One who may be up for such a challenge is Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s defending Million winner Real Solution. A homebred son of America’s top turf sire Kitten’s Joy, Real Solution was adjudged the victor of last year’s Million after the disqualification of The Apache. This year – after a slow start to his season – he vigorously returned to form with a visibly pleasing win in the Grade I Manhattan Stakes – the same race in which he finished third en route to Arlington glory in 2013. With such a rebound in his very recent past and connections who are not lacking confidence, it would be of little surprise to see the emblazoned face of the Chad Brown trainee collecting the winner’s share once again. National leading jockey in money earned Javier Castellano has the call on the leading American hope.
Owned by the Niarchos Family of Greece and trained in France by internationally renowned conditioner Pascal Bary, Smoking Sun comes off arguably the best race of his career – a solid second in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup over Kranji’s flat and left-handed course. The son of American stallion Smart Strike’s last win was three races back in the Group II Prix d’Harcourt at Longchamp over the same 1¼-miles distance at which he has thrived for most of his 14-race career. It is also definitely worth noting that the muscular dark bay has targeted the Million since early in the season. Bary – who won the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Arlington with Domedriver – has enlisted the services of regular rider Stephane Pasquier.
Arguably the best horse trained in his home country, Sam-Son Farm’s reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Up With the Birds was a classic winner last year as a sophomore in native land and a Grade I winner in last fall’s Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park. A horse who needs to be raced into shape, the Malcolm Pierce-trained son of Stormy Atlantic has been slow to return to form in 2014 – but did so in a big way last out in the Grade II Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine when annihilating six quality foes in a cracking 1:45.74 (getting his last eighth in just under 12 seconds while under a hand ride). Regular rider Eurico Da Silva will make the trip for the mount in what will be the capable 4-year-old colt’s toughest race to date.
Few horses have passports stamped more than the Andrew Balding-trained England-based Side Glance. A durable and dogged performer, Side Glance was a fine third in last year’s Million after minor trouble in upper stretch. A Group I winner in Australia, the dark brown 7-year-old son of Passing Glance has competed in five countries on four different continents in the last year and seems to travel with aplomb for his owner, the Qatari royal family’s Pearl Bloodstock. Jamie Spencer, who piloted Side Glance to a two-length loss in 2013, has the return mount.
While it is rare that a horse-for-course is not based at said establishment, there is rarely one as welcome to the Chicagoland oval’s betting public as Donegal Stable’s Finnegans Wake. A robustly built son of 2005 Million champion Powerscourt, the bay Dale Romans trainee has raced three times at the Chicagoland oval and rewarded his supporters with a win, second and solid fourth-place finish at odds of 5-1, 8-1 and 28-1. Included in such was a narrow victory in last month’s Million course and distance prep – the Grade III Arlington Handicap – in which he stalked an indolent pace and outkicked his rivals to win in a blanket finish. International superstar jockey Ryan Moore has picked up the mount and will be the Arlington-adoring contestant’s seventh different jockey in as many starts since a fourth-place finish in last year’s Million.
Rounding out the Million field is Andrew Bentley Stable’s Hardest Core – a promising son of Hard Spun who has been untouchable in two starts – an allowance race and a minor stakes – since being purchased at the Keeneland November sale after eight starts with Kiaran McLaughlin. Subsequently switched to trainer Edward Graham, the Mid-Atlantic-based son of Hard Spun survived a horrific accident while being gelded soon after the purchase. The 4-year-old bay’s owners, who have overcome as much agonizing adversity as their equine star to get to this point, will have regular rider Eriluis Vaz astride the ‘feel-good story horse’ of what will be a $1,000,000 multi-national showdown of strategy of Napoleonic proportions.
As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In, the Arlington Million winner will receive an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf with pre-entry and entry fees waived plus a travel stipend to the race to be held on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
WGN-TV will televise the Arlington Million live in an hour-long broadcast that begins at 5 p.m. Central time. HorseRacingTV (HRTV) and the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will broadcast the race as well.
The Arlington Million is the centerpiece of Arlington’s International Festival of Racing which also includes the Grade I Beverly D., the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes and the Listed $400,000 American St. Leger. The Arlington Million is part of a 50-cent Pick 4 wager with a $200,000 guaranteed pool as well as part of a 50-cent Pick 5 wager with a $100,000 guaranteed pool and a takeout rate of just 15 percent.