The yearly tradition of European raiders visiting Arlington International Racecourse for the International Festival of Racing continues in 2019 with multiple horses shipping in from Europe to try and add a U.S. victory to their resume.
This year’s Million features an intriguing Pegasus World Cup Turf rematch with Magic Wand slated to take on Bricks and Mortar yet again, but she is only the tip of the iceberg as far as international horses running Saturday in Chicago.
Want to know about some of the international contenders lining up for the Grade 1 races? Read below to see some of the horses who earned a new stamp on their passport this week and be sure to turn in to FS2 and TVG to watch all the action live from Arlington.
Magic Wand is a frequent visitor to the U.S. with two trans-Atlantic trips this year and she’s about to register her third with a run at Arlington. This will be a rematch of the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, in which she finished second to fellow Arlington Million entrant Bricks and Mortar. She’s coming into this race off an uncharacteristic 11th-place finish to Enable in a British Group 1 race two weeks ago but other than that run and a fifth in the Grade 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, Magic Wand has proven to be pretty consistent in hitting the board this year. She is still searching for her first win of 2019, but if you’re looking for someone to put on your exacta or trifecta, she’s your girl.
A world traveler with races in six countries on his resume, Hunting Horn makes his sixth journey to the United States to run in the Arlington Million. A fan favorite, Hunting Horn has found decent success in the United States with a third in the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight Stakes at Gulfstream in January, a third in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational last year, and a fourth in the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes in May. It’s likely Hunting Horn will go straight to the lead to set the pace for his stablemate Magic Wand, though he sat just off the pace when finishing fifth to Enable a few weeks ago when another stablemate took up pacemaking duties.
A winner of his last start, Pivoine will be making his first Grade 1 appearance here. He is an interesting runner with a checkered past though he seems to love running about 1 ¼ miles with five of his six victories coming around that distance. He will be up against it here with only one on-the-board finish this year but he could be a sneaky chance to finish in the top three if he runs to his last performance.
French Group 1 winner Intellogent is making his first trip to the United States to compete in the Million after a few off-the-board finishes in French Group 1s this season – though one of those was just a 1 ¾-length loss to the winner. Intellogent is a bit of a hit-or-miss type of horse who either runs a bang up race or is five or more lengths behind the winner, so it’s hard to know what you’re going to get with him. When he is good, he is always right there at the finish line.
The winner of five of her 14 career starts, Awesometank looks to win her second stakes of the season in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes to take her 2019 record to three on-the-board finishes in four starts. Doing her best work at a mile, the Beverly D. will be the longest race Awesometank has competed in to this point with her races at nine furlongs (half a furlong shorter than the Beverly D.) having mixed results in her career. Trained by William Haggas, this will be a step up in competition for the filly but the switch from European stakes to American stakes is often a successful one for European runners when they ship to North America.
Second to Star Catcher in her past two starts and with top-three finishes in both the Irish and English Oaks this season, Fleeting is looking to break her four-start losing streak in the Beverly D. The 3-year-old filly was a Group 2 winner last year as a 2-year-old and has proved among the most consistent in her division this year. She cuts back in distance here after three straight runs at a mile and a half and should be right in her comfort zone here. Fleeting has an amazing turn of foot and you can expect to see her flying at the end of the Beverly D. as the field races down the stretch.
Undefeated in two starts this year, including a victory over the highly regarded Madhmoon last out, Never No More will be making his sixth career start in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. The 3-year-old colt trained by Aidan O’Brien will be stretching out to a mile for the first time in his career here, but he’s shown that he should be able to get the distance when winning twice over seven furlongs. The big question here is how the colt will handle a fast track as he’s only raced on a good surface once in his career – finishing second in his debut – with the rest of his starts on turf coming on yielding or soft ground. O’Brien has won this race four times with his last victory coming in 2015 with Highland Reel.
A Group 2 winner last year, Van Beethoven is looking to put a frustrating first half of 2019 behind him in the Secretariat. The Scat Daddy colt has run in four different countries this year but hasn’t yet hit the board as a 3-year-old, a trend his connections hope to break here. This Grade 1 may be a bit easier than the Group 1 competition he’s been taking on in Europe, but it still may be above his head. The colt usually races in midpack but don’t be surprised if you see a tactic change that sees the colt leading the field early on in the one-mile race here.