Arlington Million

Barn Notes: Friday, August 16, 2013 – 2nd Edition

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/16/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Well Traveled Side Glance Ready for More; Fourth Time Hopefully a Charm for Wigmore Hall; Noseda Sanguine and Sensible

The last time Pearl Bloodstock’s Arlington Million entrant Side Glance took a long trip for a race, he rewarded his connections, including trainer Andy Balding, with two consecutive fourth-place finishes in Group I races at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai in March – including the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup.  Those two races proved that Side Glance, who in 2012 finished third to the great Frankel, could still compete with some of the world’s best. 

Leanne Masterton, who has been in charge of the son of Passing Glance since his arrival, has been around the 6-year-old gelding since he was a foal.  “He’s feeling pretty good,” she explained.  “He’s very easy to travel.  He doesn’t worry.” 

In his only other start in 2013, the nearly jet black millionaire finished a mid-pack seventh in arguably the toughest 10-furlong turf race on the planet this year – the Group I Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting June 19. “He ran at Ascot, which is such a super-stiff 10 furlongs.  An easy 10 furlongs like here will suit him much better.  Nine furlongs might be his best distance, but nine in Europe on a track like Ascot might be similar to 10 here,” Masterton explained.

Side Glance’s performance in the Middle East also gives Masterton confidence.  “He can also run on lots of going – he’s very versatile.  He ran very well on the Tapeta (Footings) in Dubai, which may be more similar to here,” Masterton said in reference to the flat two-turn racecourse. 

One of Side Glance’s biggest claims to fame and form, is that he ran third to the great Frankel in the 2012 Group I Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting – the race where Frankel ran the highest Timeform rating in history (147).  Side Glance had a tough race that day, but still finished third behind the great champion.  “In the paddock beforehand, we were asked what we would do as a game plan against a horse like Frankel.  We joked that we were going to grab onto his tail and just get a tow-along,” she chuckled. 

While Rahystrada’s feat of four Arlington Million runs is definitely worth celebrating this weekend, perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Wigmore Hall is also making his fourth start at the International Festival of Racing – in his third different race.  In 2010, a 3-year-old version of the High Chaparral gelding ran a huge race to finish second to Paddy O’Prado in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes.  In 2011 and 2012, the Michael Bell-trainee ran commendable closing races in the Million to finish fourth and seventh, respectively, losing by just over three lengths each time.  This year, he attempts the $400,000 American St. Leger (morning line of 7-2).

“I hope he gets (the win) this time.  I think we probably got Dandino to beat.  We’ve raced against him.  I don’t know too much about the Americans,” assistant trainer Gillian Dolman said.  “He definitely knows he’s back here (at Arlington).  He loves it here and at Woodbine.  He’s feeling really well.  He’s going around there bucking and squealing.”

The two-time Grade I winner has twice left Arlington to subsequently win consecutive runnings of the Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada.  That race is at 12 furlongs over an undulating course that can be testing for any horse.  On Saturday, when he enters the American St. Leger, he will have to run 1 11/16-miles (or 13½ furlongs) – 1½ furlongs farther than he ever has attempted.  Despite the novelty of such, Dolman is confident in her charge’s ability to get the conditions.

“He’s only been 2400 meters, but I think he can get the extra ground (of the St. Leger).  He won the Northern Dancer at 2400 meters and he doesn’t really have a preference on ground.  He wouldn’t want it rock-hard, but good to firm is perfect,” she explained.

On Saturday, Wigmore Hall will be ridden by Jamie Spencer – a champion jockey in both Ireland and England – and will be well supported at the windows (morning line odds are 7-2).  “I don’t know what the riding plans are, yet.  We’ll leave that to (Bell) and Jamie.  He does always seem to fall out of the stalls.  I would think Jamie would track him across and drop behind – that’s his usual style of running.   Hopefully he’ll finish fast late.  We are hoping there will be a bit of early pace.  He usually likes to come off a faster pace.”

No matter what happens, Dolman adores her horse and greatly appreciates what he has done for the Bell stable.  “I just wish in the beginning I would have made a Facebook page or something for him.  He’s taken us so many places and people seem to really like him.”

Trainer Jeremy Noseda arrived from England on Wednesday night to see his two International Festival of Racing charges one day after they both left quarantine and resumed training toward their respective races.  Yvonne Jacques’ Grandeur has been established as the morning line favorite at 7-2 for the Grade I Arlington Million, while Charles Fox’s lightly raced Yeager is at 12-1 for the Grade I Secretariat Stakes.

“I am delighted.  I think they’re in great nick and I couldn’t be happier.  They traveled well and as far as we can tell, everything is exactly as we’d like it to be at this point,” said the conditioner of Group I winners in three different countries.  “I think they’re both looking great. They look the same way they did before they left home and that’s all I want to see.”

Grandeur and Yeager have both done little more than jog and canter since arriving this week, but both have shown great energy.  Just prior to boarding the plane to come from England to the United States, the two charges put in final serious works.  “They both worked Friday on the July racecourse in Newmarket and they both worked seven furlongs on the grass.  They both pleased me with their good works.”

Grandeur is definitely garnering more attention from the media, especially with a proven record of being able to ship to the United States and win.  Last year, the son of Verglas spent November and December in California, where he competed in three graded stakes and won two of them, including an easy win in the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup. 

This year, he has raced twice and last out ran a blinder to finish second to Mukhadram in the Group II York Stakes at York Racecourse in a field filled with Group I-performing horses.  “I think he’s suited by American style racing.  He loves quick ground and he fits with these horses.  I prefer to be 3-1 favorite instead of 33-1.  I think when you look at the race, he stacks up as the obvious horse in the race.

“Little Mike is probably the most proven horse, but this year it looks like he might not be the same horse he was at the same time last year.  You don’t win an Arlington Million and a Breeders’ Cup Turf without being very good, but his races this year are just not quite at the same level,” Noseda said in reference to the defending champion and one of his chief opponents. 

Noseda is also very high on Yeager, a studdish colt who has consistently impressed onlookers in the mornings and again while schooling Thursday in the paddock.  “I think he is improving.  I’m pretty sure Lasix will help him.  I know he has to make a big jump here, but I think he’s capable of running a lifetime best – hopefully that’s good enough.  He’s a good moving horse.  I think he’s a horse who is just coming to his best at this moment.”

Last out, the very well bred son of Medaglia d’Oro out of a Fusaichi Pegasus mare easily conquered his elders at Ascot in a one-mile handicap by 2¼ lengths.  The race was only his fourth start and his second win.  He joins His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visiyani and Team Valor International’s First Cornerstone as a trio of unproven but promising Europeans facing the Americans. 

“The other two European horses have better form than me, but I’m expecting this horse to step up his game and I think he’ll be competitive with them,” Noseda explained.  “With the Americans, it’s hard to say.  But, they haven’t exactly run big numbers on the sheets, I don’t think.  They don’t look like a vintage group.  I might be wrong (about them), but I think this horse is ready to step up.”