ARLINGTON HEIGHTS--A case could be made that the buzz race of the Arlington International Festival of Racing was the G1 Secretariat Stakes with a purse of a half-million dollars. Conversation focused on SILVER MAX, who had barnstormed his way to five consecutive stakes wins at five different venues.
And in the early stages of the race, the race looked to play to script: SILVER MAX going to the lead as he had so many times before. The timer read :24.65, :48.94, 1:13.25. But SILVER MAX faced a new issue: pace pressure. DADDY LONG LEGS applied it on the second turn, and the script started to turn.
SUMMER FRONT got a brief lead at the top of the lane. SILVER MAX wasn't on the lead.
And at the end of the race, the talk was on the race's victor, BAYRIR. He broke slowly in the opening stages of the ten furlong turf test for three-year-olds, he made a nice inside-out move at the top of the stretch and won the Secretariat by a length and a quarter with Christophe Lemaire riding for trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre. FINNEGAN'S WAKE, another member of the Dale Romans three-pack, closed from last to get second. Third place went to SUMMER FRONT, up closer to the pace this afternoon. 2-1 favorite SILVER MAX checked in fourth.
BAYRIR winning the G1 Secretariat. Photo from Four Footed Photos.
BAYRIR, a three-year-old French bred by Medicean, covered the 1 1/4 miles on "good" turf in 2:02.92. Punters made him the 3-1 third choice in the wagering, and he rewarded winners with an $8.40 payoff.
Before the race, the connections had the option of a race at Deauville in France or to suburban Chicago based on BAYRIR's performance in a prior ten furlong race. After the race, winning rider Christophe Lemaire reflected on the twists and turns of the Secretariat:
"It wasn’t the plan (to be far back early) but the race started out very quickly. I let my horse get into the race. On the backstretch, he was racing very well and he took the bit on his own around the last corner. When I put him out he reacted very well. He’s a very clever horse. He’s a very classy horse.”
The connections plan a race in France before returning to America for the Breeders' Cup Turf in November for their now G1 winning sophomore.
Two dollar 7-4 exactas with BAYRIR and FINNEGAN'S WAKE returned $55.60. Fifty cent trifectas including SUMMER FRONT yielded $50.70 and Dime superfectas adding in SILVER MAX rewarded winners $104.79.