on Million Day, Twitter will have you covered, as a host of the racing industry's most active "tweeters" will be on hand for the International Festival of Racing.
The track's Twitter feeds are @Arlington_Park for general information and @ArlingtonRacing for paddock and post parade updates as well as handicapping insights. Paddock host @JessicaRPacheco is also on Twitter as is track announcer @JohnGDooley, racing reporter @Alyssa_Ali, and senior communications manager @Dave_Zenner.
Participants in the Million Day races also use the social media service, including trainers @GrahamMotion, @AOBBallydoyle, @DougONeil1, @JohnGosden1, @LucaCumani, and @ClementStable; jockeys @JulienLeparoux, @HayleyTurner123, and @JPSpencer1980; and @CraigB1818 whose family's Glen Hill Farm owns Beverly D. Stakes morning line favorite Marketing Mix.
Others observing the action on Saturday include @DRFHersh (Marcus Hersh) and @DRFMcGee of Daily Racing Form, @EJXD2 (Ed DeRosa) of @Brisnet & @TwinSpires, @ZipseAtTheTrack (Brian Zipse) of Horse Racing Nation, @DubaiRaceNight (Pat Cummings), @BetOnByrne (Jill Byrne) and @ABRLive (Penelope Miller) of America's Best Racing.
Of course, information goes beyond Twitter. Visit http://www.ArlingtonPark.com/million for information on the day's races, tickets, etc.