Deauville, Scottish among internationals pre-entered in Arlington Million
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Deauville, a close third in the 2016 Million as a sophomore, is back for another tilt, while Godolphin has dispatched Caulfield Cup (G1) runner-up Scottish from Charlie Appleby’s yard, and Prix d’Ispahan (G1) victor Mekhtaal has the look of a proper contender for Jean-Claude Rouget. Scottish and Mekhtaal were fifth and sixth, respectively, to Highland Reel last out in the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot. Marco Botti’s Fanciful Angel, in contrast, gets a rare chance at the top level.
Deauville has come back in fine form this campaign, capturing the Huxley (G3) and placing in four stakes, most significantly the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) and Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot. He will get a rematch with Argentine-bred Kasaqui, who just missed here to Mondialiste a year ago.
Kasaqui forms part of the domestic contingent including 2015 Million hero The Pizza Man, rounding back into top form after a subpar sixth as the defending champ. Two-time Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) star Divisidero was most recently sixth in the Manhattan (G1) to Ascend, who has since finished a better-than-appears fourth in the Bowling Green (G2). Beach Patrol, Chad Brown’s only Million candidate, returns to the scene of his triumph in the 2016 Secretariat. Third in the United Nations (G1) in his latest, Beach Patrol was previously chasing Divisidero and Ascend. Mervin Muniz Memorial (G2) scorer Enterprising; Ghost Hunter, successful in the local prep, the Arlington H. (G3), over Oak Brook and Kasaqui; and Oscar Nominated add to the field of 13.
The 1 1/4-mile Million and its sister race, the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D., serve as “Win & You’re In” events for their respective Breeders’ Cup divisions, the Turf (G1) and Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
The Beverly D. didn’t attract the same degree of international interest, with Ballydoyle flagbearer Rain Goddess and Peter Schiergen’s Sarandia the only pre-entrants coming across the ocean. Three-year-old Rain Goddess was runner-up to the older Nezwaah in the Pretty Polly (G1) before finishing best of the rest in the Irish Oaks (G1) behind all-conquering Enable. Sarandia, second in the 2016 German Oaks (G1), has since racked up three listed wins.
There’s no shortage of international influence, however, since the top North American-based contenders are imports. Or more specifically, the Beverly D. could turn into a South American mano-a-mano with Chilean champion Dacita versus Argentine champion Dona Bruja. Both have excelled north of the equator. Dacita scored her signature win in last summer’s Diana (G1), and Dona Bruja is two-for-two here, including the course-and-distance Modesty (G3) over Prado’s Sweet Ride.
Dacita is one of a trio from the Brown barn. Seeking his third straight Beverly D., Brown also calls upon Juddmonte’s British-bred Grand Jete, whose perfect 3-0 U.S. mark features the Eatontown (G3), and dual Canadian Grade 2 queen Rainha Da Bateria. Irish-bred Hawksmoor has taken both her starts this term for Arnaud Delacour, the Beaugay (G3) and New York (G2), beating Dacita and Kitten’s Roar (in the latter), while Mike Stidham’s Zipessa aims to improve on her third in last year’s Beverly D.
The 1 1/4-mile Secretariat for three-year-olds is shaping up to be a vintage renewal between a robust international delegation and a couple of above-average Americans.
The high-class Permian invades from Yorkshire for Mark Johnston. The winner of the Dante (G2) and Royal Ascot’s King Edward VII (G2), he just missed in a heartbreaking photo in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1). Permian spearheads the transatlantic squad rounded out by Prix Eugene Adam (G2) runner-up Afandem (Million contender Mekhtaal’s stablemate) and O’Brien’s French Derby (G1) fourth Taj Mahal, who’s been employed as a pacemaker of late.
Of the Americans, Oscar Performance has already bowled over international fields in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Belmont Derby Invitational (G1). Frostmourne has looked a class apart in the Penn Mile (G2) and Kent (G3), but the Christophe Clement pupil now stretches out to 1 1/4 miles for the first time. Sonic Boom and Gorgeous Kitten served up in the exacta in Arlington’s American Derby (G3).
Surprisingly, the American St Leger (G3) will be an all-American affair for the first time in its five-year history. The newest addition to the International Festival of Racing in 2012, the 1 11/16-mile marathon was a happy hunting ground for the Europeans, who won three and dominated the placings in the other two.
Trainer Mike Maker scored last year with Da Big Hoss, and Taghleeb appears a worthy successor in light of his course-record H. Allen Jerkens and subsequent W.L. McKnight (G3) victory at Gulfstream. Maker is double-handed with Keystoneforvictory, winner of the Stars and Stripes (G3) as his local prep over Million-bound The Pizza Man and Applicator.
Edward Graham, who saddled Hardest Core to a Million shocker in 2014, now has Postulation. Like Hardest Core, he’s coming off a resounding win in the Cape Henlopen at Delaware. Last year’s Louisville (G3) hero Bullards Alley; current Hanshin Cup (G3) victor Crewman; Tobias, sixth in the 2016 Leger; and the class-challenged starter allowance runner Alpha Warrior complete the list.
Stay tuned to the TwinSpires blog for much more Arlington coverage through Million week, including international scouting reports.
Four Footed Fotos shot of 2016 Arlington Million reveals The Pizza Man (far left), Deauville (second from right), and Kasaqui (gray on rail)
Dona Bruja courtesy Four Footed Fotos