Arlington Million day is always a special day here in
Chicago. The track does a great job of
rolling out the red carpet and the local celebrities were out in full force
including White Sox great Frank Thomas, Blackhawks coach Joel Quennville, and
hall of fame coach Mike Ditka. Racing
wise, some of the best turf horses in the world came to Chicago to test their
mettle on the most beautiful turf course in the land at Arlington Park. 34,022 fans came out to the track today in
what is the biggest turnout for Million Day since 2000!
(Little Mike wins! - by Four Footed Fotos)
In the feature race, we all knew that Little Mike was going
to the lead. The big question was
whether or not anyone would put some pressure on him. Willcox Inn tracked Little Mike through the
first mile, generally about a length behind, and got as close as a neck before
Little Mike turned on the jets and took off down the stretch. I spoke briefly to trainer Mike Stidham
before the race and he mentioned that he was definitely worried about Little
Mike’s lone speed. About his horse
Willcox Inn he remarked, “the horse is doing great, let’s see how he does
against this company.” Willcox Inn
ultimately faded to 8th. James
Graham mentioned of the race, “Perfect trip.
Just coludn’t keep up with them.
Maybe a little too far for him.”
My choice, Afsare
, was a good citizen in the paddock however
when he approached the starting gate to load, he wanted no part of it: backing
himself up and even crashing through the turf rail! He eventually loaded, sat second flight, and
charged home to try to catch Little Mike missing by a length and a half for
place. Jockey Kieren Fallon said, “I
know what was happening with [Little Mike] and there was nothing I could
do. I had to ride my horse to win and
there was no pace.”
A lot of late money came in on post time favorite
Crackerjack King who remained in 5th
for the entire trip. Little Mike was the favorite for almost the
entire time up to post before then. Jockey
knew how to ride Little Mike however in setting just the right
pace with early fractions of 25.0, 49.4, and 1:15.0.
had many entries here at Arlington today and in
the end it was Little Mike giving him a Grade 1 victory!
Earlier in the day the ladies were featured. 6-1 shot and Irish-bred I’m A Dreamer
in from second flight to score in the Beverly D.
! At the quarter pole she fanned four-wide and
stayed in the four path to bring home the trophy! She had to fend off some tough challenges by
late but she came through as the Europeans scored
their third victory of the day. Speaking
of Marketing Mix, winner of last year’s Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington, saved ground
in the second flight, found an opening, and shifted five-wide to try to catch
the winner. As expected, Romacaca
out to the early lead under jockey Cisco Torres but didn’t have enough to
follow through ultimately finishing 7th
. Post time favorite Aruna
stumbled badly out
of the gate and never recovered.
(I'm a Dreamer - Four Footed Fotos)
In what was the deepest field of the stakes races, I’m A
Dreamer travels back to Europe with one of the more impressive victories on the
day! My $10 win bet on her paid $73 so I
was obviously very happy about that!!
(I'm a Dreamer)
In what was one of the more intriguing races of the day, the
Secretariat stakes featured the best in three year old turf routers and was
attempting to determine how good Silver Max really is. As expected, Silver Max was sent to the lead,
building a 2 length lead through the half mile.
The post-time favorite was finally challenged one mile in by Daddy Long
Legs who was wearing blinkers for the first time and briefly held the
lead. The lead changed hands again at
the top of the stretch as 5/2 shot Summer Front took charge and even led by 1 ½
(Bayrir - Four Footed Fotos)
That's when it all
changed. The lighty-raced French import,
Bayrir, who broke slowly and found the
rail to save ground, started a huge charge at the top of the stretch ,
ultimately running down Summer Front to win by 1 ¼ lengths!
Finally, as you probably know by now, Arlington introduced a
new stakes race for Million Day. The
American St. Leger run at one mile and 11/16 was almost won wire to wire. Chris Block’s Ioya Bigtime led for over half
the race, leading the pack through 1 mile and 3/8 by 2 ½ lengths! It was at that point that post-time favorite
Jakkalberry took over and dominated the field by 2 ¼ lengths scoring big in
this inaugural race. Jakkalberry sat in
second flight shifted to the rail around the second turn, then fanned out
three-wide to run down the pacesetter for the victory!
(Jakkalberry - by Four Footed Fotos)
Though this victory was quite expected, I
wasn’t sure what to think as Jakkalberry was bucking a few times in the
paddock. I thought he was washed out…but
I stand corrected!
This was an amazing day of racing and we had the privilege
to see some of the best turf horses in the world! On top of that it was great to meet up with
friends from across the country as well.
For my day in photos, CLICK HERE.