Arlington Million

Stotsfold Still On Target for Arlington Million

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/24/2009 #

In Today's Notes: 

  • Stotsfold Still On Target for Arlington Million
  • Black Tie Affair Now Among Old Friends
  • Graham Crack Another Riding Double Thursday

British-bred Stotsfold, owned by Peter Harris and winner of France's Group III La Coupe Stakes at last asking June 18, remains on target for the Grade I Arlington Million Aug. 8 despite his late defection from Saturday's Group II York Stakes at York Racecourse.

"The ground at York has come up a bit on the soft side for Saturday's race," said Alastair Donald, director of the International Racing Bureau (IRB), while speaking over the phone from his Newmarket office Friday morning.  "Stotsfold really prefers fast ground.

"Also, he really didn't need the race Saturday," Donald said.  "Now they (Stotsfold's connections) are planning to come straight to the Million.  They didn't want to give Stotsfold two hard races in a row."

However, Arlington Million candidate Tazeez, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, remains in the field for this weekend's York highlight, but also is still penciled in for a trip to Chicago's showcase Thoroughbred event shortly after Saturday's test.

"(Tazeez) Trainer John Gosden will be at Ascot Saturday for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and will not accompany Tazeez to York," said Donald.  "Nevertheless, we will make sure we get a reaction from Gosden concerning his horse's Million status immediately following his (York) run."

Tazeez is a 5-year-old son of Silver Hawk out of a Nureyev mare who finished fifth but only beaten four lengths in the Group I Prince of Wales's Stakes June 17 during the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting.

Gosden, 51, was born in Sussex, England, began his career in Great Britain, moved his operation to Southern California for a number of years, but then returned to his native land several years ago.||

Tazeez and Stotsfold will both represent Great Britain in the Million.

The 27th running of the Arlington Million, which annually attracts some of the world's best turf horses, will go to the post late in the afternoon on the second Saturday in August, preceded by the 20th anniversary edition of the Grade I Beverly D. Stakes for the world's best grass-favoring fillies and mares and the 33rd running of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds of international turf caliber.

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 victor will receive an automatic invitation to the Group I Japan Cup when it is run in Tokyo later in the year.

Leading candidates for Arlington Million XXVII now include such top European-based horses as Stefan Friborg's Gloria de Campeao, hero of the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji Racecourse May 17; and Godolphin's Gladiatorus, impressive winner of the Grade I Dubai Duty Free at Nad Al Sheba March 29 on Dubai World Cup Day.

They are set to match strides with a host of North American-based turf horses headed by Midnight Cry Stable's Einstein, a multiple Grade I grass winner in the United States, and Castleton Lyons' Gio Ponti, a winner of his last three in a row - all on turf in Grade I company.

Jerry Sullivan's Black Tie Affair, who won the 1991 Breeders' Cup Classic, was Irish-bred but Chicago-based during his racing career, stabled under the shedrow of the late Arlington conditioner Ernie Poulos.

However, the local hero began his stud career at The Vinery in central Kentucky, was then moved to Japan for a number of seasons, returned to the United States to stand in Virginia, and then finally moved to West Virginia to close out years as a stallion.

Now Black Tie Affair has retired from his second career and arrived back in Kentucky Wednesday morning to join a host of fellow equine retirees at Old Friends Farm.

"They are happy to have him there," said trainer Dee Poulos, widow of Ernie Poulos, speaking at Arlington late this week.  "They say he is going to be their newest big star.  The funny thing is that Old Friends's pensioners are treated by the same vet that Black Tie Affair used to have at The Vinery - so he truly is among old friends."

Irish-born jockey James Graham, who finished second in the final 2008 Arlington Park jockey standings, rode two winners Thursday at the local oval and holds down the second spot, two winners in front of his closest pursuer while seven wins in arrears of current leader E. T. Baird.