James Scatuorchio's English Channel and Juddmonte Farms Inc.'s Cacique, never more than a half-length apart in three previous meetings, renew their rivalry in Saturday's 24th Arlington Million (gr. IT).
They will be challenged by a large European-based contingent headed by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Mrs. Harry McCalmont's Ace and Winterbeck Manor Stud's Phoenix Reach. The 1 1/4-mile turf event attracted 11 entrants.
The Todd Pletcher-trained English Channel, second in last year's Secretariat (gr. IT) at 3, is enjoying a banner 2006. He won the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) at Monmouth July 8 when Cacique finished second, and prior to that, suffered his only loss in four starts this season when the Bobby Frankel-conditioned Cacique won the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont June 10. English Channel has also won the Turf Classic (gr. IT) over Cacique at Churchill Downs this year.
Ace was runner-up in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Belmont Park last October, and Phoenix Reach has won three group or grade I races in three different years.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien named Garrett Gomez on Ace to replace regular rider Kieren Fallon, who is currently on suspension in England and was turned down in his bid to be allowed to ride Saturday by Illinois racing officials.
The leading quartet must face seven other worthy challengers in Saturday's Arlington Million XXIV. Among them: Bushwood Racing Partners' Better Talk Now, who won the 2004 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park, last summer's United Nations, and was fourth in last summer's Arlington Million.
A West Coast-based entrant for Saturday's renewal is Aury and Ralph Todd's The Tin Man, an 8-year-old who won the American Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park July 2 after first winning that race four years earlier. The Tin Man ran sixth in the 2003 Arlington Million.
Gestut Park Wiedingen's Soldier Hollow and Gary Tanaka's Touch of Land bring strong European credentials. The former won the Premio Roma (Ity-I) in Italy last November and the latter was the hero of the Grand Prix de Vichy (Fr-III) in France at last asking July 19. Touch of Land is a veteran of two previous Arlington Millions, finishing fifth last year despite a troubled trip.Arlington Million (gr. IT, Race 9, 4:42 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Major Rhythm (KY), Earlie Fires
2. The Tin Man (KY), Victor Espinoza
3. Ace (IRE), Garrett Gomez
4. Touch of Land (FR), Christophe P. Lemaire
5. Soldier Hollow (GB), Rene R. Douglas
6. Phoenix Reach (IRE), Martin J. Dwyer
7. Cosmonaut (KY), Julien R. Leparoux
8. Better Talk Now (KY), Ramon A. Dominguez
9. Go Deputy (KY), John R. Velazquez
10. Cacique (IRE), Edgar S. Prado
11. English Channel (KY), John R. VelazquezEach entry assigned 126 pounds.