Robert Bruce Showcases Terrific Acceleration in Arlington Million

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 12th, 2018

With just one furlong left to run, victory appeared to be out of the question.

There was Robert Bruce, the Chilean-bred sensation, with just one horse beaten and seven horses left to pass in Saturday’s $1,000,000 Arlington Million (gr. I) at Arlington Park. Five lengths separated him from the leader, and to make matters even more challenging, his Grade 1-winning stablemate Almanaar was much closer to the lead and poised to seize command.

Surely there was no way Robert Bruce could close the gap. The early pace, set by Century Dream, had been modest—:23.66, :48.28, and 1:12.96—putting the late-running Robert Bruce at a disadvantage. Furthermore, Robert Bruce had to circle very wide in the homestretch, losing precious time and momentum as he shifted to the extreme outside.

But in that final furlong, under encouragement from jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., Robert Bruce accelerated powerfully and began gobbling up ground with furious strides. He went past the European longshot Circus Couture; he rolled right by the race favorite Oscar Performance. Deauville and Catcho En Die were no match; even the talented Money Multiplier couldn’t hang on.

In the end, it came down to Century Dream, Almanaar, and Robert Bruce. For a few brief moments, it appeared that the finish would be close. But once Robert Bruce stretched out and hit full stride, it was clear that he held the advantage. In the waning yards of the 1 ¼-mile race, Robert Bruce surged clear to win by a well-measured half-length over Almanaar, recording a final time of 2:02.29 seconds.
Both the winner and the runner-up are conditioned by Chad Brown, the two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer who has dominated turf racing in the U.S. over the last several years. By securing the victory, Robert Bruce earned a “Win and You’re In” berth to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) at Churchill Downs and brought his career record to a near-perfect 8-for-9. His lone defeat came in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (gr. I) two months ago, in which he was beaten just a length despite a traffic-filled trip that prevented him from mounting a challenge.

Although he has yet to run farther than 1 ¼ miles in North America, Robert Bruce was a Group 1 winner in Chile over the 1 ½-mile distance of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, suggesting that extra distance won’t be an issue. In recent years, the Breeders’ Cup Turf has been dominated by horses shipping in from Europe—in fact, there have been just two North American-based winners in the last decade. But Robert Bruce, with his tremendous turn-of-foot, appears to have a legitimate chance to secure a win for the home team this fall.