When last seen this side of the pond, Magician motored by the fantastic filly, The Fugue, to make his American debut a fruitful one in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf. The victory over the Santa Anita lawn for the fresh Irish-bred colt, in which he was still seventh at the top of the lane, was a powerful demonstration of pure grass talent. Now a more mature four, American fans may get the second act of the big, impressive magic show in next Saturday’s Arlington Million. Owned by the power trio of Tabor, Smith and Magnier, and trained by the turf ubiquitous Aidan O’Brien, Magician is thought to be likely to make the trip, according to the latest news coming from his Irish yard.
Since his dreamy win in California, it has been a bit of a mixed bag for the grand looking son of Galileo. Perfect in the States, a few losses have piled up for Magician across the Atlantic. After an off the board finish in his seasonal debut in the rich Dubai Sheema Classic, Magician strung together a solid run of three races, including a win in the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes at The Curragh in early May, which was also the site of his classic win in last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas. He returned to that course in his native Ireland to finish second in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold, while never able to catch another possible Million invader, Noble Mission, on a ground with a little more cut to it than he prefers.
Traveling over to England for his fourth start of the year, Magician ran a huge race to finish ahead of the defending Prix de l’arc de Triomphe winner, Treve, in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. The strong effort did not result in a win, though, as The Fugue earned the final victory of her stellar career, gaining more than an ounce of revenge for the Santa Anita defeat.
Most recently, Magician stretched back out to 12 furlongs for one of the most important turf races in the world. Unfortunately for him, the course at Ascot came up pretty soft for the Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 26, and Magician’s late rally was left with little punch, ultimately seeing him finish sixth of eight. Not deterred, O’Brien seems keen to run Magician back on American turf, where he is likely to find a course firmer than what he felt in England, and at a ten furlong distance, similar to his three strong runs of 2014.
If indeed the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf champ does make the trip, Magician will be, along with a few other classy Europeans, including Trading Leather, on a short list of horses to beat in the 32nd edition of Chicago’s top race. While I would love to see an American horse take home the big prize in the Arlington Million, which has long been my favorite turf race, I am compelled to tell it like it is. This year, it looks like Magician and his Euro compatriots would seem to have the U.S. horses over the proverbial barrel.