Arlington Million

Dixie Winner Whistles; Arlington Million Now Possible

Churchill Downs Communications | 05/21/2008 #

In Today’s Notes: 

·        Dixie Winner Whistles; Arlington Million Now Possible

·        Gallorette’s Top Two Both Beverly D. Nominees

·        Arlington’s Emigh Wins Miss Preakness Stakes

            Following his dominant performance in Pimlico’s Grade II Dixie Stakes on Preakness Day last weekend, December Hill Farm’s Pays to Dream is now under consideration for this summer’s Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 9.

            “I was considering it (the Million) six weeks ago,” said trainer David Donk Wednesday while speaking over the phone from New York, “but then after the way he ran in (Aqueduct’s Grade III) Fort Marcy, I thought I must have been crazy.”

            Pays to Dream finished seventh in the Fort Marcy April 27, beaten more than five lengths while showing no late run.

            “Now, I would have to say that the Million is a possibility,” said Donk.  “His win Saturday has me thinking about it again.”

            Donk saddled Ryehill Farm’s Awad to win the Arlington Million in 1995, run second in that showcase race in 1996 and then fourth in 1997.

            Pays to Dream, a 4-year-old gelding by High Yield, trailed the field in the early running of last Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Dixie, made a bold run around the turn, and then drew off to tally by seven and a half-lengths.  With that running style, the mile and a quarter-distance of the Million would not appear to be a problem.

            “I’ll probably run him in the (Grade I) Manhattan Handicap (June 7 on Belmont Stakes Day), see how he does in that and then take another look at the Million,” concluded Donk.

            Pimlico’s Dixie is considered to be the second Arlington Million prep on this side of the Atlantic.  The first – Churchill’s Grade I Woodford Reserve on Kentucky Derby Day – was captured by Patricia Cunningham and Melissa Green’s Einstein.  That Brazilian-bred’s trainer Helen Pitts has already indicated that Arlington Million XXVI is the next major goal.

            Einstein breezed a half-mile in :51.60 May 18 at Churchill over muddy going.

          Ben McElroy’s Roshani, conditioned by defending Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, took command entering the lane and then withstood a late challenge by Earle Mack’s Lady Digby, trained by Graham Motion, to capture last weekend’s Grade III Gallorette Handicap by a half-length on Preakness Day at Pimlico.

            The Gallorette, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16-miles over the Old Hilltop lawn, is often an early precursor of the Grade I Beverly D., run at 1 3/16-miles over Arlington’s world-famous turf course as part of the one-day International Festival of Racing on Arlington Million Day.

            Roshani, a 5-year-old mare who was heroine of last summer’s Grade III Matchmaker at Monmouth; and Lady Digby, a 4-year-old filly who captured Laurel’s Dahlia Stakes last month; are both original nominations to this summer’s sister race to the Arlington Million.

            Finishing third in the Gallorette was the Irish-bred Valbenny, owned by LGL Racing and trained by Michael Matz.  That filly is also a 2008 Beverly D. nominee.

             Veteran Illinois-based reinsman Chris Emigh, Arlington’s leading rider in 2006, made a successful quick round-trip to Baltimore last weekend to win the Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

         Emigh’s Maryland win came aboard William Stiritz’s Palanka City for locally based trainer Terry Gestes.

            Palanka City, as the odds-on choice of the fans, pressed the early pace, collared the front-runner inside the furlong grounds and quickly drew off for a five and a half-length tally.

            “That was my first trip to Pimlico,” said Emigh while in the midst of a riding double Sunday at Arlington, “and it went pretty easy.  I didn’t do much.  I just sat on her and she pretty much did it all on her own.

            “I usually don’t have much luck when I go out of town,” said Emigh, “but that sure worked out well.  Hopefully, it’s on to New York (Grade I Acorn June 7) with her now.”

            Emigh, Stiritz and Gestes reunited their team to win Sunday’s fourth race at Arlington with J. Pa, and Emigh returned to the winner’s circle in the sixth astride Barbara Hunter’s Swamp Willow for trainer Tom Proctor.