Road to the Million Vol. 4
After winning last summer's Grade III Arlington Handicap, the well regarded Stream Cat, owned by Fab Oak Stable, Bobby Hurley and John Goldthorp was inexplicably rank in the early going of the 2008 Arlington Million and faded to sixth in the final furlong.
However, after breezing one mile in 1:44.60 on Sunday, Stream Cat appears headed for a defense of his championship in the Arlington Handicap on July 11.
"I think the plan is to run in the Handicap, see how he performs in that race and then make a decision about going on to the Million," said Marie Biancone, daughter of Stream Cat's new trainer Patrick Biancone. Last year, Stream Cat was trained by Rusty Arnold leading up to the Million.
"My father is the trainer of this horse," said his daughter this week when speaking at her Arlington barn during morning training hours. "He'll tell me what to do, but I would think (Stream Cat) will get one or maybe two more works before the Arlington Handicap. That last work (Sunday) was a good one for him and he's been doing very well since he got to Chicago."
Marie Biancone, 21, won the first race of her own fledgling trainer career earlier this summer at Arlington. Like her father, she is a native of France.
North of the American border last weekend, Ellie Boje Farm's Rahy's Attorney scored a front-running one-length win in Woodbine's Grade II King Edward Stakes. Although not an original nomination to the 2009 Million, following his King Edward win trainer Ian Black was asked if his Ontario-bred would be considered for the next Million nomination deadline July 29.
"Let me think about that," said Black, speaking over the phone from his Canadian headquarters. "I'll talk it over with the owners (headed by Joe MacLellan) and then we'll decide."
On the West Coast last weekend Grade I Beverly D. nominee Black Mamba, bred in New Zealand and owned by Doubledown Stables, closed resolutely in the late stages of Hollywood's Grade II Beverly Hills Handicap and remains under consideration for this summer's sister race to the Arlington Million.
The Beverly D. on Aug. 8 and Del Mar's Grade I John C. Mabee Handicap Aug. 16 are the possibilities for Black Mamba's next start, with an eventual goal of the Group I Melbourne Cup later in the year.
Arlington Million XXVII will go to the post late in the afternoon Aug. 8, preceded by the 20th anniversary edition of the Beverly D. and the 33rd running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes.
Together, the only three Grade I races contested in Illinois on an annual basis make up Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing, and this summer's Arlington Million gets added international prestige because the winner will receive an automatic invitation to the Group I Japan Cup when it is run in Tokyo later in the year.
In an update concerning the Secretariat Stakes, Virginia Tarra Trust's Giant Oak, hero of the 75th anniversary edition of the Arlington Classic and the only horse with a chance to sweep Arlington's Mid-America Triple for the first time in 12 years, breezed three-quarters in 1:15.40 in a public workout between races Sunday in preparation for the Grade II American Derby July 11 as the next leg of the Triple. The series restricted to 3-year-olds concludes with the Secretariat.
With regular jockey Eddie Razo in the irons, Giant Oak ticked seven-eighths in 1:26.40 over the turf course rated "good" and galloped out the mile in 1:38.40.
"I think it was a good work for him," said owner Virginia Tarra shortly after the move. "He always goes quick in his works but looks like he's doing it easy."
The last horse to sweep the Mid-America Triple was Honor Glide, owned by Robert Schaedle III, who accomplished the feat in 1997. Previously, when all three races of the series were contested on the main track, 1965 Preakness winner Tom Rolfe, owned by Powhatan, and 1966 Horse of the Year Buckpasser, owned by Ogden Phipps, also swept the Triple, which has been enhanced with a bonus this summer.
Should Giant Oak go on to win the American Derby and the Secretariat, Rudy and Virginia Tarra will earn an additional $500,000 on top of first place earnings in those two races.
Regular nominations to all three races on Million Preview Day July 11 close July 1. The American Derby is the final local prep for the Secretariat Stakes and the Arlington Handicap serves as the local preview of the Arlington Million, while the Grade III Modesty Handicap is designed as a tune-up for the Beverly D.