From the Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Newsletter
All eyes will be on the Arlington Park turf course outside of Chicago Saturday when the International Festival of Racing is highlighted by the Arlington Million (gr. I), which will offer a guaranteed berth into the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita.
Under the enhanced conditions of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, if the winner of the race is based in North America, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees into the Championships and provide the connections a $10,000 travel allowance. If the winner of the Million is based overseas, Breeders’ Cup will provide those connections with a $20,000 travel allowance to California.
The Million annually draws a star-studded cast of accomplished runners from all over the globe and this year’s edition should be no different, as many of the 11 pre-entered horses have notable international accomplishments.
The Million is led by Mrs. Fitriani Hay, Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Treasure Beach, who won last year’s Secretariat (gr. IT) over the Arlington turf for trainer Aidan O’Brien. The 4-year-old son of Galileo has struggled this year, going winless without hitting the board in four starts, but could return to his best over a course he obviously likes. Treasure Beach will wheel back on nine days rest in the Million, having run fourth in Leopardstown’s group III Ballyroan Aug. 9. He brings a 5-for-16 career record that also includes a win in last year’s Irish Derby (Ire-I) at the Curragh.
The American contingent is led by Priscilla Vaccarezza’sLittle Mike, who figures to flash his ample early speed for trainer Dale Romans. The 5-year-old son of Spanish Steps has won 10-of-18 career starts by using his blazing speed and will look to add the Million to a resume that also includes a win in the Woodford Reserve (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs in May.
Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada and Phipps Stable’s homebred Boisterous, first and second, respectively,in the local prep for the Million, the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 14, also warrant serious consideration. Rahystrada, an 8-year-old son of Rahy, has won multiple graded stakes during a 13-for-38 career and will look to better his fifth-place finish in last year’s Million for trainer Byron Hughes. Boisterous, a 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor , has won a trio of graded stakes for trainer Shug McGaughey, including Belmont Park’s grade III Fort Marcy in May and brings a 7-for-18 career mark into the Million.
Other notable European runners pre-entered are Mark Hawtin’s Wigmore Hall, who was second in the Secretariat in 2010 and fourth in last year’s Million for trainer Michael Bell; Darley’s Afsare, who won the listed Ambant Gala at Sandown in July for trainer Luca Cumani, Princess Haya of Jordan’s Colombian, who won the Gordon Richards (Eng-III) at Sandown in April for trainer John Gosden and Effevi and Australian T'bred Bloodstock’s Crackerjack King, who won the group I Premio Presidente Della Repubblica at Capannelle in May for trainer Marco Botti.
Completing the American lineup for the Million are Lael Stable and All In Stable’s Willcox Inn, who won the American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington last year for trainer Mike Stidham; Joseph Allen’s Vertiformer, fourth in the Arlington Handicap for trainer Wayne Catalano and Millard Seldin Revocable Trust and the Estate of Hoss Inman’s Cherokee Lord, fifth in the Arlington Handicap for trainer Charles Livesay.