ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – Under a perfectly-timed ride from Irad Ortiz, Jr., Convento Viejo’s homebred Robert Bruce became the first Chilean-bred to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $1,000,000 Arlington Million XXXVI Stakes at Arlington Park.
The Arlington Million is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Robert Bruce receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking from the next-to-last outside post under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Robert Bruce ducked out and bumped with the 9/5 favorite Oscar Performance before dropping back and watching from the rear. Meanwhile, Century Dream took advantage of his quick break and led relatively unpressured through initial splits of :23.66, :48.28, 1:12.96, and 1:37.96 for the opening mile. Beginning to circle slower foes in the far turn, Robert Bruce emerged onto the front stretch only 5 lengths off the lead and full of run. Forced to run six-wide if he wanted to catch the leader, Robert Bruce found his best footing and exploded in the final furlong. Securing command in the final 1/16, Robert Bruce beat fellow Chad Brown trainee Almanaar by a 1/2-length in a final time of 2:02.29 for the 1 1/4-mile turf showcase.
“The horse was doing so well, we were very positive, so thank God everything went perfect for us,” said Ortiz, Jr., who was also celebrating his 26th trip around the sun. “I put him in the clear on the stretch. On the backside, I didn’t want to fight with him, just wanted him to be happy on the backside, so when I turned to the backside and went (wide), I didn’t panic.”
Fading late, Century Dream drifted out slightly and impeded Catcho En Die before that pair crossed in third and fourth, respectively. However, following an objection for interference in the stretch, the order was reversed and Catcho En Die was awarded third-place honors. Money Multiplier, the third Brown entry, was overcome late after tracking Century Dream much of the race and crossed in fifth. Deauville, Twenty Four Seven, and Circus Couture were the last three to cross the finish line.
There was a tense moment immediately following the conclusion of the race when Oscar Performance, who had faded late in the stretch, was pulled up before crossing the finish line. The winning rider’s brother, Jose, was aboard and felt his steed take a bad step, so he pulled up as a precaution. Following a post-race examination back at the barn, though, trainer Brian Lynch reported that Oscar Performance was not showing any signs of injury or distress.
Divisidero was cross-entered here, but his connections opted to instead run him in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, where he finished third. Spring Quality was a day-of scratch after not shipping in well from his training base.
Robert Bruce’s win was his second in three American starts and improved his overall record to 9-8-0-0, with his lone loss coming last out in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes. With lifetime earnings now equaling $942,457, the 4-year-old son of Fast Company will likely race once more before taking on the world’s best in November.
“He’s got an unbelievable kick, but so did the losing horse,” Brown said. “They both ran tremendous.”
Robert Bruce returned $7.20 to win, $3.80 to place, and $3.20 to show. Almanaar brought back $4.80 to place and $3.80 to show, while Catcho En Die paid $9.80 to show.