Million Favorite Sulamani Arrives at Arlington

(from Arlington reports)
Godolphin Racing Inc.'s Sulamani, the international equine star who is the projected favorite in Saturday's Arlington Million (gr. IT), completed a transatlantic journey at 3 a.m. Sunday by bedding down in Arlington Park's quarantine barn hours before first light.

"Door to door, the journey from Newmarket to Arlington took about 10 hours," said Tony Howart, head lad for the Godolphin entourage on this journey. "The horse traveled well. There were no problems. Everything went right every step of the way."

Godolphin, which purchased Sulamani following his runner-up finish in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomple (Fr-I) last October, is seeking its 100th grade or group I win with Sulamani in Saturday's Million. In his last start in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot July 26, he finished second while conceding 12 pounds to the winner.

"That's a lot of weight to give up to any horse, especially a champion," said Howart, speaking of the King George. "However, we felt our horse ran an excellent race. Everything went according to plan, and we think he's in good form coming into this race. He's a special horse with a lot of talent, a lot of class, and we think he has even more potential."

As a 3-year-old, Sulamani won the French Derby (Fr-I) at Chantilly last June before finishing second in the Arc. In March, he captured the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at Nad al Sheba.

"Obviously, we've gotten most of his training into him back home," said Howart. "All we have to do now is keep a nice shine on him. We expect Saeed bin Suroor (Godolphin trainer) to be here at the end of the week. He has a lot to do back home right now, with Dubai Destination in a race on Sunday and Moon Ballad set for a start the middle of next week."

The King George served as the third leg in the 2003 World Series of Racing Championship, and the Arlington Million will be the fourth leg in that series, which has now formed a partnership with Rolls Royce Motor Cars Ltd.

In other Million news, jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., a regular rider on the Southern California circuit known for his talent on the turf, has been named to ride Honor in War, winner of the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 26, the final local prep for Saturday's fixture.

"Jose has ridden horses for me in Kentucky and we've had a lot of success together," said Honor in War's trainer Paul McGee, speaking over the phone from Louisville Sunday morning. "More importantly, some of those winners were for Will Wolford, so naturally he was very pleased that we were able to get Valdivia."

Wolford is the primary owner of 3rd Turn Stables LLC, which campaigns Honor in War.

Valdivia, 28, a native of Lima, Peru, will replace David Flores astride Honor in War. Flores has been named to ride Sulamani.

Other known Arlington Million riding assignments include Gary Stevens on Storming Home, Pat Day aboard Perfect Drift, Mike Smith astride The Tin Man, Eddie Ahern assigned Beauchamp Pilot, Rene Douglas on Kaieteur, Kent Desormeaux astride Olden Times, Eduardo Pedroza up on Paolini, Michael Kinane on Tripat, and Christophe Soumillon aboard Vangelis.