Arlington Million, Beverly D. top International Festival
No winner of the Arlington Handicap has gone on to win the Million in the latter's three decade history. For the eight-year-old Rahystrada, this marks his third attempt at the Million following a fourth in 2010 and a fifth last year. Showing rare speed in the July 14 Arlington Handicap, Rahystrada is likely to revert to a more typical stalk-and-pounce strategy on Saturday and will need a career best at his advance age to become the oldest winner of the race since The Tin Man won at age eight in 2006.
The likely Million pacesetter is Little Mike, who is two-for-two over nine furlongs this year including an upset win in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Surprisingly left alone on the front end in the race, the gelding cut back in distance for the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on June 30, but retreated to third after getting caught up in a speed duel.
Willcox Inn has won three of four over the Arlington turf, including the Grade 2 American Derby and Arlington Classic last season. Fourth on boggy ground in the Secretariat while attempting to sweep Arlington's Mid-America Triple, he recently returned from an eight-length layoff to capture a one-mile allowance over the local sod by measured half-length.
The remainder of the domestic contingent -- Cherokee Lord and Vertiformer -- were fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Arlington Handicap. The latter was cross-entered to Saturday's $400,000 Arlington St Leger.
Wigmore Hall is no stranger to Arlington having run second in the 2010 Secretariat and fourth in last year's Million. The England-based gelding has not won on his home continent in two years, but picked up wins in a Group 2 in Dubai as well as the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf in Canada last year. Needless to say he tends to outperform expectations away from home.
Trainer John Gosden, who won the Million two years ago with Debussy, will saddle Colombian, a four-year-old who's been unplaced twice since taking the Group 3 Gordon Richards over heavy ground at Newmarket in April.
The remainder of the U.S. contingent consists of Romacaca and Upperline, first and third, respectively, in the course-and-distance Grade 3 Modesty Handicap last month. Both are multiple Grade 3 winners but neither placed in their respective previous attempt in the Beverly D. Canadian mainstay Stars to Shine won a Grade on Polytrack last time but has never won a grass stakes.Gosden has entered Joviality in the Beverly D. for Princess Haya of Jordan. A game winner of the Group 2 Windsor Forest over a mile at Royal Ascot in June, she was subsequently below par when trailing the Group 1 Falmouth over soft ground at Newmarket. At three, Joviality captured the Group 3 Musidora at 1 5/16 miles.
I'm a Dreamer won a Group 3 in England last year and later missed in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor over 10 furlongs at Woodbine by a head. Though winless in three starts this term, she finished third behind the top-class Izzi Top in both the Group 2 Middleton and Group 1 Pretty Polly earlier in the year.
An intriguing invader is the German-bred Kapitale, a Group 3 winner whose last start came in the Group 1 Premio Lydia Tesio in Italy last October. Third in that 1 1/4-mile test in Rome, she's trained by Andreas Wohler, who won the Arlington Million with Silvano in 2001.
The field is rounded out by the three-year-old Up. The Coolmore-owned filly has just a maiden win on synthetic to her credit, but has placed three times in group company this year including the Group 1 French One Thousand Guineas.
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