Archipenko Should Be Tough in 'Million'

Archipenko Should Be Tough in 'Million'
Photo: Jeffrey Snyder
Einstein is tops among the American-based contenders for the Arlington Million.
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Archipenko, who has won stakes events in four different countries in the past 15 months, has been installed as the 2-1 favorite and is one of three formidable European invaders vying for top honors in the 26th running of the Arlington Million (gr. IT) Aug. 9.

Among the top American-based contenders is Einstein, this year's Gulfstream Park Turf and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (both gr. IT) winner who has also finished second to both Curlin and Kip Deville this year. Another formidable American threat is 5-year-old Stream Cat, who enters off a convincing victory in the July 12 Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) and was fourth, but only a length back in last year’s Million.

The 1 1/4-mile turf event, the highlight of Arlington Park’s International Festival of Racing, drew a field eight. Live television coverage, which will also include the $750,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT) and $400,000 Secretariat (gr. IT), begins at 4:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN.

A 4-year-old Kingmambo colt, Archipenko struggled during the second half of his sophomore campaign, but has been a world-beater, literally, in 2008. He will be seeking a stakes win on his fourth different continent this year. Previously owned by Michael Tabor and John Magnier, and trained by Aidan O’Brien, Archipenko was bought privately by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Dr. A. H. Parker earlier this year and transferred to the barn on Michael de Kock.

Archipenko, bred in Kentucky by Eagle Holdings, began his stakes bonanza by winning the Commercial Bank of Dubai Al Fahidi Fort (UAE-II) by two lengths in February in Dubai. Five weeks later on World Cup Day he finished third, beaten only a half-length in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), but has reeled off two consecutive stakes wins since then.

He took the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-I) in Hong Kong April 27, and after a short layoff, scored by three-quarters of a length in the July 12 Plymouth Gin Summer Mile (Eng-I) at Ascot. As a 3-year-old, Archipenko won a group II stakes in Ireland.

The Internationally renowned de Kock, who brought Irridescence to Arlington last summer to finish second in the 2007 Beverly D., will use fellow South African Kevin Shea as his rider. Archipenko, an earner of $1,949,145 from 13 starts, will break from post one.

Although Tabor, Mangier and O’Brien do not have Archipenko anymore, they will saddle a tough customer in the Million. English-bred Mount Nelson, a 4-year-old Rock of Gibraltar colt, enters off a nose victory in the prestigious Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) July 5 at Sandown Park. It was his second group I score, but first victory since October of 2006.

O’Brien, who has an unprecedented 17 group I victories already in 2008, won the Arlington Million in 2005 with Powerscourt. Johnny Murtagh will make the trip across the Atlantic for the mount.

The third European-based entry is Spirit One. The French-bred son of Anabaa Blue won the Prix Exbury (Fr-III) at Saint Cloud four starts ago. He was runner-up in his most recent effort June 14, another group III event in France.

Midnight Cry Stable’s Einstein enters off two consecutive runner-up performances for trainer Helen Pitts--the June 14 Stephen Foster (gr. I) when he lost to Curlin on dirt, and the July 4 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Churchill Downs turf. Thorn Song defeated the 6-year-old son of Spend a Buck by a length in the latter. A four-time graded stakes winner and earner of more than $1.3 million, Einstein has never raced at Arlington or tried 10 furlongs.

Fab Oak Stables and partners’ Stream Cat was rank in the early part of last year’s Million, but was full of run in the stretch before falling just short. The 5-year-old son of Black Minnaloushe has started just three times since then. The impressive 3 3/4-length Arlington Handicap win was his first start in more than eight months. Trainer Rusty Arnold, having the best Arlington meet of his career, gives a leg up to Julien Leparoux.

Another entry to consider is Gary Tanaka’s Sudan, an Irish-bred 5-year-old son of Peintre Celebre. Sudan raced in France, Sweden and Italy before shipping to the states and into the barn of Bobby Frankel this year. He has won once in four tries in the U.S., that coming May 31 in the Golden Gate Fields Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT). Most recently, Sudan was fourth in the 1 3/8-mile Man o’ War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont, losing by 3 1/4 lengths after leading into the stretch.

The rest of the Million field includes S J Stables’ Cloudy’s Knight, winner of Woodbine’s Canadian International (Can-I) last fall, and Chrysalis Stable’s Silverfoot, the winner of Arlington’s Stars and Stripes Handicap (gr. IIIT)  July 4.

The Arlington Million is featured on this week's "That Handicapping Show".

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