French-born trainer Christophe Clement hit the Big Apple
with a 1-2 punch worthy of Marcel Cerdan on Belmont Stakes Day when he saddled
the first and second place runners in New
York’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap run
over that Long Island
– an annual stepping stone to the Grade I Arlington Million – boasted six
millionaires and six Grade I winners among its 11 contestants, and was easily
the strongest field of turf-favoring Thoroughbreds assembled this season in North America.
Consequently, the Manhattan’s
Clement-conditioned exacta each added interesting long-range storylines to this
summer’s 28th running of the showcase event of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing
Winning last Saturday’s Manhattan Handicap was Mr. and Mrs.
Bertram Firestone’s Winchester,
who captured Arlington’s
Grade I Secretariat Stakes in 2008. Finishing second, beaten a half-length in
the Manhattan, was Castleton Lyons Farm’s Gio Ponti, the Arlington Million’s
defending champion from 2009.
it should be noted that a strong link between one season’s Secretariat results
and subsequent finishes in the Arlington Million has been established.
Five years ago, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Kitten’s Joy finished second in
the Arlington Million after winning the Secretariat one year earlier. Six
years ago, Brushwood Stables’s Kicken Kris was declared the winner of the
Arlington Million after winning the Secretariat the previous year.
In 1997, Michael Tabor’s Marlin won the Arlington Million
after annexing the Secretariat in 1996, and when James Lewis Jr.’s won the
Million in 1996, it was after he had finished second in the Secretariat in 1995.
When Ryehill Farm’s Awad won the Million in 1995, it was
two years after his Secretariat score in 1993, and when Masayuki Nishiyama’s
Paradise Creek won the 1994 Arlington Million, it was one year after he
finished second behind Awad in the 1993 Secretariat.
As for Gio Ponti, last year’s Arlington Million winner, it
should be noted that – somewhat surprising – no horse has ever been declared
the winner of the Million in back-to-back years. Ralph and Aury Todd’s
The Tin Man won the Million in 2006 and had the lead in mid-stretch in 2007
before being run down in the final furlong by Kingfield Farm’s Jambalaya to
finish second by three-quarters of a length.
Mrs. John Magnier’s Powerscourt crossed under the wire
first in 2004 but was subsequently disqualified and placed fourth.
However, the British-bred came back to be first again under the wire in the
2005 Million, and that result was allowed to stand.
Finally, almost all fans of Thoroughbred racing can
remember that Dotsam Stable’s John Henry won the inaugural Arlington Million in
1981, and came back to become the Million’s only two-time victor in 1984, but
that was after a gap of three years.
Million XXVIII – signature event of the 2010 Chicago Thoroughbred racing season
– will go to the post late in the afternoon of Aug. 21, preceded by the 20th
renewal of the Grade I Beverly D. for the world’s best grass-favoring fillies
and mares. Completing Arlington’s
International Festival of Racing on that day will be the 34th running of the
Grade I Secretariat Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds of international turf
caliber. Together, that trio of top-tiered turf tests are the only three
Grade I events offered in Illinois
on an annual basis.
Also contested at Belmont
on the turf last weekend was the Grade I Just a Game Stakes for fillies and
mares, and that eight-furlong event serves as the prep for the Beverly D.
British-bred Proviso, owned by Juddmonte Farms, was no disappointment as the
choice of the fans, and finishing second a half-length back was George Saufley,
J. J. Pletcher, and Graydon and William Patterson’s Phola. Both are
original nominations to this summer’s Beverly D. Down at Churchill Downs
last Saturday, Nelson McMakin’s Hot Cha Cha and Helen Alexander’s Acoma, also
original nominations to the Arlington Million’s sister race, finished first and
second respectively in the Grade III Early Times Mint Julep Handicap at eight
and a half furlongs over the Louisville
last Friday, Harvey Clarke and Ron Winchell’s Krypton and Ammerland Stud’s
Nordic Truce ran one-two in the Grade III Hill Prince as Secretariat candidates.
Both are original nominees to Arlington’s
Mid-America Triple, which concludes with the Secretariat.