With the dearth of true marathon distance events
in North American racing, Arlington Park took the initiative in 2012 to
enhance its International Festival of Racing program by inaugurating the
$400,000 American St. Leger at a mile and eleven-sixteenths (1m 5 1/2f)
on the turf. Judging by the response of horsemen locally, domestically
and world-wide by jamming the entry box for Saturday's race with 12
runners, the new race looks to be a hit.
The American St. Leger joins a star-studded 12-race card that
includes a troika of Grade I turf races – the 30th running of the
Arlington Million for older turf stars, the $750,000 Beverly D. for
fillies and mares and the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-old
grass runners of international caliber.
Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock's Jakkalberry has been installed
as the 9-5 morning line favorite for the American St. Leger. The
6-year-old horse finished third in his first two races of the year – the
Group III Nad Al Sheba Trophy and the Group I Dubai Sheema Classic at
Meydan in March before reporting home fifth in his most recent race, the
Group II Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot.
Trained by Marco Botti, the son of Storming Home will have Colm
O'Donoghue, who won last year's Grade I Secretariat aboard Treasure
Beach, in the irons.
Team Block's Illinois-bred Ioya Bigtime, winner of the Grade III
Stars and Stripes here on Million Preview Day July 14, is the shortest
price of the American-based runners at 9-2. The son of Dynaformer is
trained by Arlington mainstay Chris Block and will be ridden Saturday by
Jeffrey Sanchez, who is competing at Arlington for the first time this
Suntracer, Ioya Bigtime's stablemate, would be returning on
one-week's rest should he start in the St. Leger. The Illinois-bred son
of Kitten's Joy won last Saturday's $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes
over this course and before that was third to his stablemate in the
Stars and Stripes. Eduardo Perez would ride.
German-bred Zuider Zee, owned by H. R. H. Princess Haya of Jordan, is
another European invader likely to command some respect at the betting
windows. The John Gosden-trained son of Sakhee is a long-distance
specialist who is turning back from a race at two and eleven-sixteenth
miles in his last start in June at Ascot. Earlier this year, the
5-year-old gelding was second in a 1 ¾-mile race at Nottingham and then
finished in a dead-heat for fourth in the Group III Henry II Stakes at
Sandown. William Buick, who won the 2012 Arlington Million aboard
Debussy for these same connections, has the mount.
Italian import Lake Drop, a recent purchase by Team Valor
International and now trained by Graham Motion, will be making his first
start stateside in the American St. Leger. The son of Lemon Drop Kid
won his final start overseas when he captured the Group III Premio Carlo
d'Alessio at Capannelle in May. Ramon Dominguez will be aboard Lake
Drop for the first time Saturday.
One other European invader – Eastwind Racing & Robert Trussell's
Bridge of Gold - is slated to start in the St. Leger. The Mikael
Magnusson-trained son of champion Giant's Causeway was third in a Group
III race at Newbury in April but has finished unplaced in two subsequent
starts. Kieren Fallon gets the call.
The remainder of the field is America-based: Dorothy Gentner's New
York invader Game Ball (Jose Espinoza); Richard Raven & Christine
Wagner's local favorite Helicopter (Brandon Meier); Richard Otto's
Lemonade Kid (Francisco Torres); Eagle Valley Farm's Lethal (James
Graham); Joel Meredith & T. C. Stable's Lumberyard Jack (Mario
Gutierrez); and Joseph Allen's Vertiformer (Julien Leparoux). The last
named is cross-entered in the Arlington Million.