Arlington Million

International Festival of Racing Barn Notes: Sunday, August 11, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/11/2013 #
  • My Option (photo by Michael Adolphson)

In Today’s Notes: Nates Mineshaft and Ioya Bigtime Impressive in Final Festival Drills; My Option Puts in Easy Drill for Hatoof; Ten Euros Arrive at Arlington, Four More Expected Sunday; Night School to Focus on Million Tuesday and Thursday

Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft put in his final work for next Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million Sunday morning by going a solid three furlongs in :36.60 along the inner rail of the firm turf.  With jockey E. T. Baird aboard, the son of Mineshaft went his final eighth in :12 flat and galloped out in :49.80.

Trainer Anne P. Smith was on horseback watching the work from the outer rail.  “E. T. and I spoke beforehand and really wanted to get a sharp three-eighths, with a two-minute lick and make sure he galloped out well.  I really wanted to make sure E. T. felt confident in what he had underneath of him going into such a big race,” the conditioner said.  “He came back in pretty good shape.”

In her first year as a head trainer, Smith will be trying to get the confirmed frontrunner to stretch a quarter mile farther than he has ever competed on the grass.  “He’s holding up to what I have asked him to so far.  I have been trying to condition him be ready for the company and the distance.  I feel that he is prepared to the (optimal) level he can be,” she reported. 

“I’m definitely respecting the company who is coming,” mentioned Smith.  “I really feel like (trainer Richard) Mandella’s horse and Little Mike have to be respected.”  Richard Mandella is planning to run GusMay-Fer’s Argentinian champion Indy Point in the Million, while Priscilla Vaccarezza’s defending Million champion Little Mike is also on course for Saturday’s event.

Between now and next weekend, Smith will do her best to prepare Nates Mineshaft for the toughest test of his career and the biggest event of hers.  “Whatever we feel like he needs to feel fresh from now until the race, we will do.  He will do some light work and also get a few massages.”

The other impressive work of Sunday morning was Team Block’s Ioya Bigtime, who worked five furlongs on the turf in advance of his return date in the American St. Leger.  With new jockey Francisco Torres up, the son of Dynaformer worked in a solid 1:00 flat, with a gallop out in 1:12.60 for six furlongs. 

Runner-up last year in the inaugural St. Leger, the notoriously wayward worker was very relaxed under Torres, who will ride the 6-year-old for the first time on Saturday.  The work also caught the attention of Arlington clocker Bobby Belpedio.  “Ioya Bigtime was really impressive today.  He looked really good over the turf and galloped out nice,” he reported. 

Two other St. Leger pre-entrants, Team Block’s Suntracer and Gary and Mary West’s Code of Conduct, put in their final serious moves, as well.  Also trained by Chris Block, Suntracer went five furlongs in 1:01 flat with Eddie Castro, who has the call in the St. Leger.  The Wayne Catalano-trained Code of Conduct worked along with stablemate sophomore filly Dance Team (who is being aimed toward the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes on the Million Day undercard) and both were timed in 1:02 flat for the same distance. 

Tim Keeley’s probable $75,000 Hatoof Stakes favorite My Option drilled four furlongs on the turf Sunday morning in advance of her first start since taking the Grade III Arlington Oaks on the main course.  A multiple stakes winner, she went in :48.60 under regular rider Eddie Perez.  Arlington clocker Bobby Belpedio dubbed the work “easy and impressive” after watching the Chris Block-trained daughter of Belong to Me conclude her duties.

Two fillies who may take on My Option in the Arlington Million Day undercard event also worked over the lawn on Sunday.  The Wayne Catalano-trained duo of stakes winners Gold Edge (regular jockey Channing Hill up) and Bold Kitten (regular jockey Florent Geroux up) worked in 1:02.40 in tandem.  James F. Miller’s Grade III winner Gold Edge and Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s restricted stakes winner Bold Kitten will both be looking to rebound after poor showings in the Arlington Oaks. 

Two separate flights of European shippers for the International Festival of Racing arrived safely on the Arlington grounds on Saturday evening.  The first to arrive were Flaxman Holding’s Duntle (Grade I Beverly D. Stakes), Team Valor International’s First Cornerstone and His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visiyani (both in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes). 

The second flight included four Arlington Million pre-entrants – Guiliano Manfredini’s Guest of Honour, Invictus’ Mull of Killough, Pearl Bloodstock’s Side Glance and Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s The Apache.  Also on that flight was the American St. Leger-bound duo of Mark Hawtin’s Wigmore Hall and Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Dandino, as well as Alan Spence’s Beverly D.-bound Gifted Girl.

The Saturday arrivals will be in quarantine until Tuesday morning. 

Expected to arrive Sunday afternoon at Arlington are Yvonne Jacques’ Grandeur (Million), Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light (Million), James Wigan’s Dank (Beverly D.) and Charles Fox’s Yeager (Secretariat). 

Night School, the award winning fan education initiative, will have two sessions this week with a focus on turf racing in general and Arlington’s International Festival of Racing in particular.  On Tuesday evening at 7:30 Central time, Night School will devote its entire 90-minute session on the factors to be considered when handicapping turf races.  Scheduled guests for Tuesday’s Night School are Churchill Downs handicapper Jill Byrne (who also provides videos for the Arlington Million web site), NBC Sports analyst Bob Neumeier and possibly Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella , who is slated to saddle Indy Point in the Arlington Million.  The chat, which will also be simulcast on SiriusXM’s “At the Races with Steve Byk” program, will be hosted by Night School founders Joe Kristufek and Jeremy Plonk. 

On Thursday evening at 7:30 central time, Kristufek (who also makes the official morning line for Arlington International) and Ed DeRosa of (the official comment provider for Arlington’s on-track program) will conduct a one-hour online chat devoted to handicapping the Arlington Million, Beverly D., Secretariat Stakes and American St. Leger.  Both chats can be accessed at and at

On Saturday at 10:45 a.m. in the Racing 101 area on the east side of the Arlington paddock, Kristufek will host a one-hour handicapping seminar with guests Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form, Pat Cummings of Trakus and and Ed DeRosa of Brisnet.

The remainder of Million Day in the Racing 101 area, Kristufek will be joined by Brian W. Spencer, Katie Gensler and Tim Brannan, offering hands on handicapping and wagering lessons, paddock tours and conducting interviews with Festival participants.