At this point in his career, nothing The Tin Man does would be a surprise. But if the gutsy 9-year-old gelding can pull off another victory in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) Aug. 11, it might be the greatest accomplishment of his championship career.
The Tin Man will attempt to become the first horse to win the Arlington Million in successive years and the second horse to take the prestigious race twice (John Henry won in 1981 and 1984).
The son of Affirmed was installed Aug. 8 as the 3-1 second choice for the 1 1/4-mile route on Arlington Park’s turf. After Market, winner of three straight graded stakes, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
Trained by Richard Mandella, The Tin Man seems to be getting better with age, having won six of his last eight efforts, all but one in stakes competition. Although having raced only twice this year, the Kentucky-bred is still at the top of his game, winning the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (gr. IT) May 28 and coming within a head of capturing the American Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) for the third time July 30, both at Hollywood Park.
Owned and bred by Aury and Ralph Todd, The Tin Man, who won The Million by a length last year, has earned nearly $3.5 million in his remarkable 29-start career. He had a serious injury at age 2, tendon surgery shortly thereafter, and another ankle injury in 2005. The wily veteran won his first stakes at age 5, but now has eight on his résumé. Victor Espinoza will be aboard in The Million.
Four-year-old After Market has earned quite a résumé himself, having won seven times in an 11-start career, including five stakes. Trained by John Shirreffs, the dark bay colt most recently took the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) by a length-and-a-half at Del Mar July 22. Alex Solis will ride.
The field of eight also includes the Todd Pletcher-trained Sunriver (9-2), who has hit the board in 10 of 13 tries. A third-place finisher in the 2006 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Sunriver has tried the turf just twice, both wins. The son of Saint Ballado most recently won the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont July 15.
Three European invaders, Doctor Dino (FR), Danak (IRE) and Pressing (IRE), give the race an international flavor.