Race of the Week 2017
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The Dark Horse

Little Mike Gate to Wire in the Arlington Million!

Behind some dawdling fractions, Little Mike broke to the lead and never looked back to win the 30th running of the Arlington Million on what was a picture perfect day in Chicago! 


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 Ramon Dominguez 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. 

Dale Romans 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 closed 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 Marketing Mix and Joviality 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 went 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 lengths. 






























(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


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Older Comments about Little Mike Gate to Wire in the Arlington Million!...

I saw that too. He didn't have a tongue tie. I wonder if he bit his tongue from stress.
Is it just me, or did LM look like he was bleeding a lot in his mouth?
I was really, really impressed with the appearance of Bayrir. Now there's a horse that looks the part! I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him. Nice job with the article, Chris.
just in the photo of him posted in this article, it looks like he is bleeding quite a bit
Little Mike Before The Race Was Cut By The Lip Chain
Great recap, Dark Horse!!
Maybe but I didn't see it and I watched the race and post race presentation.

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
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