Arlington Million

International Festival Barn Notes: Thursday, August 15, 2013 – 2nd Edition

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/16/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Two Euros Put in Grass Works for Festival; Gifted Girl Camp Confident; “Little Difference” between Botti’s Dandino and Jakkalberry

Pearl Bloodstock, an ownership formed by Sheikh Fahad al Thani from the royal family of Qatar, got a boost in confidence when their Grade I Arlington Million hope Side Glance took his first stroll over the Arlington International Racecourse turf this morning. 

Working an effortless four furlongs in :51 flat under Leanne Masterton, the Andrew Balding-trained son of Passing Glance galloped out five furlongs in 1:04 in a work Arlington clocker Bobby Belpedio deemed “very impressive.”  Also out on the turf course at that time was James Wigan’s Dank, who continues to bewitch onlookers in the flesh.  The Sir Michael Stoute trainee worked three furlongs in :38.40 under Marie Doe.

Earlier in the morning, Mark Hawtin’s Wigmore Hall caught the eye of Belpedio while putting in a three-furlong workout on the main (Polytrack) course.  Timed in :37.60, the $400,000 American St. Leger hopeful displayed a “super impressive” finish, according to the clocker.  Wigmore Hall is the third choice at 7-2 on the morning line for his race.

Also earning commendation for his morning work, His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visiyani “looked very good,” according to Belpedio, going :38.60 for three panels.  The Alain de Royer-Dupré trainee is currently an outsider in the Grade I Secretariat with a 12-1 morning line.  Off the work tab but on the track were Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Dandino and Essafinaat Limited’s The Apache, who did light work for their respective connections.

Three Europeans are ready to challenge heralded American Marketing Mix, the filly many consider the best female turf performers in the country, in Saturday’s Grade I Beverly D. Stakes.  The two most respected are Flaxman Holding’s morning line second choice (3-1) Duntle, a multiple Group I-placed gorgeously muscular chestnut 4-year-old, and James Wigan’s Group II-winning third choice (7-2) Dank.

Despite how well regarded the aforementioned are, the confidence in the European Beverly D. contingent is actually resonating more ardently from that of the less esteemed third filly, Alan Spence’s Gifted Girl.

Trained by the venerable Paul Cole – a British champion trainer and Group/Grade I winner in seven countries – Gifted Girl hopes to become the conditioner’s first Grade I winner in United States since the 1992 Washington, D.C. International.  That same year was the last time Cole had a runner in the Beverly D. – eventual runner-up Ruby Tiger.  His son, Oliver, has been in charge of the filly since her arrival last Saturday.

“She is doing great,” the younger Cole reported of the Azamour filly.  Last out, the leggy bay filly won the Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract Racecourse in England in preparation of her run here.  Previous to that she was a good second, beaten only three-quarters of a length, behind Thistle Bird (who would go on to finish second in early August’s Group I Nassau Stakes) in the Group III Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom Downs. To commence her season, she dismantled a field of 10 handicap fillies at Ascot Racecourse by five lengths 20 days prior to her run at Epsom. 

“She shouldn’t have lost at Epsom, but she didn’t take the ground well and she won her last race easily,” explained Cole.  “She’s a good filly – a very good filly.  The form is there, she just has to do it now.”

A morning line longshot at 12-1, Gifted Girl’s penchant for pacesetting and pressing will have to deal with the speedy Americans La Tia and Starformer.  “I think she’ll be a big price.  I love her chances, here,” Cole continued.  According to the younger Cole, the plan has gone well to “work an easy four (furlongs) – nice, easy and routine just to clear her wind” on both Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  “She’ll have an easy day on Friday, and that’ll be it.” 

After taking the inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger in 2012 with Jakkalberry, Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock has brought Dandino to attempt to do the same in 2013.  Much like last year, Dandino is expected to be the favorite and comes off a loss in the Group II Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting. 

“I think they both are similar because they ship very well, the travel very well in their races and they place themselves easily and can be midfield or come from the back – it doesn’t really matter,” Marco Botti’s wife and assistant Lucie Botti stated.  “Both are genuine horses. Obviously Dandino has been with us only since January, so we are still learning about him, but I think there’s very little difference, except that Dandino is very kind and sweet and Jakkalberry isn’t.  Dandino is a proper gentleman, while Jakkalberry is feisty.  I don’t know who is better, at this stage.”

Dandino comes off a troubled trip in the Hardwicke, where he was hindered by a horse who fell and then ran loosely with the field.  “He should have probably won the race at Ascot.  (Jockey) Frankie (Dettori) said it was such a shame we had a loose horse in front of us when we needed to kick.  (Dettori) was very impressed with him and felt he had a very fresh horse underneath of him.  He came out of the race nicely.  He just needs to get lucky here.  It seems like a good race for him and he has traveled very well.”

The future plans for Dandino include a similar campaign to Jakkalberry’s in 2012.  “He is going to go into quarantine in September at Newmarket and then go down to Australia to quarantine and then run in the (Group I) Caulfield Cup before the (Group I) Melbourne Cup.  It’ll be basically the same (schedule as Jackkalberry had last year).”

If those plans hold true, the son of Dansili may meet his stablemate in those two races.  “We are hoping to go to the Melbourne Cup with (Jakkalberry) again, and then go to Dubai again.  He unfortunately got injured in a race when a horse kicked him in the stalls, so we gave him the spring off.  There are lots of options for him.”  Such an event could be compelling for Arlington fans if Dandino proves victorious in the St. Leger – especially with the Melbourne Cup being the most renowned stayers race in the world.   

Botti has an entrant in the main event, the Arlington Million, with the lightly raced Guest of Honour – a colt exiting a strong third in the Group II Summer Mile at Ascot Racecourse.  “He’s a late maturing horse.  After he won his listed race this year, we gave him a break with a late campaign in mind,” Botti said of the Giuliano Manfredini-owned son of Cape Cross.  “It’s a step up, but he’s run his races well and we think he should stay (the distance).”

In the Summer Mile, he finished behind the highly regarded Aljamaaheer and fellow Arlington Million entrant Mull of Killough.  “He was a little bit unlucky at the finish – he could never find a gap to go through – but the jockey (Martin Harley) said he was always traveling like a winner.  We were very happy with his performance.  He wasn’t 100% fit for that race.”

Harley will fly in to ride the horse.  “He has been an apprentice in Ireland and then moved to flat racing.  He’s a very good jockey and this will be his first race in America,” explained Botti.

The assistant conditioner is fully aware of the competition and how tough the task may be, but remains confident in her charge.  “It’s his first big journey.  We were a little bit disappointed it came up tough, but I believe he fits.  He’s very much still a young horse – that’s why we’ve tried to keep him fresh and also expect a big campaign next year.  It’s a big step, but I think he’s ready.”