Racing & Wagering

Road To The Million III: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/24/2009 #

Archipenko, denied victory by three-quarters of a length in last summer's Grade I Arlington Million after being boxed in much of the way, is likely to try again, according to a spokesman for the International Racing Bureau (IRB) contacted earlier this week.

Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and Dr. A. H. Parker and trained by world renowned South African-born conditioner Mike de Kock, Archipenko went to the post as the strong choice in last summer's Arlington Million based on his decisive win in Hong Kong's Group I

Audemars Piquet Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but in Chicago's showcase race the Kentucky-bred son of Kingmambo was a victim of traffic problems until finally getting clear in mid-stretch.

"Johnny (jockey Murtagh aboard third-place finisher Mount Nelson) had me trapped in all the way around," said Archipenko's rider Kevin Shea in post-race quotes after last year's Million, "and when it was time to go I begged him to let me go and he wouldn't let met through."

De Kock, equally frustrated by Archipenko' fruitless chase of France's front-running winner Spirit One, owned by Kamel Chehboub, agreed with Shea.

"There was no need for Johnny to keep us in like that," de Kock said after the race.

Assuming Archipenko comes to Chicago for a start in Arlington Million XXVII his situation will be vaguely reminiscent of that of two-time former European-based Million contestant Powerscourt, first under the wire in the 2004 Million before being subsequently disqualified, but allowed to wear the Million crown in 2005 when best by three lengths in his second attempt.

"Archipenko is likely to be pointed for the (Group I) Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in early July," said Alastair Donald of the IRB, "and the Arlington Million after that."

Arlington Million XXVII will go to the post late in the afternoon Aug. 8, preceded by the 20th anniversary edition of the Beverly D. and followed by the 33rd running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes.

Together, the only three Grade I races contested in Illinois on an annual basis make up Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing, and this summer's Arlington Million gets added international prestige because the winner will receive an automatic invitation to the Group I Japan Cup when it is run in Tokyo later in the year.

Reached by phone in the United Kingdom at the International Racing Bureau's Newmarket headquarters shortly after the conclusion of Great Britain's prestigious Royal Ascot meeting last week, Donald also updated the status of a European possibility for the Grade I Beverly D. as the Arlington Million's sister race restricted to the world's best turf-favoring fillies and mares.

"We have a filly named Moneycantbuymelove for the Beverly D.," said Donald of an Irish-bred daughter of Pivotal owned by the partnership of Wright, Stanley, Marsh, Lascelles and Harris and trained by Michael Bell.  "At the present time, she is slated to run in the Falmouth Stakes over here in July and if she runs well enough there, she would head your way."

Although Moneycantbuymelove is not an original nominee for the 2009 Beverly D., a late nomination fee of $1,500 is not due until July 29.

The 3-year-old Moneycantbuymelove captured the listed Sandringham Handicap by two lengths June 17 at the Royal Ascot session, and won Goodwood's listed Height of Fashion Stakes in her start before that May 21.  If she were to come to the United States and win the Beverly D., she would make history by becoming the first sophomore filly to do so.

Donald also indicated that the plans are being made for the Irish-bred sophomore colt Mr Topaz to make an Atlantic crossing for Arlington's Grade II American Derby July 11 as the final major Arlington prep for the Grade I Secrertariat Stakes Aug. 8.

Conditioned by Ireland's all-time leading trainer Dermot Weld Mr Topaz won the $33,000 Foxrock Handicap June 18 over the Leopardstown course on the Emerald Isle.

The American Derby follows the Arlington Classic as the middle leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, which concludes with the Secretariat Stakes.

Weld saddled Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone's Winchester to win last summer's Secretariat Stakes, and has three American Derby wins to his credit - initially with Highland Farms et al.'s Pine Dance in 2000 and then back-to-back renewals with Moyglare's Evolving Tactics in 2003 and that same ownership's Simple Exchange in 2004.

In North American updates last weekend in advance of Arlington's International Festival of Racing, original Mid-America Triple nominees Oil Man, owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds and Michael Tala, won California's Grade III Cinema Handicap, while Lime Rickey, owned by Dogwood, finished third in Virginia's Grade II Colonial Turf Cup.

Concerning the upcoming Beverly D. original nominees Tejida, owned by Helen Groves, missed by a head when runner-up in Colonial's Grade III All Along Stakes, while Darley Stable's Criticism was easily second best in Belmont's Grade III New York Stakes.

In Canada's Grade III Singspiel Stakes at Woodbine as a possible prep for the Arlington Million, original Million nominee Mission Approved, owned by William Coyro Jr., could not catch the front-running winner but held down the second spot.