Chilean Sensation Robert Bruce Gives Brown Back-To-Back Arlington Million Wins
Rebounding from a trouble-filled sixth in the Grade 1 Manhattan in June, Chilean-bred and Chilean-owned Robert Bruce (CHI) edged clear of stablemate Almanaar (GB) to win the 36th running of the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million by a half-length. It was the second straight Million win for trainer Chad Brown, who saddled the top two finishers in the Million one race after having the top three in his fourth straight Grade I Beverly D.
About half the field of older horses was stacked across the track with a furlong to run but Robert Bruce swooped past them all to capture the 1¼-mile race over “firm” turf in 2:02.29.
“He’s got an unbelievable kick, but so did the losing horse,” said Brown, Arlington International’s all-time leading Grade I-winning trainer. “They both ran tremendous.”
Robert Bruce earned an automatic berth into the Grade I $4,000,000 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. Brown indicated that he could start once more before then, most likely in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Sept. 29.
Under Irad Ortiz Jr., the 4-year-old Robert Bruce bumped with favored Oscar Performance at the start before settling off the pace, led by Century Dream (IRE) through fractions of 23.66, 48.28, and 1:12.96. As the field bunched up approaching the quarter-pole, Robert Bruce had to go six-wide into the stretch, according to the official Equibase chart, and finding himself second-last.
“Today was a smaller field, a little more speed,” said Ortiz, who won his first Million on his 26th birthday. “Thank God I didn’t have any traffic. On the backside I didn’t want to fight with him, just wanted him to be happy, so when I turned to the backside and went to the two-path I didn’t panic.”
Owner Carlos Lavin of Convento Viejo LLC praised Ortiz’s chilliness even as the other contenders cut the corner ahead of him.
“When he entered the straight and he was in last place, I said, ‘Oh, maybe he’s too far back,’” Lavin said. “But this horse has a change of speed that is incredible. He always starts the same; he makes us suffer.”
Robert Bruce is the first winner with Chilean connections in the storied history of Arlington International’s signature event. By Fast Company (IRE) out of Lady Pelusa (ARG) (Orpen), Robert Bruce took home $582,000 to increase his career earnings to $942,457 and better his record to eight wins in nine lifetime starts, with the lone defeat coming in the Grade I Manhattan Stakes last out. Robert Bruce started his career six-for-six in Chile before being transferred to Brown.
Shadwell Stable’s runner-up Almanaar, rank early once again, hit the lead at the sixteenth-pole before being collared by Robert Bruce.
“He gave me everything he had,” said Almanaar’s jockey Joel Rosario. “I thought for a second we were going to be there but the outside horse (Robert Bruce) came with a strong finish.”
Pacesetter Century Dream was comfortable on the lead but drifted out in the stretch and was disqualified from third to fourth for interference at the sixteenth-pole with Catcho En Die (ARG), trained by Naipaul Chatterpaul and owned in partnership with Sotirios Sakatis, who was officially placed third.
“Simon [Cirsford, trainer] was always very confident of riding a horse positively and he’s a real honest, game horse, and I thought there was a chance that everyone was going to be looking at each other and that no one really wanted the lead,” said William Buick, who rode Century Dream. “We were kind of an underdog in the race so I figured we’d try our best and make something of it.”
Robert Bruce paid $7.20, $3.80, and $3.20, Almanaar returned $4.80 and $3.80, and Catcho En Die was worth $9.80.
Beyond Century Dream, Money Multiplier was fifth, followed by Deauville (IRE), Twenty Four Seven, Circus Couture (IRE), and Oscar Performance, who was pulled up before the wire and vanned off as a precaution. Spring Quality and Divisidero were scratched.