Arlington Million

International Festival Barn Notes: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 – 1st Edition

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/14/2013 #
  • Hunter's Light takes to the Arlington Polytrack on Tuesday morning. (Four Footed Fotos)

In Today’s Notes: Euros Take to the Track for the First Time; Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light Takes on Third Continent of 2013

All fourteen European hopefuls for the International Festival of Racing got their first exercise at Arlington International Racecourse Tuesday morning.  The horses came in three intervals – 6:30 a.m., approximately 7:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

First on the track was Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s The Apache (preparing for the Arlington Million), who jogged an easy mile under Philip Shea for trainer Mike de Kock.  Next came the threesome of Flaxman Holdings’ Duntle (Beverly D. Stakes), Team Valor’s First Cornerstone (Secretariat Stakes) and His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visiyani.  Duntle was all business under Donal Manning for trainer Dave Wachman as she did a lap and quickly went back to the barn.  First Cornerstone did two spirited laps and looked to get some great air under Thomas Bradley in the process for trainer Andy Oliver.  The Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Visiyani was a picture of serenity under Jonathan Fleutot as he went about his training without a hitch and soaked in his environment.

Moments later, Mark Hawtin’s Michael Bell-trained Wigmore Hall (American St. Leger) led the Marco Botti-trained duo of Giuliano Manfredini’s Guest of Honour (Million) and Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Dandino (St. Leger) in a single file jog around the course.  The son of High Chapparal – winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf over the Arlington grass in 2002 – was full of life on the track under Gillian Doman.  Marco Botti, a Festival winner last year in the American St. Leger, gets in later this week, but his wife Lucie was aboard his lightly raced Guest of Honour.  Stephanie Thewils was on possible St. Leger favorite Dandino.  Also on the track was Pearl Bloodstock’s Side Glance, under Leanne Masterton.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., exercise rider Donal Manning got his second spin on the course when he took out Alan Spence’s Gifted Girl (Beverly D.), who looked very comfortable jogging among local trainees.  Paul Cole trains the daughter of Azamour.  At about the same time on the other side of the grounds, Invictus’ Mull of Killough (Million) put in a “gentle canter” on the Arlington training track under Abigail Harrison, according to a photo and tweet posted by trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam.

At 11:00 a.m. the final group of Europeans hit the course when Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor-trained Hunter’s Light (Million), James Wigan’s Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dank (Beverly D.) and the Jeremy Noseda-trained duo of Yvonne Jacques’ Grandeur (Million) and Charles Fox’s Yeager (Secretariat) cleared quarantine.

Grandeur and Yeager hit the course first, with Yeager putting in a spirited gallop over the Polytrack course under Joe Scully, while stretching out nicely.  Grandeur, under Wayne Tanner, was more reserved and relaxed – routinely galloping as if he has been stabled here his entire career. 

Hunter’s Light then hit the ground and stretched his legs over the surface.  A Group I winner on both turf and synthetic, he struck the ground with purpose under regular exercise rider Jeff Marshall.  Lastly, the impeccably fit Dank took her time soaking up the paddock and then the course itself.  A curious filly, she walked around for quite some time before deciding it was time to jog under Marie Doe.

Sheikh Mohammed’s globally powerful Godolphin Stable will be represented in Arlington’s premier race at the International Festival of Racing – the Grade I Arlington Million –  with dual Group I winner Hunter’s Light, a 5-year-old horse making his sixth start in his fourth country on his third continent of 2013.  The Darley-bred son of Dubawi got his first look at the track on Tuesday morning, 16 days after running a good third in the Group I Grosser Dallmayr-Preis on July 28. 

Godolphin representative Steve Armstrong looked on as the muscular son of Dubawi went through his first steps over the local course.  “He looked good, I think,” he reported.  “Tomorrow he’ll do a 10-furlong canter and we’ll see how he feels.  We’ll wait for (head trainer) Saeed (bin Suroor) to get here.”

Armstrong’s confidence is well founded based on what appeared to be an obvious preparatory race in Munich.  “The German race was basically sort of just a stepping stone.  This was always the plan, to come here,” he explained.  Last fall, the earner of $925,111 impressively took down the Group I Premio Roma GBI Racing at Capannelle on the grass at the 10-furlong distance of the Arlington Million.

Since then, Hunter’s Light has been aimed toward the best middle distance races in the world.  He ran three races in Dubai in the late winter and early spring, including a win in the Group I Maktoum Challenge Round 3 and a seventh in the Group I Dubai World Cup.  Before his placing in Germany, the globetrotting horse was a decent sixth in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup.  “He’s an pro - nothing bothers him.  He’s so relaxed and has traveled so much.”