Trainer Chad Brown has a hot hand for the Arlington Million (gr. IT) Aug. 15 at Arlington International Racecourse, which has drawn a motley crew of international contenders among 13 entered for the 2015 edition.
With Slumber and Big Blue Kitten , who finished 1-2 in the June 6 Knob Creek Manhattan Stakes (gr. IT) and then reversed that order July 5 in the United Nations (gr. IT), the New York-based conditioner appears the one to beat in Arlington's marquee event.
Big Blue Kitten, owned by 2013 Arlington Million-winning owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, is favored at 3-1 on the morning line and will break from post 4 under regular rider Joe Bravo in the 1 1/4-mile turf test. The 7-year-old son of Kitten's Joy won the United Nations by 1 1/2 lengths over the late-closing Slumber. He also counts the 2013 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) among his five career victories.
The only multiple grade I winner in the field, Big Blue Kitten will be aided by a rabbit—the Ramseys' Shining Copper, who successfully completed his pacesetting mission last out in the United Nations, when he faded to fourth in his grade I debut for Brown.
Veteran local Chris Emigh picks up the mount from post 9 on Shining Copper, a 5-year-old son of Aragorn who is 30-1 on the morning line.
Slumber, whose Manhattan was his lone grade I victory for Michael Dubb, Sheep Pond Partners, and Bethlehem Stables, breaks from post 2 under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. In the money in four of his five tries at the distance, the 7-year-old Cacique runner has been pointed to the Million all season and lands at 7-2 on the morning line. Last time out in the 1 3/8-mile United Nations, he had to steady midway on the far turn, but still closed with a good effort.
A familiar foe of these two will take them on again—Walter Swinburn's Naill Saville-trained Legendary, who was third last out in the Manhattan. The grade III winner is 2-for-3 at the Arlington Million distance and was the lone forwardly-placed runner to be around at the end of the Manhattan. Sheldon Russell returns to the saddle after recovering from injury and will break from post 6 at morning-line odds of 15-1.
Illinois-bred The Pizza Man is undefeated in his last five trips over the surface and exits a July 11 victory in the $100,000 Stars and Stripes (gr. IIIT) at 1 1/2 miles. Florent Geroux returns to the saddle for the Midwest Thoroughbreds' homebred son of English Channel from post 7 for trainer Roger Brueggemann.
Another with recent local success is Warner Thoroughbreds' Mike Maker-trained Quiet Force, who took down the Million's local prep, the $100,000 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) at 1 3/16 miles July 11. The Dynaformer runner breaks from post 8 under Robby Albarado at 15-1.
Sam-Son Farm's Up With the Birds returns to the Million again this year after finishing fourth, beaten five lengths, in the 2014 edition. While last year's running was an afterthought in a season where winning at the top level in any race was the overall goal, this year the connections of this 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic runner—including new trainer Graham Motion—have circled the Million on their calendar as their major target.
Coming into the Million for his third race of the season, after strong efforts in the July 11 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) and May 16 Longines Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT)—each with valid excuses—this grade I-winning 2013 Canadian Horse of the Year is a major player. The 5-year-old bay breaks from the rail under Drayden Van Dyke and has been assigned 12-1 morning-line odds.
Two horses slightly more fancied on the morning line are Team Valor International and Gary Barber's Triple Threat and Godolphin Racing's Maverick Wave. Triple Threat, a 5-year-old by Monsun trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, took the June 7 Monmouth Cup (gr. IIIT) in his U.S. debut and tries grade I company for the first time here, from post 10 under Jose Lezcano at odds of 6-1. England-based group III winner Maverick Wave, a 4-year-old Elusive Quality colt conditioned by John Gosden, is in post 11 under Godolphin contract rider William Buick.
Of the international contenders, Klaus Allofs and Gestut Fahrhof's German-bred Wake Forest appears to be entering the Million in best form. Conditioned in Germany by Andreas Wohler, the 5-year-old Sir Percy runner exits a fine triumph in the July 3 Hambug Trophy (Ger-III) at the Million distance. Eduardo Pedroza is up from post 5.
The field for the Arlington Million is completed by three Europeans from three different countries who are not without a chance, but would have to improve in order to prove victorious—Damian Lavelle's Elleval, PJL's globetrotting handicapper Belgian Bill, and the lightly-raced and highly-regarded Mikel Delzangles trainee Bookrunner.
Arlington International Racecourse, Saturday, August 15, 2015, Race 10
- 1 1/4m
- 3 yo's & up
- 5:48 PM (local)
|1||1Up With the Birds (ON)||Drayden Van Dyke||126||H. Graham Motion||-|
|2||2Slumber (GB)||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||126||Chad C. Brown||-|
|3||3Bookrunner (KY)||Gerald Mosse||126||Mikel Delzangles||-|
|4||4Big Blue Kitten (KY)||Joe Bravo||126||Chad C. Brown||-|
|5||5Wake Forest (GER)||Eduardo Pedroza||126||Andreas Wohler||-|
|6||6Legendary (GB)||Sheldon Russell||126||Niall Saville||-|
|7||7The Pizza Man (IL)||Florent Geroux||126||Roger A. Brueggemann||-|
|8||8Quiet Force (KY)||Robby Albarado||126||Michael J. Maker||-|
|9||9Shining Copper (KY)||Christopher A. Emigh||126||Chad C. Brown||-|
|10||10Triple Threat (FR)||Jose Lezcano||126||William I. Mott||-|
|11||11Maverick Wave (KY)||William T. Buick||126||John H. M. Gosden||-|
|12||12Elleval (IRE)||Patrick J. Smullen||126||DAVID MARNANE||-|
|13||13Belgian Bill (GB)||Jamie P. Spencer||126||GEORGE BAKER||-|