IRISH EYES FOCUS ON BALLYROAN STAKES AT LEOPARDSTOWN THURSDAY

British-bred Arlington Million candidate Treasure Beach, owned by Mrs. Fitriani Hay, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, is scheduled to go to the post in Ireland’s Group III Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown Thursday evening in a final tune-up for the 30th anniversary edition of the upcoming Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 18.

Adrian Beaumont of the Newmarket-based International Racing Bureau advised Arlington racing officials that Treasure Beach is training well and that Thursday’s run is to serve as a preparation the Million, and that unless he runs poorly he remains “all systems go” for Chicago’s traditional showcase Thoroughbred race.

Treasure Beach, hero of last summer’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes during Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing could join Michael Tabor’s Marlin and Brushwood Stable’s Kicken Kris as the third horse in history to win the Secretariat and the Million in successive seasons.

Ryehill Farm’s Awad won the 1993 Secretariat and returned two years later to capture the Arlington Million in 1995.

Also scheduled for a run in Thursday’s Ballyroan is Dr. Ronan Lambe’s Irish-bred Galileo’s Choice, who remains a candidate for the inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger Stakes at Arlington Aug. 18.

The Arlington Million is run at a mile and a quarter over the suburban Chicago oval’s world famous turf course, and the American St. Leger is to be contested at a mile and 11/16ths over that same local lawn.

The Ballyroan has been run at a mile and a half since 1995 and received its Group III status in 2007.

Moyglare Stud Farm Ltd.’s Irish-bred Sense of Purpose, another candidate for Arlington’s inaugural American St. Leger, captured the Ballyroan last summer.


FIRES FIRMING UP FOR ARLINGTON’S 3RD JOCKEY LEGENDS RACE AUG. 17

Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington’s all-time leading rider, continues galloping horses each morning during training hours in preparation for Arlington’s upcoming jockey challenge Aug. 17 that will match five retired riders against Arlington’s top five active jockeys.

“I got on several horses this morning,” said Fires during training hours Thursday. “I’m getting pretty fit now. I started getting on one horse a morning a little over a week ago but I’m picking up the pace now.”

Fires, 65, retired as an active rider at Arlington on Sept. 21, 2008, but finished second to active rider Inez Karlsson in Arlington’s first riding legends race two years ago and was the runner-up once again in last summer’s renewal behind Arlington’s 2009 jockey champion Junior Alvarado.

“I probably should have won that race last year, but I don’t think I was quite fit enough,” said Fires Thursday. “Two years ago, I just didn’t have enough horse under me.”

Although born in Rivervale, Arkansas, Fires has made his home in Palatine for most of his career as well as in the years since his retirement. He retired with 6,470 career wins with 2,886 of those coming at Arlington. He won riding titles at Arlington in 1966, ’69, ’75, ’79, ’83 and ’84.

Arlington’s top five active riders entering Thursday’s races are almost certain to remain the top five by the time of the upcoming jockey challenge.

Current leading rider Francisco Torres became the first local rider to reach the 60-win mark last Sunday with a win aboard Sugar Daddy Stable’s Toast With Honey in the third race of the day.

Current runner-up and Arlington’s defending jockey champion James Graham had 57 wins after taking Sunday’s opener on Curt Gielow’s Distant Bugle.

Third-place rider Rosemary Homeister Jr. had a pair of winners Sunday sweeping the late daily double on Charles Middleton III’s Affair Dabbler and Equiforce Inc.’s Baba Lucy.

Fourth-place rider Seth Martinez was shut out Sunday, but remains one win in front of jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, who won three successive races Sunday with Mark Detampel’s Isle of Skye, Timothy Keeley’s Sara’s Cape, and GDK Stables’ Chase the Weasel.