Road To The 2010 Arlington Million: Vol. IV - Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The British are coming - again! Or at least that's the plan right now regarding Peter Harris's British-campaigned Stotsfold, who finished a very creditable third while gaining in the late stages of last season's Grade I Arlington Million.
"It is safe to assume that Arlington Park can count on the impending return of Stotsfold in this summer's Arlington Million," said Alastair Donald, director of the International Racing Bureau, when speaking over the phone from the IRB's Newmarket headquarters in England Wednesday morning. "(Trainer) Walter Swinburn has indicated that the horse is doing as well as he was last summer - if not better - and that the Million is his primary target once again.
"The plan for Stotsfold is to bypass Saturday's (Group I) Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in favor of an upcoming race at York in early July," Donald said, "and use that as his springboard to the Million. In his last start, Stotsfold won the (Group III) Brigadier Gerard Stakes (May 27) at Sandown."
Swinburn, son of top Irish jockey Wally Swinburn and himself a jockey of note earlier in his career, began his training career in November of 2004. While still active in the saddle, Swinburn finished fourth in the 1994 Arlington Million aboard Maktoum Al Maktoum's Petit Loup and won the 1996 Breeders' Cup Turf astride Lord Weinstock's Pilsudski.
According to Donald, another European-based campaigner now under consideration for Arlington Million XXVIII on Aug. 21 is the Irish-bred Stimulation, owned by Michael Kerr-Dineen and trained by Hugh Morrison.
"Stimulation was a very good horse as a 3-year-old," said Donald. "That was when he won the (Group II) Challenge Stakes at Newbury, and was a good third behind (Arlington Million veteran) Pressing in Istanbul (in the Group II International Topkapi Trophy in his start before that. He was compromised by injury for most of 2009, but now as a 5-year-old has still only made 14 lifetime starts. In his most recent start Stimulation finished a very good fourth in the Group I Prince of Wales's Stakes during the Royal Ascot meeting June 16."
Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, owner-trainer Tom McCarthy updated the status of his Arlington Million hopeful General Quarters Wednesday morning.
"(General Quarters) is doing just fine - couldn't be better," said McCarthy, speaking over the phone from Louisville, where his 4-year-old gray son of Sky Mesa won the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day May 1.
"Right now, my plan is to put him on the grass down here on July 6 and let him go five-eighths about 10 days before the (Grade III) Arlington Handicap (July 17)," said McCarthy. "Then I'll bring him up there to Arlington a few days before that race and blow him out on the Polytrack a day or so before the race."
The Arlington Handicap, like the Million run at 10 furlongs over Arlington's world famous turf course, is the designed final local prep for the Million.
Arlington Million XXVIII - centerpiece event of the 2010 Chicago Thoroughbred racing season - will go to the post late in the afternoon on the third Saturday in August, preceded by the 20th renewal of the Grade I Beverly D. for many of the world's best fillies and mares. Completing Arlington's International Festival of Racing on that day will be the 34th running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds of international turf caliber. Together, they are the only three Grade I race races offered in Illinois on an annual basis.
Among the significant races slated this weekend in advance of the International Festival of Racing are Great Britain's Group I Coral-Eclipse, Monmouth's Grade I United Nations Stakes, Hollywood's Grade II American Handicap and Churchill's Grade II Firecracker Handicap in advance of the Million; and Hollywood's Grade II Royal Heroine Mile and Churchill's Grade III Locust Grove Handicap in advance of the Beverly D.