Priscilla Vaccarezza’s three-time North American Grade I winner and
defending Arlington Million champion Little Mike will defend his crown
against a field that includes the winners of Group I races on four other
continents in Saturday’s marquee turf spectacular. The Dale
Romans-trained son of Spanish Steps has not finished better than fourth
in three Grade/Group I events in 2013, including a disappointing trip to
Dubai, but has been training forwardly for his confident connections.
However, it is a star on the rise, Yvonne Jacques’ multiple Grade
II-winning Grandeur, who is listed as the 7-2 morning line favorite.
The son of Verglas won two Grade II stakes while wintering in the United
States last year. In his last race, the Jeremy Noseda-trained charge
ran impeccably to finish second in a salty renewal of the Group II Sky
Bet York Stakes, three-quarters of a length behind Mukhadram – one of
the best middle distance horses in Europe – and 4¾ lengths ahead of
fellow Million entrant The Apache.
Hunter’s Light, from the globally powerful Godolphin Stable, invades
in an attempt to win his third Grade/Group I on as many continents. In
the last year, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained 10-furlong specialist won
the Group I Premio Roma in Italy on the grass and the Group I Al Maktoum
Challenge Round 3 in the UAE on the all-weather – both 10-furlong
races. He enters off a third-place finish in another 10-furlong Group
I, the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich. Three-time British champion
jockey Ryan Moore has the call.
Indy Point, a winner of three Argentinian Group I races, made his
North American debut in the July 24 Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar last out,
winning impressively by a widening 1¼ lengths. A son of Indygo Shiner,
GusMay-Fer’s Indy Point is trained by the highly able hands of Hall of
Famer Richard Mandella, a conditioner with an enviable record of 8-1-3-2
in the Arlington Million. In 2012, Indy Point won two-thirds of the
Argentinian Triple Crown, including a victory in the Group I Gran Premio
Jockey Club over a left-handed grassy 10 furlongs, in which he sped
home in 1:58.25. Hall of Famer and two-time Million winner Gary Stevens
has the ride.
South African Group I victor The Apache looks to return to the form
that earned him a victory in the 2011 Group I Champions Cup on his
native continent and an excellent runner-up finish two races back in the
Group I Dubai Duty Free. The Mike de Kock trainee will be ridden by
two-time French champion jockey Christophe Soumillon and comes off what
appeared to be a fitness-building fourth-place finish in the York
Two horses who have yet to claim Grade/Group I glory, but figure to
garner significant respect are Windy Hill Farm’s lightning-fast
multi-surface performer Nates Mineshaft and Robert E. Courtney, Jr.’s
three-time Grade III Arlington Handicap winner Rahystrada. The latter
(Rosie Napravnik aboard) finished in a dead-heat for third in last
year’s Million for trainer Byron “Scooter” Hughes and will be the first
horse to compete in the race four times. Nates Mineshaft (E. T. Baird),
once considered one of the best dirt horses in America, has been
reinvented on the grass and looks to be rounding back into top shape for
trainer Anne P. Smith.
The most intriguing longshot may be Giuliano Manfredini’s lightly
raced Guest of Honour, who earned his way to the Million with a fine
third in the Group II Summer Mile Stakes – the same race in which fellow
Million entrant Mull of Killough finished second. A son of Cape Cross –
the same sire of world champions Sea the Stars and Ouija Board – Guest
of Honour is trained by Marco Botti and will be ridden by Martin Haley.
Invictus’ Mull of Killough, a 7-year-old gelding, was a good fifth –
beating Hunter’s Light – in the Singapore Airlines International Cup
prior to the Summer Mile. A return to that form makes the Jane
Chapple-Hyam trainee very competitive here.
A series of stellar steeds round out what will be a distinguished
renewal of the Million. Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Real Solution, a
Grade I-placed son of 2004 Secretariat winner Kitten’s Joy, is looking
to give trainer Chad Brown and jockey Alan Garcia their first Million
wins. Donegal Racing’s Finnegans Wake, a son of 2005 Million victor
Powerscourt, returns to Arlington for the first time since running
arguably his best race when runner-up in last year’s Grade I Secretariat
Stakes. Dale Romans trains and Robby Albarado, winner of the 2007
Million, rides. Pearl Bloodstock’s 6-year-old gelding campaigner Side
Glance, a seven-time Group/Grade I performer who finished third to
Frankel in 2012 at Royal Ascot and fourth – defeating Hunter’s Light –
in this year’s Dubai World Cup hopes to return to winning form for
trainer Andrew Balding and jockey Jamie Spencer. Lastly, Niall Racing’s
Temeraine, an improving 4-year-old gelding trained by Tom Proctor,
hopes to give Eddie Castro an upset win in his first Million ride.
The Arlington Million provides the winner an automatic starting
position in the Breeders’ Cup Turf as part of the “Win and You’re In”
Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.