Pre-entries released for Arlington Million, Beverly D., Secretariat, American St Leger
Exactly one week ahead of Arlington’s International Festival of Racing, pre-entries for the Arlington Million (G1), Beverly D. (G1), Secretariat (G1), and American St Leger (G3) were announced Saturday.
The 34th running of the Arlington Million has attracted an oversubscribed field of 15. Although it can be billed as rematch of the top two from the 2015 edition, The Pizza Man and Big Blue Kitten [now doubtful; see update below], neither enters in the same form as a year ago. Moreover, the international contingent is much more formidable than for Million 33, with a quartet comprising Woodbine Mile (G1) hero Mondialiste, Godolphin’s Tryster, Decorated Knight, and Aidan O’Brien’s sophomore Deauville coming off a Belmont Derby (G1) triumph.
World Approval and Wake Forest, the respective first and third from the United Nations (G1) in their latest, are prominent among North American-based contenders. Dixie (G2) winner Takeover Target makes it a trio from the Chad Brown barn along with reigning Eclipse Award champion Big Blue Kitten and Man o’ War (G1) hero Wake Forest. Canada’s Danish Dynaformer; local prep winners Kasaqui from the Arlington H. (G3) and Greengrassofyoming from the Stars and Stripes (G3); the Bill Mott-trained duo of Dubai Sky and Take the Stand; and Pumpkin Rumble (cross-entered to the St Leger) round out the list. Barring a withdrawal, Pumpkin Rumble won’t make the final field of 14 (as a non-group/graded winner of 2016 who has insufficient earnings).
The Arlington Million is a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1).
***Sunday update: Big Blue Kitten has developed a foot abscess that's likely ending his hopes of a return trip to Arlington, Brown reports.
"As of this morning, it looks doubtful that he'll be able to make the trip to Arlington," the trainer said. "It looks like something he'll be able to get over in time and be OK, but the timing's terrible."
Unlike the deeply competitive Million, the companion Beverly D. has a readily identifiable one to beat in Grade/Group 2 star Sea Calisi from the Brown barn. O’Brien has a pair of sophomore fillies engaged, Coolmore and Ballydoyle, last seen finishing third and a too-bad-to-be-true last as the favorite in the Belmont Oaks (G1). Invading from France are Argentinean Group 1 winner Pretty Girl, now with Mikel Delzangles, and Elusive Million, who was not an early Beverly D. nominee. Like Sea Calisi, Elusive Million is owned by Martin Schwartz, and her thin resume gives her the look of a possible pacemaker.
The top five from the course-and-distance Modesty (G3) – Faufiler, Al’s Gal, Secret Someone, No Fault of Mine, and Marypop – are all set to renew rivalry. Mike Stidham, who trains Secret Someone and Marypop, has yet another player in Dr. James Penny Memorial (G3) winner Zipessa. Penny runner-up Tuttipaesi, Personal Diary, and comebacker Lots o’Lex complete the capacity field of 14.
The Beverly D. is a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
The Secretariat may be lacking the top two from the Belmont Derby, with Deauville opting to take on his elders in the Million and runner-up Highland Sky sitting this one out, but it still features no fewer than four alumni of that race. The Brown-trained Beach Patrol, a solid third at Belmont, aims to uphold the form against fifth-placer Surgical Strike (winner of the Arlington Classic two back); sixth Long Island Sound, an O’Brien invader who went off as the favorite, and is surprisingly the lone international in the Secretariat; and seventh Applicator.
Preakness (G1) runner-up Cherry Wine switches to turf for Dale Romans, a sensible move as he’s by 2010 Secretariat winner Paddy O’Prado, while Kent (G3) victor American Patriot steps up in class for Todd Pletcher. The one-two from the local American Derby (G3), One Mean Man and Oscar Nominated, square off again over an extra furlong. Oscar Nominated gets the help of presumptive pacemaker Scissors and Tape, and last-out maiden winner Cordon swings for the fences.
The 1 11/16-mile American St Leger has a prime American hope in Da Big Hoss, fresh off justifying favoritism in the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup. As ever, there’s substantial international representation in Germany’s Wasir, Moroccan-bred but French-based Billabong, and Ireland’s Clondaw Warrior, a dual-purpose performer who just won over hurdles at Galway.
Da Big Hoss is one of three pre-entrants for trainer Mike Maker, who can also call upon Generous Kitten and recent claim Rocket Professor. O’Prado Ole missed by a whisker to Million runner Greengrassofyoming in the Stars and Stripes, with cross-entered Pumpkin Rumble third and The Pizza Man fourth in a blanket finish. Messi stretches out off a third in the Arlington ‘Cap, while the old class horse Montclair, Tobias, and Hart Hills Road conclude the dozen.
According to the Arlington condition book, starters for the International Festival of Racing will be declared Tuesday. On Sunday, we'll begin posting our scouting reports on the international shippers.
Images courtesy of Arlington Stakes Coordinator Michael Adolphson via Twitter