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2017 Arlington Million Day Recap

arcmillion1002On a clear, sunny Saturday at Arlington, two Breeders' Cup bids were on the line.  Though the mid-seventies temperature was moderate enough to be surreal at this time of the year, the results were not: two Breeders' Cup bids went to horses in high-flying turf trainer Chad Brown's barn.

In the Beverly D, a Win and You're In for the Filly and Mare Turf, Brown sent out three -- and it was DACITA who found a solid rally and held to the wire.  That was familiar territory for Brown, who has now won the last three renditions of the Beverly D., and four overall.  About forty-five minutes later Brown won his second Arlington Million, as BEACH PATROL held off a scrum of horses to take the Arlington Million.

Arlington Million: BEACH PATROL loves Chicago

At this time last year, BEACH PATROL outslugged LONG ISLAND SOUND to win the Secretariat Stakes (G1), his first triumph at the Grade 1 level.  Since then, he had been holding his own against the top echelon of American turf horses, but had not been able to get back in the winners' circle again.  Perhaps Chicago is just his kind of town: this year, BEACH PATROL ($11.80) returned to his winning ways, becoming the third horse after Awad, Marlin, and Kicken Kris to win both the Secretariat and the Arlington Million during the course of their careers.

Illinois-bred OAK BROOK, winner of the Black Tie Affair Handicap over the course this summer, took the early initiative on the front end.  BEACH PATROL, despite being posted out in the nine gate, edged forward under jockey Joel Rosario to prompt just to rail-drawn OAK BROOK's outside the first time down the stretch.  Into the backstretch, BEACH PATROL turned down the pressure on the leader just a little bit, but remained within a length of the Land of Lincoln longshot.  Into the far turn, BEACH PATROL bore down again.  OAK BROOK tried gamely, but BEACH PATROL was on even terms once again approaching the three sixteenths pole, and was moving better.

At that point, a new threat became pressing.  OAK BROOK, leading inside for so long, opened up a hole on the rail approaching the turn for home.  DEAUVILLE, this year's 9/5 Arlington Million favourite and last year's third-place finisher, slipped through.  At the furlong pole, DEAUVILLE had his head in front.  But, BEACH PATROL refused to let that stand.  He came back on DEAUVILLE, hit the lead near the sixteenth pole, and held safe from late-running 73/1 shot FANCIFUL ANGEL to his outside to win by half a length, stopping the clock in 2:02.39 for the mile and a quarter on firm turf.  It was another neck back to DEAUVILLE, who held third by a head over 80/1 shot ENTERPRISING, who was bulling through on the rail late.  ASCEND, OAK BROOK, DIVISIDERO, OSCAR NOMINATED, KASAQUI, MEKHTAAL, GHOST HUNTER, and THE PIZZA MAN completed the order of finish.  SCOTTISH was a stakes scratch after coming out of his Thursday morning exercise with an injury to his left front.

BEACH PATROL holds off FANCIFUL ANGEL to win the 2017 Arlington Million.

BEACH PATROL holds off the grey FANCIFUL ANGEL to win the 2017 Arlington Million.

BEACH PATROL, by Lemon Drop Kid out of the Quiet American mare Bashful Bertie, was bred in Kentucky by Nancy C. Shuford.   The four-year-old was the second Grade 1 winner today for co-owner Sheep Pond Partners, who also has a share in DACITA; James Covello and Head of Plains Partners, LLC also have shares in the dark bay or brown colt.  The victory was his fourth in 15 career starts, and the $564,000 brought his career earnings over the million-dollar point, to $1,456,945.  Between his victories in the Secretariat last year and the Arlington Million this year, over half of his purse winnings have now come at Arlington Park.

That prominent early position despite the wide post draw worked out well for Beach Patrol.  As commented rider Joel Rosario after the race, "They told me I had to get him out of the gate and get into a good position and let him find himself. It took a little bit of time, but he really found his way after."  Owner Sol Kumin, principal of Sheep Pond Partners and also part of Head of Plains Partners, suggested that his eyes had been on the Arlington Million ever since he won the Secretariat a year back.  "This was the spot and the race we’ve been waiting for a year. He loves it here."

Beverly D. Stakes: DACITA gets the right trip

This year's Beverly D. Stakes looked like an evenly matched rendition on paper, and that bore out on the track.  Ten horses saw the starter; all ten crossed the wire within five lengths of each other.  The one who crossed the wire first, half a length clear, was one of three from the Chad Brown barn, and the only one of that trio who already had top-level victories under her girth: DACITA ($15.80).

As the race shape emerged the first time down the stretch, ZIPESSA took the lead, with RAIN GODDESS and Illinois-bred PRADO'S SWEET RIDE trakcing in the next flight.  Through those early stages, DACITA was content to settle near the rear of the pack, saving ground inside.  Down the backside, ZIPESSA maintaned the lead, though HAWKSMOOR became a bit more prominent to stalk on the outside.  With about four and a half furlongs to go, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. angled DACITA off the rail and swung her three wide for room.  She turned for home on the far outside in striking range, one of a swarm of horses bearing down on ZIPESSA, HAWKSMOOR, and the rest.  Favoured DONA BRUJA was the first to get her head in front of that pair, but come the sixteenth pole, she found herself outkicked by DACITA.  GRAND JETE, one of DACITA's stablemates, had been boxed in on the rail.  She finally found room near the furlong marker, but it was too late.  DACITA hit the wire in 1:55.49 for a mile and three sixteenths on firm turf, half a length in front, with DONA BRUJA and GRAND JETE dead-heating for second.  Their third stablemate from the Brown barn, RAINHA DA BATERIA, flew home on the far outside for fourth, another length and a quarter back.  KITTEN'S ROAR, SARANDIA, HAWKSMOOR, RAIN GODDESS, ZIPESSA, and PRADO's SWEET RIDE completed the order of finish.

Happiness in the winners' circle after DACITA wins the Beverly D.

Happiness in the winners' circle after DACITA wins the Beverly D.

DACITA is a six-year-old chestnut mare by Scat Daddy out of the Seeker's Reward mare Daja.  Bred in Chile by Haras Paso Nevado, she races in the names of Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds.  The race was her tenth win overall in nineteen career starts, her second American Grade 1 triumph, and her fifth at the top level anywhere in the world.  She won the Diana (G1) in a thriller last year at Saratoga, and is also a three-time Group 1 winner in Chile.  Already a millionaire before arriving in Chicago, the $345,600 winner's share of the purse brought DACITA's earnings up to $1,398,369.

The Beverly D. was such a well-matched race that trips meant everything.  Stated DACITA's rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. after the race, "I got a perfect trip.  I got the one hole and broke out of there and got close I didn’t want to be too far. I saved all the ground and she was there for me."

Secretariat Stakes: Another award for OSCAR PERFORMANCE

OSCAR PERFORMANCE sails across the wire to win the 2017 Secretariat Stakes.

OSCAR PERFORMANCE sails across the wire to win the 2017 Secretariat Stakes.

The three-year-old dirt division remains a muddled picture leading into its summer showcase, the Travers.  However, after extending his win streak to three in a row in the Secretariat Stakes (G1), OSCAR PERFORMANCE ($5.00) can stake a claim as a clear leader in the sophomore grass division.  The Brian Lynch trainee struggled through two starts earlier in the year, but came to Chicago off of wins in the Pennine Ridge (G3) and the Belmont Derby (G1).

Sent off as the public's choice at 3/2. OSCAR PERFORMANCE and jockey Jose Ortiz settled to track the pace behind the leader, American Derby (G3) winner SONIC BOOM.  OSCAR PERFORMANCE confronted him to his outside into the far turn.  Though game, SONIC BOOM gave in near the pole, and OSCAR PERFORMANCE pulled clear to a two and a quarter length victory, stopping the clock in 2:01.79 for a mile and a quarter on firm turf.  Up for second was Aiden O'Brien shipper TAJ MAHAL, who took a while to get wound up but angled out and kicked on well in the final furlong.  AFANDEM, midpack throughout, crossed the wire another length and a half back.  SONIC BOOM, GORGEOUS KITTEN, and PERMIAN completed the order of finish.

Tragically, just past the wire, PERMIAN suffered an injury to his left front leg and lost rider William Buick.  PERMIAN was humanely euthanized.  Rider William Buick was taken to the hospital, and found to have suffered a fractured vertebra per Marcus Hersh of the Daily Racing Form.

OSCAR PERFORMANCE is a three-year-old bay ridgling by Kitten's Joy out of the Theatrical mare Devine Actress.  Bred in Kentucky by Mrs. Jerry Amerman and owned by Amerman Racing, LLC, OSCAR PERFORMANCE won for the sixth time in his nine-race career, a figure which includes three Grade 1 races.  The $240,000 winner's share of the Secretariat Stakes purse brought his career earnings to $1,737,632.

Jose Ortiz, OSCAR PERFORMANCE's regular rider, travelled to Chicago to ride again today.  "He was sitting very comfortably in second," remarked Ortiz after the race, "and when I asked him to go he ran very well. I love that Brian [Lynch] gave me the opportunity on this horse."

American St. Leger: POSTULATION Returns Edward Graham to the Arlington winners' circle

Postulation.  Noun.  The act of assuming something as true.

After today's American St. Leger, no one can be blamed for postulating that any horse trainer Edward Graham sends to Arlington off a win in the Cape Henlopen Stakes to the International Festival of Racing has a live chance.  After all, he took that same less-travelled road with 2014 Arlington Million winner Hardest Core.  This year, he won the mile and a half Cape Henlopen with POSTULATION ($12.40), who followed that up with a comfortable score in the American St. Leger (G3).

CREWMAN, winner of the Hanshin Cup (G3) at Arlington earlier this year, sent to the early lead.  APPLICATOR chased closest through the early stages, as POSTULATION settled cozily along the rail in third.  There he stayed for the first lap around the track.  As the field entered the backstretch for the second time, POSTULATION was inching up on that leader.  At that point, it was APPLICATOR who made his move, descending on CREWMAN from his outside.  CREWMAN gave in soon after being headed; POSTULATION let that foe fade inside him, and stalked off APPLICATOR.  He soon made his move for the lead; by the time the field hit the far turn, jockey Jorge Vargas, Jr. had slipped POSTULATION through on the rail and struck the front, as APPLICATOR packed it in.

Favoured KEYSTONEFORVICTORY, near the rear early, had advanced to a stalking spot by that point; his stablemate TAGHLEEB had made a similar advance, and settled to track in the next flight.  They couldn't catch POSTULATION, who opened up a comfortable lead into the stretch and crossed the wire in 2:49.45 for the one and eleven sixteenths miles on firm turf, two and a quarter lengths clear of TAGHLEEB.  KEYSTONEFORVICTORY flattened to third, another length and a half back.  TOBIAS, BULLARDS ALLEY, ALPHA WARRIOR, APPLICATOR, and CREWMAN completed the order of finish.

POSTULATION proves his stamina in the American St. Leger.

POSTULATION proves his stamina in the American St. Leger.

POSTULATION is a five-year-old bay gelding by Harlan's Holiday out of the Dansili mare Supposition.  Bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms, Inc., he now bears the silks of Runnymede Racing, LLC.  His victory in the American St. Leger was his fifth in sixteen career starts, his third in stakes company, and his first at the graded level.  The $147,000 winners' share of the purse brought his career earnings to $293,769.

Though POSTULATION had never been longer than a mile and a half before today, trainer Edward Graham had faith in his ability to stay the trip.  He noted after the race, "When you watch his race at Delaware Park Alex said he couldn’t even pull him up and that the outrider had to pull him up. I didn’t think there was a question and I thought he would get it done."

However, don't expect Graham to agree that the Cape Henlopen to Arlington angle is foolproof.  When asked about POSTULATION in light of Hardest Core's Million victory three years ago, he responded, "I don’t know, I guess this is just luck here."

Outiside of the Festival, Miguel Mena's longshots have their day

In addition to the four Festival stakes, Saturday's card at Arlington featured a pair of stakes for sophomores: the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes for fillies on the turf, and the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes for open sophomores on the polytrack.  Horses dismissed by the public won both races -- and it was jockey Miguel Mena who piloted them both home.

In the Pucker Up, the day's final race, FAULT ($26.40) proved an astute find for trainer Michelle Lovell and owner Agave Racing Stable.  They claimed the Kentucky-bred daughter of Blame for $50,000 out of a race at Churchill Downs in May.  FAULT was second in her first three starts for her new connections; most recently among those was a second-place finish, beaten just a neck, in the Ta Wee Stakes at Indiana Grand.  That was enough to try her in graded stake company for the first time, and the gamble paid off.  Out of the gate sharply, she then bided her time in the middle of the pack of twelve fillies, on the rail behind the early zip of ROYALTY PRINCESS and KATINKA.  She saved ground through both of the turns, angled out under rider Miguel Mena into the stretch, and outkicked JOURNEY HOME in the final sixteenth to win by a neck in 1:50.08 for the mile and an eighth on firm turf.  The win was FAULT's third in nine career starts, and the $55,800 winner's share of the purse brought her career earnings to $142,595.  The victory was also the first graded stakes triumph for trainer Michelle Lovell.

Earlier in the day, HARMAC ($56.40) rallied for a shocker in the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes, winning as the longest shot in a field of eight.  Trained by Grant Forster for owner-breeder Elizabeth Southam, the gelded son of Langfuhr was coming off an allowance win at Ellis, and making his first start in stakes company. Breaking from the inside after both horses inside of him scratched, HARMAC tracked the pace along the rail, content to let Illinois-bred SMOKE 'N' GLOAT and favoured UNCONTESTED fight on the lead.  HARMAC turned for home at the back of a tightly bunched main pack, still running inside and full of horse.  Rider Miguel Mena angled him out approaching the three-sixteenths pole, found his best stride in the final furlong, and kicked past the duel-softened SMOKE 'N' GLOAT.  HARMAC crossed the wire a length and three quarters in front, stopping the clock in 1:36.10 for the one-turn polytrack mile.  The victory was HARMAC's third in six career tries, and the purse winnings of $43,650 almost doubled his career tally, to $88,098.  Trainer Grant Forster has not confirmed a next spot for his charge, but mentioned both the Smarty Jones at Parx and the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington as options.

All photography courtesy of Four Footed Fotos.

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