Mondialiste continues to deliver his best when the son of Galileo races in North America.
Last seen in the U.S. finishing second to Tepin in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I), Mondialiste (IRE) would not be denied Aug. 13, emerging from a multi-horse stretch battle to score his biggest victory to date in the Arlington Million XXXIV Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington International Race Course.
After a slow opening quarter in :25.56, Take the Stand would take a clear lead into the stretch under Edgar Prado but the race was just getting started as near the quarter pole Mondialiste had launched a five-wide move from 3 1/2 lengths back and he continued to rally strongly in the stretch.
Favored World Approval, who had tracked in second throughout, continued to challenge in the stretch, and they were also joined by Arlington Handicap (gr. III) winner Kasaqui, who had to wait a bit near the quarter pole before firing between rivals in the stretch to finish second; and Deauville, who raced wide and briefly led near midstretch before fading to third.
Mondialiste, under first-time Arlington rider Daniel Tudhope, would emerge from the crowd to edge Kasaqui by a neck, completing 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.87 on firm turf.
Trained by David O'Meara, Geoff and Sandra Turnbull's Mondialiste won last year's Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-I) and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Mile. The top win in Europe for Mondialiste was a group III last year and he opened this season with a pair of off-the-board finishes in group I races, including an 11th-place finish to Tepin in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.
But Mondialiste showed improvement in his final start before the Arlington Million, finishing second in the Sky Bet York Stakes (Eng-II) July 23 when stretching out to about 1 1/4 miles. O'Meara said Mondialiste showed enough in that effort to stick with the plan of shipping to Arlington. Once back in North America, Mondialiste delivered another top effort.
"We stepped him up to a mile-and-a-quarter at York and he ran a really good race, and once we saw that he handled the trip okay, we had this race in the back of our mind," O'Meara said. "We thought we'd bring him over because he performed so well this side of the water last year."
With Saturday's win Mondialiste earns a return trip to the Breeders' Cup, as the Arlington Million is a Breeders' Cup Challenge Win and You're In race for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). O'Meara said he anticipated a Breeders' Cup return for Mondialiste.
"He seems to love it over here and he thrives over here," Tudhope said. "It's amazing for [David O'Meara and I, to get a "Win and You're In" to the Breeders' Cup Turf], even everyone back home in the yard, we all work hard and they deserve this just as much as we do. Hats off to everyone in the yard. It's an amazing feeling."
Robby Albarado, aboard Kasaqui, could only wonder "What if?" as the son of Lasting Approval earned his first grade I placing.
"I liked my trip until the three-eighths pole," Albarado said. "I needed to get out a jump and a half earlier and I would have won."
Mondialiste returned $10.80 to win, $6.40 to place, and $4.80 to show. Kasaqui paid $13.20 to place and $9.40 to show while Deauville returned $7 to show.
Bred in Ireland by Wertheimer & Frere, Mondialiste is out of two-time group I winner and European highweight Occupandiste, by Kaldoun. Occupandiste also has produced group II winner Impressionnante, group III winner Only Answer, and stakes winner Planetaire.