Arlington Million

Barn Notes: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 – 2nd edition

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/14/2013 #
  • The Apache in the Arlington Park paddock (Four Footed Fotos)

In Today’s Notes:The Apache Works Toward Million;Dank a Danger to the Favorites in the Beverly D.

Essafinaat Limited’s (Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum) The Apache, a Group I winner in both Europe and Africa, stretched his legs Wednesday morning for trainer Mike de Kock.  Breaking off at the seven-eighths pole on the grass course, the son of Mogok stayed toward the middle of the course and slowly picked up his tempo until breaking into a calculated rhythm around the course.

The dark bay horse, second in March’s Group I Dubai Duty Free two races back, finished up his work with a final quarter in 24.80 and was credited with a five-furlong move in 1:04.80.  “He was barely blowing after,” said exercise rider Philip Shea while still aboard The Apache in the paddock afterward.  “The turf course is absolutely perfect.”  Traveling assistant trainer Declan Cronin was equally as pleased and he watched intently. 

The South African-bred comes off a good fourth in the Group II Sky Bet York Stakes at York Racecourse on July 27.  He will be ridden by two-time French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon and is the fourth choice at 6-1 on the morning line.

A thrilling renewal of the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes awaits Arlington International Racecourse fans on Saturday with a rare Arlington appearance by one of the best trainers in the world, Sir Michael Stoute. 

Though he has won nearly every major turf race in the world (including five Breeders’ Cup races) and has claimed 10 British Champion Trainer titles, Stoute has never had a runner in the Beverly D.  That will all change on Saturday when he sends out the improving Group II winner Dank, who is currently third choice at 7-2 on the morning line. 

“She’s been very relaxed since she got here.  Today, over the track, she looked great,” reported Dank’s groom Elaine Westgate, who has been in charge of the filly since her arrival Sunday afternoon.  On Tuesday after clearing quarantine, the daughter of Dansili took a leisurely stroll over the track under stable exercise rider Marie Doe – her first look at the paddock and racecourse. 

“It was her first day out of quarantine, so she likes to look around a bit.  That’s her.  It’s a new place and she is a curious filly.  She likes to always see what’s around her,” explained Westgate.  The James Wigan-owned filly got her first feel for the grass course on Wednesday morning – jogging around the perimeter of the course with Doe and quickly exiting afterward. 

“She’s nice and calm right now.  You never want them going too fast or doing too much when they’re right out of quarantine,” Westgate explained.  “We are just going to make her comfortable and keep her happy leading up to the race.”

Dank exits an impressive win in the nine-furlong Group II Kilboy Estate Stakes at The Curragh in Ireland over good ground.  That day, she beat Aiden O’Brien’s highly regarded filly Say while giving that filly nine pounds.  The bay filly carried an impressive 135 pounds that day, but still managed to get the distance in an impressive 1:51.20 and won with noticeable ease. 

The Kilboy Estate was her third race of the year.  She started 2013 with a victory in the nine-furlong Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on May 5.  That day she beat Thistle Bird, who came back recently to run a huge second in the Group I Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on Aug. 3. 

Dank subsequently returned at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting to run in the Group II Duke of Cambridge Stakes, the same event that produced 2012 Beverly D. third-place finisher Joviality, and ran a huge third (beaten a half-length) behind favorite Duntle over a straight one-mile course.  She renews that rivalry in the Beverly D., as Flaxman Holdings has sent their grand chestnut filly to Arlington, as well.

“She was definitely a better horse at The Curragh than at Ascot, so I guess she is better now than the last time (that she faced Duntle).  But, you never know until the day (of the race) do you?” Westgate rhetorically asked. 

Though the question may be rhetorical, the answer is that the Stoute camp is quietly confident.  Such credence stems from the fact that their filly has been beaming since her arrival from England as well as her overall athletic constitution.  “She just thrives in her training.  That’s all you can say.  She keeps getting better and I think she’ll like it here.  She likes it good to firm here, too.  We’re looking forward to the race.”

Ryan Moore who has ridden the filly in six of her nine starts and three of her four wins will be in to ride the British-bred filly.  Stoute, who is unable to attend the race, will be sending his partner Coral Pritchard-Gordon to saddle.