A vastly improved Denon, runaway winner of the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) on Belmont Stakes Day, and Moon Ballad, winner of the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) earlier this spring, head a group of 109 Thoroughbreds nominated to this summer's Arlington Million (gr. IT) at Arlington Park.
As the signature event of Chicago's Thoroughbred season, the Million, which annually attracts the top turf specialists throughout the world, will celebrate its 21st renewal on Aug. 16 when contested over Arlington's world-renowned grass course at the classic 1 1/4-mile distance.
Denon, owned by Edmund A. Gann & Flaxman Holdings, Ltd., underlined his improving form June 7 by coming from well back to tally by three lengths in the grassy 10-furlong Manhattan.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, conditioner of both Denon and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Empire Maker, has won two of the last three Arlington Millions. He took last year's renewal with Beat Hollow and the 2000 edition with Chester House. Like Empire Maker, both Million winners were owned by Juddmonte Farm.
Also slated for the grass course Aug. 16 as part of Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing will be the only other two grade I races offered in Illinois, the $700,000 Beverly D. for fillies and mares and the $400,000 Secretariat, for 3-year-old turf specialists of world-class caliber.
Dubai World Cup hero Moon Ballad, owned by Godolphin, is one of several prominent foreign-based Million nominees and is scheduled to run on the grass in the Prince of Wales Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot June 18. Should the Irish-bred win that event, he would equal the feat of Godolphin's Dubai Millennium, who accomplished the World Cup/Prince of Wales double in 2000.
Another European-based nominee to the 2003 Arlington Million is Mrs. John Magnier's Hawk Wing, the Aidan O'Brien-trained 11-length victor in the Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I) at Newbury May 17. Hawk Wing is scheduled to run in the Group I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot June 17.
Godolphin's Dubai Destination, another European-based Million nominee headed for the Queen Anne, beat the highly regarded Rock of Gibraltar two years ago in the Champagne Stakes (Eng-II) at Doncaster. Rock of Gibraltar, owned by Sir Alex Ferguson & Mrs. John Magnier, finished second in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Arlington last October.
Team Valor, WinStar Farm & Sunmark Partner's Ipi Tombe, a Zimbabwe-bred mare who was a champion in South Africa and defeated male rivals in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) at Nad al Sheba on World Cup Day March 29, is nominated to the Million as well as the Beverly D. She would join Allen E. Paulson's Estrapade as the only female Arlington Million winner if she were to capture the 2003 renewal.
Nominees based in the United States include 3rd Turn Stables LLC's Honor in War, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. Also from the U.S. is Juddmonte Farms' Requete, the runner-up in the Woodford Reserve and in the Manhattan Handicap, and Juddmonte's Chiselling, winner of the 2002 Secretariat. Both are under the tutelage of Frankel.
Should Chiselling win the 2003 Arlington Million, he would become the second horse to complete the Secretariat/Million double in successive seasons. Michael Tabor's Marlin won the 1996 Secretariat and followed up with a victory in the 1997 Arlington Million.