Road to the 2014 Million – Vol. 2: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
In this edition: Arlington Million XXXII: Million Noms Dominate Prince of Wales’s; Beverly D.: 2013 Runner-up Gifted Girl Possible to Return; Secretariat: Toast of New York Could Cheers Chicago; American St. Leger: Grandeur Might Test His Grit in 2014
ARLINGTON MILLION XXXII: MILLION NOMS DOMINATE PRINCE OF WALES’S The three Grade I Arlington Million nominees in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Wednesday afternoon at Royal Ascot finished first, second and fourth to dominate the star-studded field. Sir Andrew Lloyed Webber’s The Fugue showed a marked return to form with an impressive 1¾-length victory over fellow Million nominee Magician in course record time. The win was especially gratifying as it was a reversal of the finish in last year’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf, in which Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. Tom Magnier’s Magician ran down the favored The Fugue in the closing strides.
Third behind the top two was race favorite and dominant 2013 Group I Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Treve and Shadwell’s Million nominee Mukhadram, who was making his first start since a solid second in the Group I Dubai World Cup. The remainder of the phenomenal field included the likes of Grade I Beverly D. winner Dank (fifth), as well as the highly regarded Group I winner Parish Hall.
South African trainer Mike De Kock, who trained The Apache to cross the wire first in last year’s Million, has reported that Group I winner Vercingetorix is on the fence for the Million. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s lightly raced bay son of 2001 Million champ Silvano is coming off a strenuous trip to Hong Kong, where he finished a good third in the Group I Queen Elizabeth II Cup – one race after finishing a driving second in the Group I Dubai Duty Free. He has since been recovering at De Kock’s northern hemisphere base in Newmarket, England, and his connections are hoping he can rejuvenate in time to make the American pilgrimage.
Pearl Bloodstock’s 7-year-old warrior Side Glance, a solid third in last year’s Million after a troubled trip, ran a dull ninth in the Group I Queen Anne Stakes for trainer Andrew Balding over a testing mile, but remains possible for a return trip to the United States. The tough gelding has made a habit of competing against the best in the world over the last few seasons and this year has run credibly in both the Dubai World Cup (fourth) and Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup (fifth) – both 10-furlong events. A bona fide globetrotter, the son of Passing Glance took the Group I Mackinnon Stakes in Australia at the same distance last fall.
BEVERLY D.: 2013 RUNNER-UP GIFTED GIRL POSSIBLE TO RETURN
Alan Spence’s 2013 Grade I Beverly D. runner-up Gifted Girl is possible for an attempt to do one better in 2014. Last year, the Paul Cole-trained daughter of Azamour ran a credible second behind runaway winner Dank, finishing clear of the photo-finish trio of Ausus, Marketing Mix and La Tia. This season has had its highs and lows for the leggy bay mare, as she has turned in both a good and poor effort in two starts. Her better effort – in the Group III Dahlia Stakes on May 4 – resulted in a third, finishing directly behind Intergral who took Wednesday afternoon’s Group II Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot – the same stakes used by Dank en route to her blockbuster performance in 2013.
James Wigan’s Dank also competed on Wednesday’s card, but this time against the best middle distance turf horses in the world in the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes. Finishing fifth while running an uncharacteristically flat race, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained daughter of Dansili might have been slightly beyond her distance limitations over Ascot’s testing 10 furlongs, which culminates with an uphill finish.
SECRETARIAT: TOAST OF NEW YORK COULD CHEERS CHICAGO
Michael Buckley’s runaway Group II UAE Derby winner Toast of New York is under serious consideration for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes when he makes his planned Stateside trip this summer. Trained by Jamie Osbourne, the son of Thewayyouare is also under consideration for the Grade I Belmont Derby in July, but could contest both events. The Kentucky-bred bay colt was originally aimed toward the Group I English Derby, with his connections reportedly reversing course with worries of him handling the tricky 12-furlong Epsom Downs course.
A European who did wind up competing in the English classic while also under serious consideration for the Secretariat is Abdulla al Monsoori’s Our Channel, a son of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner English Channel trained by William Haggas. In serious contention until the final two furlongs, the chestnut colt faltered in the English Derby to be unplaced. A return to shorter distances and firmer footing could be greatly advantageous for the Kentucky-bred. According to the International Racing Bureau, the colt could possibly prep in the Grade III American Derby.
Locally, Glen Hill Farm’s Secretariat hopeful Global View worked an impressive :49.60 on the Arlington International Racecourse grass on Monday morning. Fresh off a second in the Penn Mile behind Bobby’s Kitten, the $500,000 Keeneland purchase won the Grade II American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs in early May. The son of champion sire Galileo is reportedly being aimed toward either the American Derby or the Grade I Belmont Derby before a possible attempt at the Secretariat.
AMERICAN ST. LEGER: GRANDEUR MIGHT TEST HIS GRIT IN 2014
Last year’s Grade I Arlington Million morning line favorite Grandeur might return to the Chicagoland oval this year, but in a different race. Trained by Jeremy Noseda for Yvonne Jacques, the gray son of Verglas is coming off two consecutive trips to America to contest Grade I races at Belmont, including a traffic-riddled fourth last out in the Grade I Manhattan behind 2013 Million winner Real Solution. While also considered possible for another attempt in the Million, he is also under serious consideration for the Listed American St. Leger.
Despite often racing at or around the 10-furlong distance of the Million, Grandeur has the flexibility and stamina to be a force at marathon distances like the 1 11/16-miles American St. Leger. In 2012, he won the 12-furlong Grade II Hollywood Gold Cup – one of six career Stateside races for the firm ground-loving gelding – and was a notable fourth in the 12-furlong Group II Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket in 2013, finishing behind talented stayers Universal, Ahzeemah and Group II Dubai Gold Cup winner Cavalryman.
Another European under consideration for the American St. Leger is the Irish-bred Mouth Athos from the Marco Botti barn that has claimed the first two runnings of the event with Jakkalberry and Dandino. The 7-year-old gelded son of Montjeu is in career form, winning the Listed Aston Park Stakes over the same distance of the American St. Leger at Newbury last out. Last year, Mount Athos was an excellent third in arguably the world’s most prestigious marathon, the Group I Melbourne Cup at two miles, finishing ahead of Dandino in the process.