If you were hoping for the Americans to make a strong grass stand on Arlington's big day of fabulous turf racing, you went home sorely disappointed, and things did not look good right from the get-go. As the Suburban Chicago skies opened up over the Arlington Million festivities, the chances of a horse from the United States winning in any of the three grade one turf races seemingly evaporated into the damp air. The firm Arlington Park turf quickly turned to yielding, and the quality of the foreign runners predictably bubbled to the surface. The first of the big races proved to be an ominous precursor to the absolute beating the American contingent was about to be handed.
Winner of the Group 1 Irish Derby at the Curragh in June, and a near miss second in the Group 1 Investec Derby before that, Treasure Beach made the trip to Arlington with greater credentials than any other three-year-old that has ever run in the Secretariat Stakes. The class of the Aidan O'Brien trainee became evident in the late stages of the $400,000 grade one affair.
Sitting pretty just off a slow early pace, the sophomore son of Galileo quickened at the head of the stretch, before winning a prolonged stretch battle with pacesetter Ziyarid to win by a neck. Not lost on this onlooker was the stark fact that the second place finisher was the only other European in the field. In fact, the only American runner at all to make any noise was Banned who made a run on the rail after finally getting room in the stretch. But in the final sixteenth, it was all about the two Euros, as Treasure Beach joined Ziyarid from the outside, and slowly edged ahead to grab his 5th victory in 10 lifetime starts.
In the day's other grade one turf races, it was the 2010 Irish Derby champion, Cape Blanco, proving best to score impressively in the Arlington Million by 2 ½ lengths over America's hero, Gio Ponti. While in the Beverly D., it was the big mare from France, Stacelita winning for the ninth time in her excellent career as the 9-5 bettor's choice.
I alluded to the rain as a contributing factor towards today's results, and to some extent maybe it was, but the harsh reality is it probably mattered little as far as which horses made their way to the winner's circle. As a fan of American racing, I have to concede that the Europeans are simply too good for our horses on the turf, much as I would like to say otherwise. Today at Arlington Park, it was never more clear to me.
Photo by Four Footed Photos