Dale Romans is unsure whether any horse will usurp I'll Have Another as leader of the 3-year-old male division, but one thing is almost certain: the winner of the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) on Aug. 18 at Arlington Park will become leader of the 3-year-old turf division.
Romans will saddle three in the Secretariat, including Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) winner Silver Max for Mark Bacon and Dana Wells, and American Derby (gr. IIIT) winner Cozzetti for the Albaugh Family Stable, in an attempt to become the first trainer to sweep the Mid-America Triple with multiple horses. Donegal Racing's Finnegans Wake, third to Silver Max in the Virginia Derby, rounds out the trio.
The Secretariat is one of three grade I stakes races on the card that comprises Arlington's International Festival of Racing and will be run as the eighth on a 12-race card with an approximate post time of 3:48 p.m. CDT.
Robby Albarado will ride Silver Max, who has won his past six starts. Shaun Bridgmohan is slated for the saddle aboard Cozzetti and Jose Lezcano has the call for Finnegans Wake.
"Silver Max is in such good form and is such a nice horse, he's going to be difficult to beat," Romans said Aug. 14 of the 9-to-5 morning line favorite for the 1 1/4-mile event. "If he stubs his toe or something goes wrong in the race, then it wouldn't surprise me if one of these two were the ones to beat him."
Outside his own shedrow, the chief domestic threat to Silver Max is Summer Front , who is undefeated in five turf tries, including consecutive wins in the Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) and the $100,000 Duluth Stakes in New York.
"It's very exciting with this horse," said regular rider Ramon Dominguez following the Duluth. "Every race he has been relaxing even more and is very mature."
Christophe Clement trains Summer Front for Thomas Moore's Waterford Stable. Clement has won both the Arlington Million (gr. I)T and Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) but is still looking for his first Secretariat Stakes victory. Summer Front is the 5-to-2 second choice on the morning line to get the job done.
The international rivals in this year's Secretariat are His Highness the Aga Khan's Studs' Bayrir, who won the Prix Eugene Adam (Fr-II) last out in his native France, and Daddy Long Legs, fourth but beaten just two lengths in the Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) after finishing 20th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Christophe Lemaire will have the mount.
Aidan O'Brien trains and Colm O'Donoghue rides Daddy Long Legs for Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier, which is the same team that won last year's Secretariat with Irish Derby (IRE-I) winner and Arlington Million entrant Treasure Beach.
Either O'Brien or Romans would become the first trainer to win three editions of the Secretariat. O'Brien also won the race in 2000 with Ciro. Romans won in 2003 with Kitten's Joy and in 2010 with Paddy O'Prado.
Completing the Secretariat field is Jim Tafel's All Stormy under Rosemary Homeister Jr., and J. Paul Reddam's Handsome Mike , who will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
$500,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT, Race 8, 3:48 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 1/4 miles (Turf)
PP., Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds
1. Handsome Mike, M. Gutierrez, D F O'Neill, 15-1
2. Summer Front, R.A. Dominguez, C Clement, 5-2
3. Cozzetti, S. Bridgmohan, D Romans, 10-1
4. Finnegans Wake, J. Lezcano, D Romans, 6-1
5. All Stormy, R.B. Homeister, Jr., G Geier, 20-1
6. Daddy Long Legs, C. O'Donoghue, 6-1
7. Bayrir (FR), C.P. Lemaire, A de Royer-Dupre, 6-1
8. Silver Max, R. Albarado, D Romans, 9-5