Arlington Park’s International Festival of Racing in mid-August always attracts horses from around the world, and this year is no different. Four festival graded stakes races (from five graded stakes on the card) ranging in distance from 1 3/16 miles to 1 11/16 miles headline the Arlington card on Saturday, Aug. 13 and we have a large contingent of both European- and U.S.-based horses here this week with 47 horses entered in the four festival races, including a full field in the Beverly D. Stakes.
Not sure who you should know in each of these races? Read below to see who some of the International Festival’s top competitors are.
$1-million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf “Win and You’re In” Arlington Million
Deauville is trying to do something a 3-year-old has done in the Arlington Million since Tolomeo in 1983 – win the race. Deauville got a dream trip in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes last month, sitting right off the pace and taking over when Toughest ’Ombre faded. Trained by Aidan O’Brien and owned by the Coolmore partners and breeder Ms. Fitriani Hay, Deauville is in the same situation as Ballydoyle where his connections must have a lot of confidence in him to put him in here instead of the 3-year-old-restricted Secretariat Stakes.
The Pizza Man is the defending winner of this race so he’s definitely one to keep an eye on. He won the American St. Leger in 2014, the year before he won the Million, and is trying to make it three straight festival wins here. He isn’t in as good form as he was last year coming into this, but he obviously likes the Arlington track, winning here 10 times. I think this is a tough task for him but he was fourth by only about a head last out in the Stars and Stripes Stakes at this track in July.
As I write this, it is pouring at Arlington Park. That doesn’t work well for Tryster, who looks extremely live in this race but prefers firm ground. However, the Arlington Million goes off in more than 24 hours and it’s supposed to be a hot day, so he’s still very live here. His exercise rider said that he loves the track and he’s moved well here, so if you’re betting the Million or just watching the race, look for the Godolphin blue to be in front at the finish line if the turf is firm Saturday.
$700,000 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf “Win and You’re In” Beverly D. Stakes
Ballydoyle is coming into the Beverly D. Stakes off a bad race at Belmont, but I am drawing a huge line through that race (and her start before that in France when she ran into trouble). She never seemed to really handle the ground there and it was a very rare bad race for her. However, she will be facing elders for the first time and only Euro Charline has won this race at that age, so admittedly Ballydoyle has some challenges to overcome. If she can bounce back from her last two starts, I think she definitely has a chance to win this. Her connections don’t often send over horses without a chance, so she’s one to keep an eye on.
Marypop is owned by Arlington Park co-owner Richard Duchossois and was purchased earlier this year out of France to point for this race – which is named for Duchossois’ late wife. Marypop’s U.S. debut didn’t go as planned with the filly never really clicking into gear, but with the aim always being this race and her connections staying on course despite a fifth in that debut, expect her to be live here. Her trainer, Michael Stidham, has a string here and is hitting at a 22-percent win rate at this track with 58 percent of his horses in the money this meet.
Sea Calisi is the morning-line favorite here and that’s not a big surprise. She’s trained by the red-hot turf trainer Chad Brown, and in her two starts in the U.S. this year won the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes by 2 ½ lengths in her debut and was second by three-quarters of a length last out in the New York Stakes in June. Brown won this race – via disqualification – last year with Watsdachances and in 2011 with Stacelita, so he knows what it takes to get a horse ready for this race, but it should be noted that both of those horses were coming into the race after racing in July.
$450,000 Secretariat Stakes
If you recognize the name Cherry Wine or Oscar Nominated, don’t be surprised. It’s not every day you see Triple Crown race runners switching to the turf, but that is exactly what is happening here. Cherry Wine was second to Exaggerator in the Preakness while Oscar Nominated was 17th in the Kentucky Derby. Interestingly, the sire of both of these horses won this race during their racing careers, so they obviously both should have some turf ability in this race. I’m not sure what to think of these two, but Oscar Nominated will have a pacemaker in Scissors and Tape and finished second in the local prep for this race, so he may get his chance to shine on the turf here. But don’t forget about Cherry Wine, who should also appreciate a switch back to turf.
When racing fans think Secretariat, they think Aidan O’Brien. The Irish trainer has won three of the last five runnings of this race and he sends out Long Island Sound on Saturday. Long Island Sound won his first three starts before finishing third to Hawkbill in a Group 3 race at Royal Ascot. Long Island Sound’s sixth in the Belmont Derby Invitational looks anything-but impressive on the surface, but he was one of a big blanket finish and finished just 2 ¼ lengths behind winner Deauville. There are a lot of quality horses in here, but I think Long Island Sound is the most likely winner.
Beach Patrol has run in stakes the last three outs and finished on the board in two of those three, including a very close second in the American Turf Stakes in May. Beach Patrol beat Long Island Sound last out when he was third in the Belmont Derby, so he does have a slight advantage here. I’ve watched him train at Arlington over the last few days, and Beach Patrol is an extremely good-looking and powerful colt, so I’ll be expecting him to at least hit the board in this race.
$300,000 American St. Leger
It isn’t often in the United States that you see a horse win a big race over jumps then run in a graded stakes, but for Irish invader Clondaw Warrior it’s just another day. The 9-year-old gelding has made the switch back and forth from jumps races to flat races throughout his 38-race career, winning a flat race at Royal Ascot last year and coming into the American St. Leger off a win in the 2-mile Guinness Galway Hurdle last month. The distance shouldn’t be a problem at all for Clondaw Warrior and his trainer, Willie Mullins, is a genius at the switch back and forth. Don’t be surprised if you see him in the winner’s circle here, he’s a real threat even with his unconventional racing schedule
Da Big Hoss is aptly named and is a deserving morning-line favorite here. He was claimed in June of last year for $50,000 and has easily paid back trainer Mike Maker and Skychai Racing in the last 14 months. After the claim, he won four straight races before finishing sixth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in October. This year, he’s won three of the four races he’s contested and easily handled a 2-mile race last out. He looks like he’s the most likely winner of this race ... not too bad for a horse who hadn’t even seen a stakes race a year ago.