With the dearth of true marathon distance events in North American racing, Arlington Park enhanced its International Festival of Racing program in 2012 by inaugurating the $400,000 American St. Leger at 1 11/16 miles on the turf Aug. 18.
Judging by the response at the entry box for Saturday’s event with 12 runners, the new race looks to be a hit.
The American St. Leger joins a big 12-race card that includes a troika of grade I turf races: the 30th running of the Arlington Million for older turf stars, the $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies and mares, and the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-old grass runners of international caliber. The American St. Leger is set as the seventh race on the program with a probable post of 3:14 p.m. CDT.
Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Jakkalberry has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite. The 6-year-old finished third in his first two races of the year, the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (UAE-IIIT)and the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-IT) at Meydan in March. He reported home fifth in his most recent race, the Hardwicke Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot June 23.
Trained by Marco Botti, the son of Storming Home will have Colm O’Donoghue, who won last year’s Secretariat aboard Treasure Beach, in the irons. Jakkalberry breaks from post 8.
Team Block’s Illinois-bred Ioya Bigtime, winner of the Stars and Stripes (gr. IIIT) at Arlington on Million Preview Day July 14, is the shortest price of the American-based runners at 9-2. Ioya Bigtime opened a six-length advantage in the stretch run of the Stars and Stripes and held on well for his second win in seven starts on the Arlington grass.
The son of Dynaformer is trained by Arlington mainstay Chris Block and will be ridden Saturday by Jeffrey Sanchez, who is competing at Arlington for the first time this season.
Suntracer, Ioya Bigtime’s stablemate, would be returning on one week’s rest should he start in the St. Leger. The Illinois-bred son of Kitten's Joy won the Aug. 11 Illinois Owners Stakes over the course and before that was third to his stablemate in the Stars and Stripes. Eduardo Perez would ride.
German-bred Zuider Zee, owned by H. R. H. Princess Haya of Jordan, is another European invader likely to command some respect at the betting windows. The John Gosden-trained son of Sakhee is a long-distance specialist who is turning back from a race that was a mile longer than the American St. Leger in his last start in June at Ascot. He finished fourth.
Earlier this year, the 5-year-old gelding was second in a 1 ¾-mile race at Nottingham and then finished in a dead-heat for fourth in the Henry II Stakes (Eng-III) at Sandown. William Buick, who won the 2012 Arlington Million aboard Debussy for these same connections, has the mount.
Italian import Lake Drop, a recent purchase by Team Valor International and now trained by Graham Motion, will be making his first start stateside in the American St. Leger. The son of Lemon Drop Kid won his final start overseas when he captured the Premio Carlo d’Alessio (Ity-III) at Capannelle in May. Ramon Dominguez will be aboard Lake Drop.
One other European invader, Bridge of Gold, is slated to start in the St. Leger. The Mikael Magnusson-trained son of champion Giant's Causeway was third in a group III race at Newbury in April but has finished unplaced in two subsequent starts. Kieren Fallon gets the call.
$400,000 American St. Leger Stakes (Race 7, 3:14 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 11/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Vertiformer (KY), J R Leparoux, 119, W M Catalano
2. Helicopter (FL), B Meier, 119, L Rivelli
3. Lemonade Kid (IL), F C Torres, 119, A Mitchell
4. Lumberyard Jack (IL), M Gutierrez, 121, D F O'Neill
5. Lake Drop (KY), R A Dominguez, 121, H G Motion
6. Suntracer (IL), E E Perez, 121, C M Block
7. Game Ball (KY), J L Espinoza, 119, N Chatterpaul
8. Jakkalberry (IRE), C O'Donoghue, 119, M Botti
9. Lethal (IL), J E Felix, 119, J Haran
10. Zuider Zee (GER), W T Buick, 119, J H Gosden
11. Ioya Bigtime (IL), J Sanchez, 123, C M Block
12. Bridge of Gold (KY), K Fallon, 119, M Magnusson