Virgina H. Tarra Trust’s homebred Oak Brook, winner of the Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington International Racecourse and second in the Grade III Arlington Handicap on July 8, will train toward a possible start in the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 12 said trainer Brian Williamson.
“He came out of the [Arlington Handicap] good,” said Williamson. “We don’t know how tough the Million is going to come up, but we’ll take a look at it.”
The 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway was making his third start of the year in the Arlington Handicap and his first start against graded-stakes company. Sent off at betting odds of 45-1, Oak Brook galloped steadily just off the hip of the pacesetter, finished gamely down the stretch to hold off a late charge from Kasaqui (ARG), but had to settle for second by a ¾-length margin behind the winner, Ghost Hunter.
“One good thing is he’s won on soft ground, and he ran well on firm,” said Williamson. “We’re going to train along to [the Million]. He’s got a shot to run well if he goes. The numbers don’t lie, I think he’s much better than he was when I had him at Oaklawn – he might be peaking.”
Oak Brook is out of the Crafty Prospector mare Crafty Oak, winner of the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne Racecourse in 1999. The mating of Crafty Oak to Giant’s Causeway has produced a total of six foals with excellent results. Crafty Oak was first bred to Giant’s Causeway in 2002 to produce 2003 foal Cause She’s Crafty, runner-up in the 2005 Illinois Debutante Stakes. In 2005 the mating produced multiple-stakes winner Apple Martini, and in 2006 Giant Oak. As a 3-year-old Giant Oak won the Arlington Classic, then at four wonthe Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. In his final season of racing as a 5-year-old, Giant Oak captured the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
“He has always had the class,” said Chris Block, who trained Oak Brook early in his career. “He had the ability to be a good horse; he’s from a very solid family. He had some setbacks, but they’ve been patient with him and he’s had the opportunity to become a nice horse.”
With his finish in the top three of the Arlington Handicap, Oak Brook will receive entry with starting fees waived into the Arlington Million, a “Win and You’re In” event for the Grade I $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 4.
GODOLPHIN’S SCOTTISH POSSIBLE FOR ARLINGTON MILLION
Trainer Charlie Appleby, who brought Godolphin’s Tryster (IRE) to Arlington International Racecourse last summer to contest the Grade I Arlington Million, could have another starter in blue this year with Scottish (IRE). Following his second-place finish in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup in Melbourne last October, the 5-year-old gelding returned from a lengthy spell in the Group I Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 21. Facing a strong field that included 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Highland Reel (IRE), the son of European Juvenile Champion Teofilo (IRE) led in his usual style from the start of the 1¼-miles trip but was headed two furlongs from home by Highland Reel, and despite showing a continued run had to settle for fifth, three lengths behind the winner.
Appleby indicated after the race that the Arlington Million on Aug. 12 might be the next race for the Godolphin stayer, who finished the 2016 season with two wins and three placings in his five starts. Scottish’s best race came in the Caulfield Cup at the end of his 4-year-old season when the gelding’s strong pacesetting style kept him up front long enough to hang on for second after the 1½-miles trip, just three lengths behind winner Jameka.
Tryster, who finished eighth in last year’s Million, was Appleby’s first starter in the Grade I race at Arlington. He was ridden by William Buick, who is possible to make the trip again to ride Scottish should he enter. Buick has ridden in the Million on five other occasions, including a win aboard Debussy in 2010.
Source: Arlington International Racecourse