The Grade 1 Arlington Million is the centerpiece of the Chicagoland track’s “International Festival of Racing” and it never was more international than this year’s edition Aug. 11.
Robert Bruce, a Chilean import with a Scottish name and a New York trainer, rallied stoutly outside his rivals to win by a half-length over stablemate Almanaar and immediately was presented with an engraved silver invitation to the Group 1 Japan Cup in Tokyo.
A 4-year-old colt by Fast Company, Robert Bruce raced near the back of the nine-horse Million field with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons. At the quarter-pole he had only one horse beaten, but he was in full flight and scored with a well-timed move down the center of the course.
The Million favorite, Oscar Performance, was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Jose Ortiz, after he took a bad step. He walked into a horse ambulance without apparent distress and early reports were positive.
Robert Bruce finished the 1 1/4 miles on firm turf, upgraded from good earlier in the day, in 2:02.29.
The winner, owned and bred by Haras Convento Viejo, was undefeated in six starts in his native Chile and won two Group 1 races there. Sent to trainer Chad Brown, he won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy at Belmont Park May 5 in his first U.S. start, then finished sixth with a rough trip in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan June 9.
“It’s a tradition in Chile that the winner of the classics there is sent to the United States,” said Haras Convento Viejo’s Carlos Lavin. “I hope we can open a market for Chilean horses in the United States.”
Lavin said there are many potential American runners in Chile, although he admitted Robert Bruce is a “once in a lifetime” standout. Still, he said, “We brought him here because we could not sell him here.”
In addition to the Tiffany trophy, the Million winner was handed a silver tray, engraved with an invitation to the Japan Cup that noted there is a $2 million bonus for a Million-Japan Cup double. Japan Racing Association President and CEO Masayuki Goto attended the Arlington races Saturday to present the invitation and told Lavin, “You should come.”
“We will see,” Lavin responded. “When is the race?”
The Japan Cup is Nov. 25 — 22 days after the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. Robert Bruce earned a “Win and You’re In” berth in the Breeders’ Cup starting gate via the Million victory.
“He’s got an unbelievable kick,” Brown said of Robert Bruce. “But so did the losing horse. They both ran tremendous.”
Brown said he hasn’t decided a course for Robert Bruce and has some sorting out to do among his turf runners. In the three Grade 1 races on the Arlington card, Brown-trained horses finished second in the Secretariat for 3-year-olds; first, second, third, and fifth in the Beverly D. for fillies and mares; and first, second, and fifth in the Million.
He said if Robert Bruce does run before the Breeders’ Cup, the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Sept. 29 is a possibility.
Sistercharlie Records Third Grade 1 Win of Year in Beverly D.
Brown first won the Beverly D. in 2011 with Stacelita, then scored with Watsdachances in 2015, Sea Calisi in 2016, and Dacita in 2017.
With the win in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race, Sistercharlie earned a guaranteed starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs. Sistercharlie won the Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes in April at Keeneland and the Diana Stakes in July at Saratoga.—Jeremy Balan
Carrick Rallies to 38-1 Upset in Secretariat
Irish invaders were third and eighth. Bandua ran evenly to finish third under William Buick. Hunting Horn, the second betting choice, raced with the early pace, then faded in the final furlong to finish eighth with Ryan Moore riding for trainer Adian O'Brien.
Carrick, a Giant's Causeway colt out of the Distorted Humor mare How Far to Heaven, ran 1 1/4 miles on good turf in 2:01.04. Tom Morley trains the colt for Donegal Racing.
Carrick was making only his fourth start in a career that began with a win May 12 at Belmont Park. He won again June 21 and finished third in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park in his most recent outing.
Donegal’s Jerry Crawford said he was “incredibly confident” despite the colt’s 38-1 odds. “We felt if he had open space to run in, he'd relax and run his race.”—Bob Kieckhefer