Photo: Four Footed Fotos
In last year’s inaugural running of the American St. Leger, it was
the globetrotting Jakkalberry owned by Darren Dance’s Australian
Thoroughbred Bloodstock and trained by Marco Botti that took home the
top prize in the $400,000 race. That team returns this year with the
in hopes of a repeat score in Saturday’s mile and
eleven-sixteenths marathon turf event at Arlington International
Entering the St. Leger off a solid second-place finish in the Group
II Hardwicke Stakes at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting in June, the
6-year-old Dansili horse also owns a second-place finish in the Group II
Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket a month previous. A
Group II stakes winner in his native country in 2011, Dandino was just a
half-length shy of a Grade I tally when competing in last fall’s
Canadian International at Woodbine Racetrack. Three-time British
champion jockey Ryan Moore will be astride the 9-5 morning line favorite
for the first time Saturday.
The main threat to Dandino is likely to come from Kenneth and Sarah
Ramsey’s Dark Cove. The 6-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro carries a
three-race win skein into the St. Leger off victories in a trio of mile
and a half turf tilts – the Grade III Stars and Stripes at Arlington on
Million Preview Day July 13, the Grade III Louisville Handicap at
Churchill Downs in May and the Grade II Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland in
April. Joel Rosario picks up the mount aboard the Mike Maker-trained
Mark Hawtin’s Wigmore Hall returns to Arlington’s International
Festival for the fourth straight year. The High Chaparral gelding has
yet to leave Chicago with a victory but the Michael Bell trainee did
finish second to Paddy O’Prado in the 2010 Secretariat Stakes. In two
tries in the Arlington Million, the Irish-bred runner finished fourth in
2011 and seventh last year. However, his trips to North America have
not been for naught as he has twice captured the Grade I Northern Dancer
Stakes at Woodbine. In his most recent effort, Wigmore Hall ran third
in the Group II Sky Bet York Stakes in England. Jamie Spencer, who won
the 2011 Million aboard Cape Blanco, has the mount.
Shadwell Stable’s Najjaar, who was a mere half-length by Dark Cove in
the Louisville Handicap, is part of a large local contingent of runners
entered in the St. Leger. A 4-year-old son of Belmont Stakes winner
Jazil, Najjaar was most recently fourth in the Grade III Arlington
Handicap at a mile and a quarter over the local lawn. The Danny
Peitz-trained colt, though winless is six attempts on turf, has been
competitive over the surface. James Graham will be in the saddle.
The Team Block-owned duo of Ioya Bigtime and Suntracer, both trained
by Chris Block, were entered in the inaugural St. Leger last year. The
former, a 6-year-old Dynaformer horse, made much of the pace before
being overtaken by Jakkalberry to finish second. Following the St.
Leger, the eventual Illinois Horse of the Year, won the Grade III
Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs and has since hit the board in a
number of graded turf stakes. Fourth last out in the Stars and Stripes,
Ioya Bigtime will be ridden for the first time Saturday by 2012
Arlington riding champion Francisco Torres.
The latter, rather than run back on what would have been only one
week’s rest, was scratched the morning of the race. He returned a month
later to win the $100,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at
Hawthorne Race Course. Eddie Castro has been named to ride the
5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy, who finished a good second in the Stars
and Stripes last time out.
The other locally based runners in the St. Leger are: Gary and Mary
West’s Code of Conduct (Florent Geroux), a come-from-behind allowance
winner from the barn of perennial leading trainer Wayne Catalano; and
Richard Ravin and Patricia’s Hope LLC’s Ojos de Hielo (Quincy Hamilton),
a Group I stakes-placed in Panama who recently joined the Larry Rivelli
stable and finished second in a restricted stakes race at Lone Star
Park last time out.
The St. Leger, one of four major turf races that comprise Arlington's
International Festival of Racing, will kick off a $200,000 guaranteed
Pick-4 that will include the Secretariat, the Beverly D., and conclude
with the Arlington Million.