Arlington Million

Road To The 2012 Million Vol. III: Wednesday, July 18, 2012

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/06/2012 #
  • Rahystrada, shown winning the 2012 Arlington Handicap, is likely to return for the Million. Photo by Four Footed Fotos


European horsemen, increasingly dominant during Arlington's International Festival of Racing over the last two summers, appear encouraged by that success and are likely to add to their invading forces for the Chicago oval's upcoming one-day Festival on Aug. 18.

The latest to be named as likely for the 30th anniversary edition of the Grade I Arlington Million is the Irish-bred Crackerjack King, owned by Effevi SNC di Villa Felice Anco and trained by Italian conditioner Marco Botti. The gray colt by Shamardal won Italy's Group I Premio Presidente della Repubblica at Capannelle May 13 and was most recently fifth in Great Britain's Group I Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown July 7.

Crackerjack King joins a list of European-based Arlington Million prospects that also includes HRH Princess Haya of Jordan's duo of the British-bred Beachfire and the Irish-bred Questioning, both trained by the British-born John Gosden who saddled Princess Haya's Debussy to win the Arlington Million two years ago.

Beachfire won the listed Wolferton Handicap during Royal Ascot's 2011 meeting and Questioning captured Newmarket's Group III Earl of Sefton Stakes last April.

Other Europeans presently pointing for Arlington Million XXX are Mark Hawtin's Wigmore Hall, fourth in last summer's Million and runner-up in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes two years ago; Khalid Abdullah's British-bred Famous Name, winner of the Group III Friarstown Stud International Stakes at The Curragh July 1 and runner-up in the Group I Tattersalls Gold Cup before that May 27; Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum's Afsare, winner of the listed Ambant Gala Stakes July 6 at Sandown and runner-up in the Presidente della Repubblica behind Crackerjack King previously; and Godolphin's City Style, sixth in Royal Ascot's Group I Prince of Wales's June 20 and third before that in the Group I Dubai Duty Free at Meydan on Dubai World Cup Day March 31.

Among the American-based possibilities for Arlington Million XXX are Robert Courtney Jr.'s Rahystrada, winner of last Saturday's Grade III Arlington Handicap and Phipps Stable's Boisterous, second by a neck in that same locally designed Arlington Million prep.

The British-bred mare Law of The Range, owned by Chris McHale and trained by Marco Botti, is the latest European-based member of the distaff set to come under consideration for Arlington's Grade I Beverly D. Stakes as the Million's sister race on the day of the International Festival.

The daughter of Alhaarth ran a decent sixth behind Princess Haya of Jordan's Beverly D. possibility Joviality in Royal Ascot's Group II Windsor Forest Stakes June 20. Incidentally, that last-named John Gosden trainee was unplaced in Newmarket's Group I Falmouth Stakes July 13 due to the soft ground that day and is believed to prefer the much firmer turf she would be likely to encounter at Arlington.

In fact, Great Britain's weather, cold and damp almost throughout the summer in direct opposition to the oppressively hot, draught-driven climate in Chicago, might end up attracting a larger than usual number of European contestants that in their most recent appearances might have been compromised by the unusually soft ground of the British Isles.

Frank Calabrese's Romacaca and Stone Farm et al.'s Upperline, first and third respectively a length and a half apart in Arlington's Grade III Modesty Handicap July 14 as the designed local prep for the upcoming $750,000 Beverly D., both currently remain among the top American candidates for the Million's sister race.

Two European-based runners that have been recently added to the list of possibilities for the inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger at a mile and 11/16ths on Arlington Million Day are the John Gosden-trained British-bred Aiken, owned and bred by internationally prominent American-born owner George Strawbridge Jr., as well as Crone Stud Farms Ltd.'s Irish-bred Ithoughtitwasover, conditioned by Great Britain's Mark Johnston.

Aiken was the winner of France's Group II Grand Prix de Chantilly June 3 and then a decent fourth behind Khalid Abdulla's Sea Moon in Royal Ascot's Group II Hardewicke Stakes June 23. Last fall, Sea Moon was second in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.

Ithoughtitwasover had a pair of listed stakes wins at Newmarket and Hambleton in May and most recently showed good early foot in Royal Ascot's Duke of Edinburgh Stakes June 23 before tiring.

Team Block's Ioya Bigtime, winner of Arlington's Grade III Stars and Stripes July 14 as the designed prep for the inaugural American St. Leger, is being considered for a return in Arlington's upcoming marathon, as is Stella Perdomo's Canadian-based Musketier, who closed late to finish second by a neck in the Stars and Stripes after winning Woodbine's Grade III Singspiel Stakes June 24.