At a time of year when many top-level grass horses are laying low, Arklow is revving up. Winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park in October, the 5-year-old son of Arch breezed a half-mile Dec. 17 over a fast track at Churchill Downs in :50 3/5 The workout was his first since finishing eighth in the Nov. 2 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) at Santa Anita Park.
The Brad Cox trainee is under consideration for a number of races by owners Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and Peter Coneway—ranging from the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1T) Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park, to the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Stakes (G3T) at Sam Houston Race Park Jan. 26, and even to foreign races next year in the Middle East.
Though the purse and prestige of the Pegasus World Cup Turf are enticing, it is over a trip shorter than Arklow's best at 1 3/16 miles. All but one of Arklow's seven starts in 2019 came at 1 3/8 miles or beyond, including the 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch.
"We wish the Pegasus Turf was a little longer— of course we wish most every race was a little longer—so that's not a surprise," Jerry Crawford, president of Donegal Racing, said of his stayer.
Crawford and his partners are excited for what 2020 may have in store for the multiple graded stakes winner and earner of more than $1.8 million. Though unplaced behind Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders' Cup Turf, Arklow was beaten just 2 3/4 lengths with a wide trip. According to the data-tracking company Trakus, he raced in excess of 100 feet more than runner-up United and third-place Anthony Van Dyck—two of the horses that saved ground for much of the race.
Video: Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T)
Per Crawford, Arklow earned the best Thorograph and Ragozin Sheets figure of any horse in the Turf. Those speed-figure companies take into account ground loss, meaning the winner is not always the highest rated.
"It's pretty astonishing. I've never seen anything like it," Crawford said.
Bred in Kentucky by John and Frank Penn, Arklow is out of the Empire Maker mare Unbridled Empire, who also produced grade 2 winner Maraud. Donegal bought him for $160,000 from Penn Sales' consignment to the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Arklow's stakes victories include the 2017 American Turf Stakes Presented by Ram Trucks (G2) at 3 and the 2018 Kentucky Downs Preview Calumet Farm Turf Cup Stakes and the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes (G3T) at 4.
Also working Tuesday at Churchill were Falls City Handicap (G2) winner Mylady Curlin and River City Handicap (G3T) victor Mr. Misunderstood. The former breezed a half-mile in :50 4/5 leading up to $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) at Sam Houston Jan. 26, while the latter went the same distance in :49 in preparation for the $125,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Jan. 18.