Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Friday, May 11, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/11/2012 #

In Today's Notes: Arlington International Adds American St. Leger Stakes In 2012; Arlington Heights Library to Host Arlington Park Seminar

It is poetic justice. During the same summer that Chicago's premier Thoroughbred oval has reverted to its moniker as Arlington International, the racecourse that serves as the home headquarters for international racing in the United States has added the inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger to its stakes schedule.

To be run over Arlington's world-famous turf course at the locally unfamiliar distance of 1 11/16-miles (a mile and five and a half furlongs), the race will become the fourth major event to be contested during the one-day International Festival of Racing Aug. 18, joining the 30th anniversary edition of the Grade I Arlington Million, the 22nd renewal of the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes as the Million's sister race and the 36th running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Leading horsemen of the international racing community have already expressed their enthusiasm for Arlington's newest turf marathon because it offers one more venue for their horses that might not fit the conditions of Arlington's other three international classics.

Also, the economics of international equine charters allow the travel expenses of each individual horse to be reduced by magnitude of the flight manifest. In other words: the more horses shipping, the cheaper the fare for each horse.

Knowing that, a European horseman who might have an outstanding turf filly or mare for the Beverly D. and also a superior grass marathoner that needs more ground than the 10 furlongs of the Million might be more likely to send both of them to Arlington for the International Festival on the same flight because economically it would be more feasible.

How did Arlington's newest race get its name?

It is a derivative of Great Britain's Group I St. Leger Stakes, run at Doncaster as the final leg of England's Triple Crown, which begins with the Group I Two Thousand Guineas run at Newmarket last Saturday (and won by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier's Camelot), will continue with the Group I Investic (Epsom) Derby at Epsom Downs Racecourse June 2 and conclude with the Group I St. Leger at Doncaster in mid-September.

The St. Leger is the oldest of England's Triple Crown races and racing has been conducted at Doncaster since 1778. Historians tell us that the race is named for a popular local horseman of that era named Lt. Col. Anthony St. Leger.

The inaugural American St. Leger might also produce one other incentive for European horsemen.

"This year, we scheduled our traditional (Grade III) Stars and Stripes Stakes as part of Arlington's Million Preview Day on July 14," said Arlington's racing secretary Chris Polzin when explaining how the American St. Leger was added to his schedule.

"As always, that race will be run at a mile and a half – a marathon by American standards but a far more common distance in Europe," Polzin said. "In that sense, for European horsemen, the Stars and Stripes could become something of a prep race for horses that might be attracted by the $400,000 purse of the longer American St. Leger on Arlington Million Day."

Chicagoans interested in learning more about horseracing in general and Arlington Park in particular will be interested in an upcoming informal seminar to be held at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library on May 15 from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

A panel of jockeys, horse trainers and sportswriters will offer insights into the 2012 horse racing season, both locally at Arlington Park and nationally as well.

A trackside perspective will be offered by speakers such as Jim O'Donnell, currently affiliated with the Chicago Tribune and formerly with the Sun-Times and Daily Herald; Arlington's defending trainer champion Larry Rivelli; longtime Arlington jockey agent Tom Morgan; and Brandon Meier, a second generation jockey based on the Chicago circuit.

Attendees will be urged to join in the conversation and ask questions.