Arlington Million

Road to the Million: Vol. 6 - July 16, 2008

Churchill Downs Communications | 07/16/2008 #
  • Archipenko winning at Ascot

With a courageous three quarter-length tally in Ascot’s Group II Summer Mile Stakes July 12, the globetrotting Archipenko, owned by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, now takes on the long-range favorite’s mantle for the upcoming Grade I Arlington Million less than four weeks away on Aug. 9.

The Arlington Million, along with the $750,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes, is one of three Grade I races that will make up Arlington’s International Festival of Racing on that second Saturday in August, and with Archipenko on track for this summer’s centerpiece event of Chicago’s Thoroughbred racing season, the international flavor of this Festival gets an appetizing additional garnish.

Arlington Million XXVI, to be contested at a mile and a quarter over Arlington’s world-famous turf course, has long been the goal of Archipenko’s South African-born trainer Michael de Kock. Last weekend’s eight-furlong Ascot run was planned merely as a tune-up for Chicago’s showcase. However, in consideration of the shorter distance of the Ascot race, Archipenko responded to the encouragement of regular rider Kevin Shea in the late stages to give de Kock his first career win in Great Britain.

“He’s a real little champ who we thought might need the race so it was an excellent win,” said Shea. “Mike has always wanted to have a winner in Britain and I’m happy to share this winner with him. This is great for South African racing as we’ve tried nearly everything by going to all these countries and this is something special. Archipenko has done everything right since he’s been with us, he beat a top class field and he’s a top-class horse.”

Before Saturday’s Summer Mile score, Archipenko took down winning honors in his previous start April 27 in Hong Kong, where he came from well back to capture the Group I Audemars Piquet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin. Prior to that win, the 4-year-old son of Kingmambo was third, but only beaten a half-length for the win, in the Grade I Dubai Duty Free March 29 at Nad Al Sheba.

The Kentucky-bred colt is named in honor of the Ukrainian avant-garde artist and sculptor Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) whose work exemplified the Cubist movement that gained momentum in the early 1900s.

Another European-based horse now under consideration for the Arlington Million is Dr. Michael O’Brien’s Lord Admiral, second at last asking May 11 in Ireland’s Group III Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown. The 7-year-old trained by Charles O’Brien has shown inconsistent form in the past, but in his finer moments has beaten the highly regarded Jay Peg in the Grade II Jebel Hatta Nayef at Nad Al Sheba March 6 this season, and was also a good third to Archipenko in Nad Al Sheba’s Grade II Al Fahidi Fort on Feb. 21.

Also, in last Saturday’s Grade III Arlington Handicap, the Million’s local prep, both the winner Stream Cat and the runner-up Cosmonaut remain under consideration for the Million.

Stream Cat’s trainer “Rusty” Arnold said of his horse, owned by Fab Oak Stable, Bobby Hurley and John Goldthorpe: “A lot depends on what Mr. Goldthorpe tells me. He is the managing partner for Stream Cat. I would think either the Arlington Million or the (Del Mar’s Grade I) Pacific Classic (Aug. 26) would be on the schedule.”

Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut, twice the winner of the Arlington Handicap before finishing as the runner-up July 12, also is not to be ruled out of the Arlington Million at this time.

“Rene (Arlington’s champion jockey Douglas) told me after the race not to be too disappointed,” said trainer Carlos Martin, speaking of Cosmonaut’s rider. “He thinks he would run a lot better over a firm turf course if it comes up that way for the Million.”

Updates on European-based possibilities for the Beverly D. as the Arlington Million’s sister race restricted to fillies and mares, include the addition of the French-bred filly Cicerole, owned by the Rothschild Family. The daughter of Barathea, bred by the late Baron Guy De Rothschild and trained by Jean Claude Rouget, was beaten a half-length at last asking in Great Britain’s 1 1/16-miles Group III Princess Elizabeth Stakes June 7 at Epsom Downs, but was closing fast and should appreciate the 1 3/16-miles distance of the Beverly D.

European-based possibilities for the Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds of international caliber, now include Michael Tabor’s Plan, trained by Irish-born Aidan O’Brien. Plan, a Kentucky-bred who has been campaigned solely on the Emerald Isle in five trips to the post, won the Group III Keeneland International Stakes at The Curragh at last asking July 12.

Ready and willing to oppose European invaders Plan and the Irish-bred Collection in the Secretariat is America’s top grass-favoring sophomore Tizadejavu, who won July 12’s Grade II American Derby at Arlington by two and a quarter-lengths. Owned by Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth, Tizdejavu won the Grade II Jefferson Cup June 14 and the Grade III Crown Royal American Turf May 2 while at Churchill Downs this spring.

“We’re planning on bringing him back for the Secretariat,” said Tizdejavu’s trainer Greg Fox on the morning after the American Derby.