Breeders' Cup contenders from Arlington
By Tim Holland
After previewing Arlington juveniles earlier this week, I will focus on Breeders’ Cup contenders who competed at Arlington and are ages 3 & up.
The highlight of the recently concluded Chicago meet was the Arlington Million (G1) in mid-August from which six runners hit the wire within two lengths of each other, with last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) runner-up MONDIALISTE narrowly prevailing.
Trying the Million 10-furlong trip for just the second time, Mondialiste produced his best performance since rallying furiously in the Mile at Keeneland last fall, finishing a little more than two lengths behind Tepin. Being by Galileo and now matured at the age 6, one can envision the 1 ½-mile distance of the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) being within Mondialiste's reach. However, given he’s out of the Group 1-winning sprinter Occupandiste, Mondialiste seems more likely to aim toward another Mile appearance. Firm ground, which will be likely found at Santa Anita, suits the bay and Mondialiste figures to be charging late again but is facing another match-up against the exceptional Tepin.
Closing as the Million runner-up was the improving KASAQUI. The gray has yet to tackle the 12-furlong trip of the Breeders' Cup Turf but should be capable at the distance as a son of Lasting Approval and out of a mare by Alysheba. Kasaqui has proved that firm turf is his preferred footing and can be a live longshot if pointed to the Turf at Santa Anita.
Coming off a win in the contentious Belmont Derby (G1), DEAUVILLE took on older runners for the first time in the Million and made a move to the lead before being outrun late in a close third. Like Mondialiste, Deauville is by Galileo and given he’s out of a Danehill mare, the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt should find a 1 ½-mile distance suitable. The bay possesses tactical speed and will likely be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Turf due to his affinity for firm ground.
THE PIZZA MAN posted a deceptively good sixth in a Million title defense. Last year’s winner was far back early before being swung eight wide and The Pizza Man finished well to be beaten just 1 ½ lengths by the winner. The seven-year-old scored his first win in five starts this year when capturing the 12-furlong Northern Dancer (G1) at Woodbine next out, tracking a slow early pace before gamely out-finishing rivals, and the Illinois-bred gelding has now won four of 10 starts at the Breeders' Cup Turf distance. While a trip to Santa Anita has not been confirmed for the son of English Channel, The Pizza Man could be a factor if the Turf option is taken.
Farther back in the Million field was WAKE FOREST, who encountered some traffic trouble in a disappointing unplaced effort. The son of Sir Percy was not helped by the pedestrian fractions and came back to record a commendable second to The Pizza Man in the Northern Dancer, suggesting his showing in the Million is best forgiven. Wake Forest won the 11-furlong Man O War (G1) on firm ground at Belmont earlier this year and with a pair of seconds versus Grade 1 rivals in his two starts at 1 ½ miles, he provides trainer Chad Brown (who already has Flintshire) with another contender for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
The four-year-old SEA CALISI was perhaps the most impressive winner on the Arlington Million card, overcoming a wide post to impressively swoop past a full field in the Beverly D (G1) over 1 3/16 miles. Daughter of Youmzain has now won two of three starts since joining the Brown barn this year, displaying a terrific closing kick while closing from far off the pace, and she proved as comfortable on Arlington’s firm turf as she did recording a pair of thirds in Group 1 events on soft footing last year in Europe. With standouts Flintshire and Tepin pointing for the Turf and Mile at Santa Anita, Sea Calisi rates as the most likely Breeders' Cup winner seen at Arlington this year as she targets the Filly and Mare Turf (G1) at the Beverly D distance.
The improving mare AL'S GAL closed from far off the pace to nearly spring an upset when second to Sea Calisi in the Beverly D and came back to win the 1 5/16-mile Ladies Marathon at Kentucky Downs in September. On past form, daughter of English Channel would have been considered well below the class of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. However, she has proved an astute claim by Mike Maker early last year and could possibly garner a small share if sent to Santa Anita.
Almost as impressive as Sea Calisi on Million day was DA BIG HOSS, who recorded his third straight win while easily proving best from off the pace in the American St Leger (G3) over 1 11/16 miles. Son of Lemon Drop Kid closed to finish a non-threatening sixth in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf but appears to have improved this year and while other options may appeal more to connections (Melbourne Cup is a possibility), the five-year-old would not be without a shot for at least a share if given another chance.
BEACH PATROL stalked the pace before narrowly winning the 12-furlong Secretariat Stakes (G1) on Million Day. Son of Lemon Drop Kid finished well in his previous start when third in the Belmont Derby, a race whose form has held up well, and Beach Patrol’s pedigree suggests distance should not be a problem if connections elect to stretch him out to 1 ½ miles for the first time in the Breeders' Cup Turf. He would be another to consider for a minor award.
Narrowly defeated after being near the front from the start in the Secretariat, LONG ISLAND SOUND gave a fine account finishing second for O'Brien. Three-year-old is out of a half-sister to Zenyatta but being by War Front, he may be more suited to the distance if opting for the Breeders' Cup Mile rather than the Turf. Long Island Sound is suited to firm ground and, with his tactical speed, could be one to get a good trip if returning to America in November.
SARAH SIS led from the start to win the Chicago H (G3) earlier in the Arlington meet before throwing in two sub-par efforts at Saratoga. Daughter of Sharp Humor was perhaps not at ease on the Saratoga surface and returned to form in her latest, leading gate-to-wire in the Presque Isle Masters (G2) over 6 ½ furlongs. Four-year-old will reportedly tackle the “Win and You're In” Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) at Keeneland in an effort to earn a berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1). Sarah Sis is unbeaten in two previous starts at Keeneland, including an upset win from just off the pace in the Raven Run (G2) last fall, and another strong effort will send her to Santa Anita.
Mondialiste & Sea Calisi photos courtesy of Four Footed Fotos