Sweet Redemption for Powerscourt in Million

Sweet Redemption for Powerscourt in Million
Photo: AP/Jeff Roberson
Powerscourt wins (again)!
Powerscourt, disqualified after winning last year's Arlington Million (gr. IT), provided sweet redemption for his Ballydoyle connections Saturday with an emphatic victory in the American classic on a yielding Arlington Park turf course.

With a spirited Kieren Fallon replacing Jamie Spencer in the irons this year, the Irish-based Powerscourt waited for room in the stretch run, split horses and blasted past the odds-on favorite Kitten's Joy to win by three lengths with Fallon waving his stick wildly under the wire.

"He proved himself a good horse with back-to-back Arlington Millions. I don't think it's ever been done before but maybe it has," Fallon said.

The only official two-time winner of the race was John Henry, who captured the initial race in 1981 and then again in 1984.

The 9-10 choice Kitten's Joy, ridden by Edgar Prado barely held off a flying Fourty Niners Son and Corey Nakatani for second with Better Talk Now the third nose on the wire in the place photo. The final time was 2:03 1/5 for the 1 1/4-mile event.

But there was no disputing the victor this year. Trained by Aidan O'Brien for owner Mrs. John Magnier, Powerscourt was a controversial DQ in last year's Million, which he won by 1 1/2 lengths but was taken down and placed fourth for lugging inward in deep stretch. Given a second chance in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), the 5-year-old son of Sadler's Wells was victimized by a poorly timed ride from Spencer and finished third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Better Talk Now and one length behind Kitten's Joy.

Powerscourt, who raced with blinkers for the first time since a fifth-place finish in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) in March, had been winless in three starts this year. He ran second in the four-horse Scottish Derby (Eng-II) July 18 at Ayr in his most recent try.

Powerscourt sat mid-pack in the field of 10 while racing near the rail as the Irish-bred Whilly set the pace with a stalking Sweet Return tracking in relatively close fashion through a solid pace considering the conditions of :24 1/5, :48 2/5 and 1:12 4/5. Powerscourt had Kitten's Joy in front of him as they began to move up entering the turn. But Prado opted for a wide move under Kitten's Joy while Fallon kept Powerscourt tucked in while making up good ground on the leaders.

"This little horse deserved this win," Fallon said. "He was unlucky last year to be taken down. I think it was a great training performance by Mr. O'Brien. The horse was in great condition today and he was an impressive winner.

"They went very quick early on. I was able to get the position I wanted. I was hoping to just to be in behind the leaders turning for home. He did everything so easy for me today. When the splits came in the stretch, he went right through them. I was lucky enough to get the splits right through the middle"

Kitten's Joy, making his second start of the year, emerged with the lead in mid-stretch but the 2004 American turf champion was no match for the winner, who found room on the inside of Better Talk Now in the closing stages.

"I wish we could have had another race in him," Prado said of the runner-up. "He got a hold of the turf OK. He tried hard they just wore us down in the stretch."

The 4-year-old Dale Romans trainee was all out to hold off Fourty Niners Son, who was coming off a second-place finish behind Sweet Return in the Eddie Read (gr. IT) July 24. Better Talk Now, a late arrival for the Million after initially being set for the Sword Dancer (gr. IT) at Saratoga, turned in a creditable effort under John Velazquez.

"He was not very aggressive like he usually is," Velazquez said. "I don't know what it was but he was not his usual self. I got to the quarter pole and I thought I had every chance to win it, and he just kind of flattened out a bit."

The second choice in the field at 5-1, Powerscourt paid a generous $12.40, $4.60 and $3.40. Kitten's Joy returned $2.40 and $2.20. Fourty Niners Son was $5.40 to show.

The French-bred Touch of Land ran fifth, followed by Alost, Sweet Return, Good Reward, Cool Conductor and Whilly.

(Chart, Equibase)

Most Popular Stories