Arlington Million

Barn Notes: Thursday, August 08, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/08/2013 #
  • Ausus, shown winning the Grade III Modesty, is ready for Beverly D. task. (Photo by Four Footed Fotos)

In Today’s Notes: Peitz Pleased but Prudent about Festival Pair; Stevens to Ride Draw Two in Secretariat; Temeraine Training Well Toward Million

Locally based conditioner Danny Peitz’s two big Shadwell Stable-owned guns, Najjaar and Ausus, are pleasing the trainer as they prepare for their respective races in the International Festival of Racing.  While Najjaar is aiming toward the American St. Leger, Ausus will take aim on the Grade I Beverly D. 

“(Ausus) is doing fine.  We are planning on running her and I hope to work her Saturday on the grass,” reported Peitz. 

While the trainer is content with how his filly is doing, he is definitely very grounded with regard to the others in the race.  “It looks like there are a few European fillies coming who seem like they’re pretty useful.  I definitely, as a trainer, worry about everyone,” he laughed.  “Marketing Mix will probably be the horse to beat and going from a Grade III to a Grade I is a big step.  When we ran in the (Grade I) Jenny Wiley, the mile wasn’t her best distance.  We definitely need to step it up a few lengths, for sure.” 

A winner of the course and distance prep – the Grade III Modesty Handicap on July 13 – Ausus holds a home field advantage in the Beverly D.  “We’re here at home and don’t have to ship, and have (2011 Arlington champion jockey) James Graham on her, so that’s a plus.  The race will be tough.  It’ll be a very deep field.”

Peitz will also have a live shot in the second running of the American St. Leger with Najjaar, who was recently fourth – beaten less than two lengths – in the course and distance prep for the Grade I Arlington Million, the Grade III Arlington Handicap.  “I think the Million will be a little deeper than what we need with Najjaar.  My whole thought about the St. Leger is that we only got beat a half-length by Dark Cove in the (12-furlong) Louisville (Handicap), and (Dark Cove) will probably be one of the favorites in the race.  We probably have a better shot of being competitive in that race.”

Peitz has been very pleased with the development of the colt who was on the Kentucky Derby trail in 2012.  “He’s been really consistent – mostly on the grass, though.  This year he has really shown up every race.  Last time the pace was so slow and when he was as close as he was, it definitely worked against him when it turned into a sprint at the end.

“He definitely seems like he’s happy and training well.  I like the way both (Najjaar and Ausus) are training.  They’ll probably work on the same day – either Saturday or Sunday – and Graham will ride both in their races.  Najjaar can work on anything, but I’d rather work Ausus on the grass,” Peitz continued. 

The trainer also considered entering a third horse into the Festival, the promising stakes-placed Bashaar, who was recently fourth – beaten 8 ¼ lengths – in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse on July 27.  “I thought about running Bashaar in the Secretariat, but I am leaning toward something like the (Grade II) Super Derby (at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 8),” Peitz explained.  “If I am going to try the grass with him again, it would probably be an in allowance race where I know he’d be competitive.  The problem is that those allowance races are usually a mile or a mile and a sixteenth.”

In the Jim Dandy, the son of Street Cry was closer than usual in sixth-place early and then passed tiring horses to finish fourth behind Grade I Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice.  “I was disappointed.  I know the race was fast and it was a tough race, but I thought he’d run a little bigger.  If he would have been beaten three or four lengths (instead of eight), I’d have been happier.  I just don’t feel like he ran as good as he is.   I don’t think he was comfortable being inside and I’m not sure if that affected his race, but it was definitely a learning experience.”

According to trainer Michelle Nihei and jockey agent Craig O’Bryan, Hall of Famer Gary Stevens has been confirmed to ride Draw Two in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 17.  Owned by Dennis Narlinger, the lightly raced son of Macho Uno is coming off a hapless and rough trip that resulted in a fourth-place finish in the Grade II Virginia Derby on July 13.  Gary Stevens, who will also ride GusMay-Fer’s Indy Point in the Grade I Arlington Million and Glen Hill Farm's Marketing Mix in the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes, has won the Secretariat once before – in 1994 with Rock Crockett’s Fordell Fierce-trained Vaudeville. 

Niall Racing’s Temeraine is on schedule after a solid six-furlong workout on Wednesday morning.  “He worked very good,” reported Nicky Carrello, assistant trainer to Tom Proctor.  “He’s doing great and I think he’s training very good.” 

Coming off a 30-1 second-place finish in the Grade III Arlington Handicap on July 13, the son of Arch will once again be a live longshot if he continues on to the Arlington Million.  “I’m pretty sure he will probably work again in about five days,” Carrello reported.

Prior to the Arlington Handicap, Temeraine ran a good fifth, beaten just over three lengths, in what has become a key allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 2.  The winner that day, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Big Blue Kitten, would subsequently claim the Grade I United Nations, while the runner-up, Robert E. Courtney, Jr.’s Rahystrada, would take down the Arlington Handicap.  Also in that stakes-worthy event were graded stakes winners Cease, Air Support, Turallure, Keep Up and Omayad.  “He just got in from Kentucky when he ran in the (Arlington Handicap), so he’s training just as well as he was then,” Carrello concluded.

While Proctor has had one other contestant in the Million – a ninth-place finish with Glen Hill Farm’s Split Run in 1994 - owner Tim Turney of Niall Racing will be making his Million and Festival debut.  “We’re very excited to be in a race like the Million and we’re little bit nervous,” he said.  “We are being realistic about it – it’s a stretch for us – but, he’s doing good, already (at Arlington) and doesn’t have to ship.”