(Edited from track report)
Four European-based invaders will face five American-based Thoroughbreds in the 20th running of the Arlington Million (gr. I) at Arlington Park on Saturday.Together, that group of nine was pre-entered for the signature race of the Arlington Park season. Under the rules of pre-entry for the Million, no additional horses will be considered, although post position draws for the showcase event will not take place until next Wednesday.Juddmonte Farms Inc.'s Beat Hollow, generally considered to be the top turf horse in training in the United States, will head the Arlington Million field. The British bred, a 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells, has campaigned entirely in the United States this year. Out of a Dancing Brave mare, the homebred earned his reputation by winning the Woodford Reserve (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day and following that score in with one the Manhattan Handicap (gr. I) on Belmont Stakes Day. Beat Hollow is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. As a team, the Juddmonte-Frankel-Bailey combination captured the 2000 Arlington Million with Chester House. Sure to receive strong consideration from bettors is Gary A. Tanaka's Sarafan, who has defeated Beat Hollow twice this season. In their last meeting July 28 in Del Mar's Eddie Read Handicap (gr. I), Sarafan bested Beat Hollow by a length and a quarter when his rival was trapped along the rail. But last March 2 in New Orleans in the Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. II) at The Fairgrounds, Sarafan was up to collar Beat Hollow by a neck with a bold late rush.Hall of Fame conditioner Neil Drysdale, who has saddled five Arlington Million starters but has yet to reach the winner's circle, trains Sarafan. Corey Nakatani will ride Sarafan, a gelded son of Lear Fan out of a Caro mare, in the Million.Among the leading European invaders is Frau Carde Ostermann-Richter's Paolini. The German-bred is trained by Andreas Wohler and will be ridden by Austrian jockey Andreas Suborics. Together that tandem captured the 2001 Arlington Million with the German-bred Silvano, owned by Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof. Paolini's best race this year came May 11 in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup, where he was second by two lengths to multiple stakes winner Grandera.The Arlington Million is the fifth leg of the World Series Racing Championship (WSRC) - a 14-race series contested on four continents. This year, the series will return to Arlington Park October 26 for the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), both part of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Another European invader for the Arlington Million is Roldvale Ltd.'s Freefourinternet, who finished fifth behind Grandera last time in the Group I Prince of Wales June 19 during the Royal Ascot meeting. In the Prince of Wales, Freefourinternet had traffic problems a quarter of mile from the wire. Previously, the Kentucky-bred son of Tabasco Cat had won the listed Huxley Stakes at Chester.Peter Willmott's Cheshire, a British-bred who has campaigned exclusively in France, won the Group III Grand Prix de Vichy at the Vichy course in his last trip to the post July 24. Trainer John Hammond, who saddled Dear Doctor to win the 1992 Arlington Million, is the conditioner of Cheshire, who will be ridden by Japanese riding sensation Yutaka Take.Perhaps the most interesting European invader is the British-bred Ulundi, owned by David Heath. Several of the 11 wins in Ulundi's 27-race career have come over the hurdles, but the son of Rainbow Quest out of a Lyphard mare appears equally accomplished on the flat. In his most recent effort on June 21 during the Royal Ascot meeting, Ulundi won the Wolferton Rated Handicap in his first start of the year while shouldering the top impost of 133 pounds. Paul Webber trains
and Richard Hughes has been engaged as the jockey for Ulundi.Arthur I. Appleton's Forbidden Apple, a Florida-bred son of Pleasant is another of the American representatives. The homebred 7-year-old was most recently third, beaten only a neck, in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga on July 26. Before that Forbidden Apple was second, by two lengths to Beat Hollow in the Manhattan Handicap June 8. French-born but American-based Christophe Clement is the trainer.Tanaka's Falcon Flight, although pre-entered Friday in the Arlington Million, awaits a final decision on his status by trainer Don Burke II. Falcon Flight won the Arlington Handicap (gr. III), the final local prep for the Arlington Million, in his last start July 27 on Million Preview Day. He also won the Stars and Stripes Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park last year. No winner of the Arlington Handicap or the Stars and Stripes has captured the Arlington Million to date. Should Falcon Flight go to the post Saturday, Arlington's leading rider and defending jockey champion Rene Douglas is scheduled to take the reins.Team Block's Mystery Giver is another who was pre-entered for the Arlington Million, although a final decision on his status has not been made. Mystery Giver, winner of the $90,450 Cardinal Handicap on Prairie State Festival Day June 22, suffered from an unfortunate trip in the Arlington Handicap last time and finished fifth, but was only beaten by 1 1/4 length. Mystery Giver is the local hope for this year's Arlington Million. He was bred by David and Patricia Block in Illinois, trained by their son Chris, and would probably be ridden by Robby Albarado, 1996 jockey champion at Arlington.