Looking Back at the 2018 Ride to the Million

scenics-ap-070718-002ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILLINOIS -- Though rain has beset so much of the summer at Arlington, the weather finally cooperated for Ride to the Million Day, a card that featured five turf races, including local preps for all three Grade 1 events that make up the International Festival of Racing on August 11.  The weather was temperate, the sky was clear, and the turf was firm for only the third day this meet.

Though five different trainers won the five stakes races, jockey Joe Bravo had a red-letter day.  He got things going when he wired the second race, a first-level allowance/$75,000 optional claiming race for three-year-olds, with Ignacio Correas trainee Cuestion de Tiempo.  Later Bravo struck again on the front end with another Correas charge, taking the American Derby (G3) from start to finish with Real Story.  He completed the hat trick in the Hatoof Stakes with a last-to-first score with Colonia.

Arlington Handicap: DIVISIDERO stays the trip

Much of the early chat going into the Arlington Handicap had been about Synchrony, the 1.1/1 favourite in the race.  Divisidero, despite being a two-time Grade 1 winner, lurked in the shadows.  The mile and three sixteenths of the Arlington Handicap looked longer than his best, and his one visit to Arlington resulted only in a seventh-place finish behind Beach Patrol in last year's Arlington Million.

By the end of the race, everyone at Arlington Park remembered the name Divisidero after he circled the field, held Revved Up at bay, and won the Arlington Handicap by half a length.

Roman Approval, second in this race in 2016, sent to the lead from the outside gate and quickly opened up.  Compass Zone and Just Howard tracked in closest range, with Revved Up behind them; Divisidero was content to settle three wide near the rear of the compact pack.

Divisidero began an enthusiastic gain outside of the pack coming into the far turn -- but, favoured Synchrony had begun an outside run of his own from just in front of Divisidero.  Divisidero was unfazed: he shifted outside of Synchrony coming into the stretch, went by, and had dead aim on Revved Up, who briefly led once Roman Approval had come back to the pack.

Revved Up dug in, but Divisidero was too good.  He fought all the way to the wire, coming home half a length in front and stopping the clock in 1:54.03 for a mile and three sixteenths on firm turf.  Revved Up held second, half a length in front of the chasing Synchrony.

Tizzarunner, who made a grinding two-wide rally down the lane, was fourth another half-length back.

Just Howard, Twenty Four Seven, Compass Zone, Western Elegance, Roman Approval, and Converge completed the order of finish.  Christian C and Hot Dad were trainer scratches.  With their top-three finishes, Divisidero, Revved Up, and Synchrony all earned berths in the Arlington Million on August 11, with free entry and starting fee waived.

Divisidero launches clear of Revved Up (cherry red cap) and Synchrony (blue cap) to win the 2018 Arlington Handicap.

Divisidero launches clear of Revved Up (cherry red cap) and Synchrony (blue cap) to win the 2018 Arlington Handicap.

Divisidero is a six-year-old bay intact son of Kitten's Joy out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Madame Du Lac.  Bred by Hinkle Farms, he is owned by Gunpowder Farms, who purchased him for $250,000 via its agent Margaux Farm at the 2003 Keeneland September sale.  Divisidero is trained by Kelly Rubley, and was ridden to victory by Jevian Toledo.  The victory was Divisidero's sixth in 19 career starts, his fifth in stakes company, and his fourth in a graded stakes.  The $57,000 winner's share of the purse brought Divisidero's career earnings to $1,244,750.

“First off, thanks to the owner and Kelly for the opportunity to ride such a nice horse,” said jockey Jevian Toledo after the race. “He gave me everything he had. I think he needed the couple of races off the layoff. Kelly did a great job to get him ready for this race, and we got the job done.”

The victory was the first career graded stakes victory for trainer Kelly Rubley.  "It has certainly been an experience, one I am grateful for the opportunity to have had,” said Rubley after the race. "It’s very exciting, I can’t tell you how excited we all are."  No decision had yet been made whether Divisidero would go on to the Arlington Million next month.  "I think this horse is versatile. He can run a mile, and I was confident he could get this mile-and-three-sixteenths. Our options are open."

Divisidero paid $7.00 to win. The $1 exacta over Revved Up (11-10) came back with $38.30.  The trifecta with Synchrony third came back with $43.80 on the combination.  The dime superfecta with Tizzarunner in the lowest rung (11-10-3-6) paid $88.62.

Modesty Handicap: DADDYS LIL DARLING asserts her class

It has been the year of Scat Daddy, and that trend continued at Arlington Park in the Modesty Handicap.  Daddys Lil Darling brought top class into the race, the public bet her down to defined 1.9/1 favouritism in the field of twelve, and she came home a dominant victress of the local prep for the Modesty Handicap.

So often content to rally from the clouds, Daddys Lil Darling instead sat closer to the pace in the Modesty Handicap, three wide in the flight stalking a speed duel between Go Baby Run to the inside and Sully's Dream to the outside.

The complexion of the race quickly changed on the far turn.  Daddys Lil Darling mounted a three-wide bid on the duelling pair.  As she descended, Sully's Dream abruptly pulled up, and longshot Go Baby Run ran out of steam.  This left Daddys Lil Darling with a lead all her own, an advantage she widened into the stretch.

Prado's Sweet Ride, near the back of the pack for so much of the race, called on her stamina.  The Illinois-bred mare, second in last year's Modesty Handicap, circled the rest of the field and entered the stretch in closest range of Daddys Lil Darling.  Daddys Lil Darling, confidently ridden out in the lane, would not be reeled in; she stopped the clock in 1:53.80 for the mile and three sixteenths on firm turf.   Prado's Sweet Ride chased on honestly to come home second, two and a quarter lengths behind.  That was still a length and a half clear of rail-hugging Hallie Belle.  Con Te Partiro just got up for fourth another three and a quarter lengths farther back.  Oh So Terrible, Princess La Quinta, Celestial Insight, Church Social, Majestic Angel, Daring Duchess, and Go Baby Run completed the order of finish.  Sully's Dream pulled up on the far turn, and did not finish.  She suffered a career-ending sesamoid fracture, but the prognosis is good for her to heal pasture-sound after surgery.  La Manta Gris was a trainer's scratch; she instead raced in the Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park, where she finished seventh.

With their top-three finishes Daddys Lil Darling, Prado's Sweet Ride, and Hallie Belle earn berths into the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) on August 11, with free entry and starting fee waived.

Daddys Lil Darling and jockey Brian Hernandez come home well clear in the 2018 Modesty Handicap.

Daddys Lil Darling and jockey Brian Hernandez come home well clear in the 2018 Modesty Handicap.

Daddys Lil Darling is a four-year-old bay daughter of Scat Daddy out of the the Houston mare Miss Hot Salsa, also the dam of 2015 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Mongolian Saturday.  A homebred for Normandy Farm, Daddys Lil Darling is trained by Kenneth McPeek and was ridden to victory by Brian Hernandez, Jr.  The victory was Daddys Lil Darling's fifth in 19 career starts, her fourth in stakes company, and her third against graded foes.  The $55,800 winner's share of the purse brought her career earnings to $1,306,205.

Rider Brian Hernandez trusted in the class and experience of Daddys Lil Darling.  "She was the class of the race," he said after the race. TThe best thing to do with her today was just stay out of her way, let her find her rhythm, and that’s what she did. Kenny had her so prepared today that all I had to do was just kind of be a good passenger, and she’s a Grade I winner, she knows what she’s doing out there – I just let her do her thing."

The Beverly D. Stakes on August 11 is under consideration for Daddys Lil Darling, according to trainer Kenneth McPeek.  "She’s a world traveler, she’s been everywhere," said McPeek. "The Beverly D. is such a wonderful race to even participate in, but for her to have this kind of performance going in it’s going to make us pretty confident next month."

Daddys Lil Darling paid $5.80 to win.  The $1 exacta over Prado's Sweet Ride (13-9) came back with $26.70.  The trifecta with Hallie Belle third (13-9-6) returned $77.70 for each $0.50 on the combination.  The dime superfecta with Con Te Partiro in the lowest rung (13-9-6-12) paid $125.93.

American Derby: REAL STORY makes real easy work of his stakes debut

When 3/2 favourite Captivating Moon was preparing for a tilt in the Mystic Lake Derby after a pair of graded stakes placings, and 2/1 second choice Ezmosh was getting back into routine after a victory in the Arlington Classic (G3), Real Story finally beat winners: in a first-level allowance race at Arlington on June 15, galloping wire to wire against fellow sophomores.  It turns out that was all the grey gelding needed: Real Story made the lead in the Grade 3 American Derby, no one mounted a serious challenge, and he led at every call.

Fast early despite making contact with the gate on the way out, Real Story quickly opened up a commanding lead.  Well off the rail throughout, he raced in the three path on the turns and even wider down the straightaway.  Arlington Classic winner Ezmosh and Steve Asmussen shipper Tap Daddy tracked closest, three to four lengths behind, with the rest chasing behind.

The running got frenetic in the stretch.  The stalking pair could not keep up, but several others tried to chip away at Real Story's lead.  Favourite Captivating Moon unleashed his trademark rally, and Dubby Dubbie showed interest along the rail.  Even Pont Du Gard, the pacesetter's stablemate, tried to get a piece between those two.

Through it all, Joe Bravo conserved enough of Real Story's energy that he held well safe under a drive.  He crossed the wire a length and three quarters clear of the closest chasing flight, stopping the clock in 1:47.61 for a mile and an eighth over firm turf.  Captivating Moon's outside rally proved best of the pursuers; he crossed the finish a neck clear of Dubby Dubbie, who got home a neck ahead of Pont Du Gard,

Tap Daddy, Kitten a Gettin, Ezmosh, and Proquestor completed the order of finish.  With their top-three finishes in the American Derby, Real Story, Captivating Moon, and Dubby Dubbie each earn free entry into the Secretariat Stakes (G1) on August 11, with starting fee waived.

Real Story cruises home to win the 2018 American Derby.

Real Story cruises home to win the 2018 American Derby.

Real Story is a three-year-old grey or roan gelding by Fast Bullet out of the Lasting Approval mare My Own Story.  Real Story is the first stakes winner by his sire.  He is a member of Fast Bullet's only crop of foals; the son of Speightstown stood his first season at stud in 2014, but was euthanized due to complications from colic that December. Real Story's dam My Own Story has a local tie: she is a half-sister to the 2004 Mazel Trick gelding Voy Por Uno Mas, a Chicago fixture from ages two through ten and the winner of the 2009 Richard Radke Illinois Owners Stakes ahead of graded stakes winners Fort Prado and Free Fighter.

Bred by J. Amling and Merriefield Farm, Real Story bears the silks of Jeffrey S. Amling and Merriebelle Stable LLC.  Real Story is trained by Ignacio Correas IV, and Joe Bravo rode him to victory.  The win in the American Derby was Real Story's third career victory, and the $58,200 winner's share of the purse brought his career earnings to $97,902.

"The plan was just don’t fight with him," said trainer Ignacio Correas after the race, about the instructions he gave Bravo.  "We knew he was going to go to the lead; there was no speed. The only question was if he would relax enough to go a mile-and-an-eighth. He’s shown since he was a baby that he was a very good horse that needed time to mature and put it all together."

Real Story paid his backers $16.80 to win.  The $1 exacta over Captivating Moon (7-6) returned $25.10.  A trifecta with Dubby Dubbie third (7-6-4) came back with $48.50 for each $0.50 minimum bet.  The dime superfecta with Pont Du Gard fourth (7-6-4-3) paid $51.35.

Stars and Stripes Stakes: CATCHO EN DIE now a graded stakes winner in two countries

Catcho En Die had a short yet successful racing career in Argentina: he won at first asking, then won again, then won the Grade 1 Gran Premio Miguel Alfredo Martínez de Hoz.  All this happened in the span of two and a half months; he did not race again between February of 2016 and December of 2017, when he returned to finish second in an allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream for new trainer Bill Mott.  Mott then ran him in the Fair Grounds Handicap this February, where he finished ninth, and then dropped him in for a $40,000 tag at Aqueduct on April 21.  Catcho En Die won -- and walked back to the barn with trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul, who dropped the claim slip.

Though a pair of Grade 1 efforts in his first two starts for the new barn proved a bit too tough, the Stars and Stripes proved just right for Catcho En Die.

Let off at 8.6/1 in the field of 11, Catcho En Die and jockey Jose Valdivia sent straight to the lead from the two gate.  Harlan Strong, showing some speed early, tracked just to his outside, with Soglio and Cartoon in close range early as well.  Still, they afforded him a comfortable lead, which gave him everything he needed for a tough stretch run.

Down the lane, Catcho En Die had company.  Soglio advanced from his stalking spot, bearing down to his outside.  Canessar, who had saved ground and unfurled a sharp inside rally around the third turn, slid up the rail inside Catcho En Die.

The pacesetter refused to let either foe pass.  Soglio came first, getting within a head with a furlong to go, but could not poke his nose in front.  Canessar gained inside, but Catcho En Die had too much left.  He prevailed by a neck over Canessar, stopping the timer in 2:27.51 for a mile and a half over firm turf.  It was another neck back to Soglio in third.  2.3/1 favourite Arklow, wide around the final turn and into the stretch, could manage only fourth, another two and a half lengths behind Soglio.

Nessy, Slim Shadey, Bronson, Harlan Strong, Memory Bank, Cartoon, and High On Sugar completed the order of finish.  Twenty Four Seven was a trainer's scratch; he instead raced in the Arlington Handicap.

Catcho En Die (between) turns back Canessar (right) and Soglio (left) to win the 2018 Stars and Stripes Stakes.

Catcho En Die (between) turns back Canessar (right) and Soglio (left) to win the 2018 Stars and Stripes Stakes.

Catcho En Die is a six-year-old dark bay or brown gelding by Catcher in the Rye out of the Engrillado mare Lola Grill.  Bred in Argentina by Jorge Eduardo Livschitz, Catcho En Die is owned by both his trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul and Sotirios Sakatis.  The victory is Catcho En Die's fifth in nine career starts, and his second in graded stakes company.  The $56,400 winner's share of the purse brought his career earnings to $205,054.

The pace setup guided jockey Jose Valdivia's riding. "I took advantage of a paceless race, we had a great post and we didn’t have to run away from them too hard. Naipaul had the horse ready to rock ‘n roll and I knew this horse would stay on so the more challengers that kept coming on the inside, I said just let them eat our dust."

The victory in the Stars and Stripes was Chatterpaul's 100th career training victory, and his second in graded stakes company.  "I have no words to explain it, it’s the greatest feeling on earth," said Chatterpaul. "That’s what I’ve been known for, claiming horses and bringing them up, and that’s what happened today. The horse is classy enough. I looked at the horse, I’ve been watching the horse for quite some time and you know I really take my time when claiming horses. He just seemed to have the perfect trip."

True to form, Chatterpaul's other graded win also came with a horse he claimed: he won the 2011 Manhattan Handicap (G1) with Mission Approved, a $35,000 claim two starts prior.

Catcho En Die paid $19.20 to win.  The exacta over Canessar (2-9) paid $50.00 for each $1 on the combination.  The $0.50 trifecta with Soglio third (2-9-1) came back with $206.40.  The dime superfecta with Arklow in the lowest rung (2-9-1-4) paid $136.64.

Hatoof Stakes: COLONIA breaks through on American debut

Co-breeder Haras d'Etraham had to have seen something in Colonia: they bought her back for €14,000 at the Arqana October Yearling Sale in 2016, then when the price only went to €17,000 at last year's Arqana Summer Sale, they bought her back again.  They can't have been the only people who saw some talent in Colonia, as a move to America attracted several partners.  Those partners include Madaket Stables, a partner on several class horses of this year including Catholic Boy, Midnight Bisou, and Arlington Classic winner Ezmosh.

That promise was on full display in the Hatoof Stakes, as the filly streaked from last to first to win with authority.

Cool Beans, the 5/2 favourite, seized the lead from the inside gate, chased most closely by Go Noni Go, Cheeky Cherub, and Rahway.  Colonia found the inside, as well -- just at the rear of the pack.  With Cool Beans still leading the pack ito the far turn, Colonia flet the urgency.  She edged up, taking slightly closer order, and waited for room.  Near the quarter pole, Colonia waited no time.  She sliced through the pack to the outside, swung four wide into the stretch, and enjoyed clear sailing if she was good enough.

Colonia was good enough.

She gained with every stride down the lane.  She passed the chasing flight inside the eighth pole then set her sights on Cool Beans.  She blew past the pacesetter just inside the sixteenth mark, and sailed clear to the wire.

Colonia stopped the clock in 1:42.23 for the mile and a sixteenth over firm turf.  The time was the fastest the Hatoof Stakes had been run at its current distance.  It was a length and three quarters back to Cool Beans in second.  Go Noni Go checked in another length and a quarter back, holding the show by a neck over Bridaled Temper.  Madame Milan, Bet She Wins, Beach Waltz, Drinks On Me, Cheeky Cherub, and Rahway completed the order of finish.  Hayworth and Mountain Momma were trainer scratches.

Colonia rallies clear of Cool Beans to take the Hatoof Stakes.

Colonia rallies clear of Cool Beans to take the Hatoof Stakes.

Colonia is a three-year-old bay filly by Champs Elysees out of the Muhtathir mare Clara Luna.  Bred in France by Haras d'Etreham and Gestut Zur Kuste Ag, she is owned by co-breeder Haras d'Etreham as well as Madaket Stables LLC, Michael Dubb, and Maurice Lagasse.  She is trained by Graham Motion, and was ridden to victory by jockey Joe Bravo.  The victory was Colonia's second in six career starts, and her first triumph in stakes company.  The $57,000 winner's share of the purse brought Colonia's lifetime earnings to $83,014.

"Graham called me this morning and he was really excited about this filly," recounted Bravo after the race. "It was her first race in America, and wow. The turf course was a little fast this afternoon and she took over turning for home."

Colonia returned $10.20 to win.  The $1 exacta over Cool Beans (5-1) paid $25.10.  A trifecta with Go Noni Go third (5-1-2) came back with $29.45 for each $0.50 on the combination.  The dime superfecta with Bridaled Temper fourth (5-1-2-7) returned $32.29.

All photographs are courtesy of Coady Photography.

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