A competitive international field of 13 passed the entry box for Saturday’s 34th running of the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million as part of the International Festival of Racing at Arlington International Racecourse. The 1¼-miles race on the turf is one of three Grade I races on Saturday’s program and serves as a “Win and You’re In” race for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, ensuring Saturday’s victor a spot in the starting gate at the Breeders’ Cup.
Pace Scenario – Fast
Speed: #2 Dubai Sky, #6 Kasaqui, #7 Take the Stand, #13 Deauville
Stalkers: #4 Pumpkin Rumble, #8 Decorated Knight, #11 World Approval, #12 Tryster
Closers: #1 Danish Dynaformer, #3 Greengrassofyoming, #5 The Pizza Man, #9 Mondialiste, #10 Wake Forest
With a field of this size usually you can count on a hot pace, and there are a few in here that like to go to the front as well. It looks like it will set up for a closer in here although horses like World Approbal and Tryster should have tactical speed to sit off the pace if it’s hot.
Top Pick: #10 Wake Forest
Perhaps I’m a little stubborn with Wake Forest, but I believe he is better than his last race at Monmouth Park. His race in the Man ‘o War at Belmont Park was ultra impressive to me, and I think if the pace shapes up how I think it will he’s going to have a big shot to put in that type of effort in this spot. The jockey switch to Prat doesn’t bother me at all…in fact I really like it. Hopefully he can take back and tuck in behind horses and have plenty of pace to run at when the real running begins. With so many other strong betting optinos in this race the price should be great on him. I’m ready to take a swing.
Other Likely Winners: #9 Mondialiste, #11 World Approval, #7 Take a Stand
Mondialiste was very successful last year when shipping to North America for two races as he won Woodbine Mile and then finished second in the Breeders Cup Mile to Tepin. His price and running style make him a playable option. World Approval is probably the hottest turf horse in American aside from the super star Flintshire. However, the last time the face each other at the Fair Grounds Take a Stand was able to beat World Approval. Take a Stand comes into this one off a long layoff, but trainer Bill Mott might have him ready to fire a big one at big price here.
Exotic Plays: #8 Decorated Knight, #12 Tryster, #13 Deauville
Three international shippers that should run well here. Decorated Knight is the one I like best out of these three as his talents are pretty strong, and his price might be very square. Tryster is the morning line favorite in the race, but I actually prefer others to him in this spot. He can certainly win this one, but he has a lot of things working against him with this being his first start here in the Untied States. Deauville doesn’t have that same problem at Tryster as he picked up a win last time out in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby. Worried that this could be too much for the three year old today though.
Party Crashers: #5 The Pizza Man, #6 Kasaqui
What to make of The Pizza Man…last years Arlington Million champion has not looked like his old self at all this year. Can he turn it around here at the track he loves? It would make for a great story, but I don’t think it’s likely. Although, I couldn’t get myself to toss him out…and he should have pace to run into here. Kasaqui is another horse with local flavor as he’s coming off a Grade 3 victory over this track last time out. Perhaps he can pull off a home town upset.
Throw Outs: #1 Danish Dynaformer, #2 Dubai Sky, #3 Greengrassofyoming, #4 Pumpkin Rumble
It’s not a talent problem with this goup of four…it’s a class problem. The Million race came up super tough this year with a true international field, and these four just don’t look like they are ready for this type of competition.
Godolphin Racing’s Tryster (IRE) tops the field and brings considerable class to his first North American start. Last seen finishing fifth in the Group I Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the 5-year-old son of Shamardal earned a Group I win in early March in the Emirates Jebel Hatta at Meydan. In between those two races, the Charles Appleby trainee ran a competitive third in the Group I $6,000,000 DP World Dubai Turf on the Dubai World Cup card. Tryster will be ridden by William Buick from post 12.
America’s best hope in the Million may be represented by Live Oak Plantation’s recent Grade I United Nations Stakes winner World Approval. Trained by Mark Casse, the 4-year-old son of Northern Afleet captured multiple Grade III races over the course of a sophomore campaign that included a win in his only appearance at Arlington in last year’s Grade III American Derby. In recent efforts prior to his United Nations triumph, World Approval finished within striking range of well-regarded Grade I winners Flintshire and Divisidero. Florent Geroux, who won last year’s Million, will have the return call from post 11.
Built to Win Stable and Sheep Pond Partners’ Wake Forest (GER) returns for another attempt at winning Arlington’s marquee race after finishing sixth in last year’s renewal in what was his first North American start. Trained now by Chad Brown, the 6-year-old horse by Sir Percy notched his first Grade I win at Belmont Park in May when scoring in the Grade I Man o’ War Stakes before finishing third, beaten three lengths, behind World Approval in the United Nations. Flavien Prat will pick up the mount from post 10.
Midwest Thoroughbreds’ defending champion The Pizza Man became the first Illinois-bred to win the Million when serving up a popular victory in last year’s event, and this year he will look to become the race’s first back-to-back winner. Roger Brueggemann trains the 7-year-old English Channel gelding who has failed to hit the board in three tries this year, but exits an improved fourth-place effort when taking the worst of a thrilling four-way photo finish in the Grade III Stars and Stripes over the local lawn in July. Mike Smith, who piloted The Pizza Man to a win in last year’s Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup, will take the mount from post five.
Mondialiste (IRE), a 6-year-old son of champion sire Galileo who races for Geoff and Sandra Turnbull, will return to the United States for the first time since finishing second behind Eclipse Award champion Tepin in last year’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile. Prior to that effort, he was a winner in the Grade I Woodbine Mile, with those two efforts showing the David O’Meara trainee’s affinity for North American racing. Daniel Alexander Tudhope, who guided Mondialiste in last year’s Breeders’ Cup, will have the mount from post nine.
Wimborne Farm’s Kasaqui (ARG) will look to become the first Grade III Arlington Handicap winner to use Arlington’s local prep as a stepping stone to a win in the Million. Trained by Ignacio Correas, IV, the 6-year-old son of Lasting Approval is a multiple winner at the Million’s ten furlong distance in his native Argentina and has been a force against graded stakes company in his two most recent starts. Robby Albarado, who was aboard for the Arlington Handicap score, retains the mount from post six.
Lining up alongside Kasaqui will be another runner bred in Argentina, Earle I. Mack, Wachtel Stable and Brous Stable’s Take the Stand (ARG). Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, the 5-year-old horse by Not For Sale has not been seen since a winning effort in the Grade II Muniz Memorial Handicap in March at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and can be a pace factor under Edgar Prado from post seven.
Mrs. Fitri Hay, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Grade I Belmont Derby winner Deauville (IRE) will face his elders for the first time in his career, with trainer Aidan O’Brien opting to send the son of Galileo in the Million instead of against fellow 3-year-olds in the Grade I Secretariat earlier in the card. Seamie Heffernan will ride from the outside post 13.
Michael M. Hui’s Greengrassofyoming, a winner of last month’s Grade III Stars and Stripes over the local lawn, has been entered in the Million while passing on the Grade III American St. Leger, a race into which he had earned automatic entry by virtue of his win in the Stars and Stripes. Mike Maker trains the 6-year-old son of Quest whom he claimed for $62,500 two starts back. Shaun Bridgmohan has the return call from post three.
Charles Fipke’s Grade III Singspiel Stakes winner Danish Dynaformer (Patrick Husbands, rail) will contest the Million for trainer Roger Attfield and will line up inside of Three Chimneys Farm and Besilu Stables’ Bill Mott trainee Dubai Sky (Jose Lezcano, post two), who captured the Grade III Spiral Stakes in March of last year.
Saleh al Homaizi and Imad al Sagar’s Roger Charlton-trained Group III winner Decorated Knight (GB) (Jose Valdivia, Jr., post eight) and Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Gary Scherer-trained Listed stakes winner Pumpkin Rumble (Mitchell Murrill, post four) complete the Arlington Million field.