Although originally penciled in as more likely for the inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger Stakes during Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing, Colombian, like his trainer, is of a somewhat versatile nature. In his first start this year, Colombian won the Group III Sir Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown at the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Arlington Million. In his last start of 2011, the Irish-bred colt won the listed Grand Prix du Nord Stakes at Longchamp when going the 1 5/8-mile distance. The American St. Leger will be contested at one mile and 11/16ths.
Other European-based horses still being considered for Arlington Million XXX include the Irish-bred Crackerjack King, owned by Effevi SNC di Villa Felice Anco and trained by Marco Botti. The gray colt by Shamardal won Italy’s Group I Premio Presidente della Repubblica May 13 and most recently was fifth in Great Britain’s Group I Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown July 7.
Mark Hawtin’s Wigmore Hall, fourth in last summer’s Million and runner-up in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day two years ago, is likely at this time for another try for the Arlington Million winner’s circle, and the British-bred Afsare, owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and trained by Luca Cumani, also appears Arlington Million-bound after winning Sandown’s listed Ambant Gala Stakes July 6.
P and G Stable and Off the Hook LLC’s Turbo Compressor, hero of Monmouth’s Grade I United Nations Stakes July 7, conditioned by five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, might be a strong possibility among the American-based Million candidates, as might Robert Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada and Phipps Stable’s Boisterous, first and second respectively in the Grade III Arlington Handicap July 14.
An Irish-bred filly named Beatrice Aurore, owned by Benny Andersson and trained by John Dunlop, was the winner of France’s Group III Prix Chloe at Chantilly last summer and is now considered likely to be a European-based candidate for the 22nd renewal of the Grade I Beverly D. as the Arlington Million’s sister race.
The daughter of Danehill Dancer out of a Rainbow Quest mare finished fifth at last asking, beaten less than three lengths for the win in Royal Ascot’s Group II Windsor Forest Stakes June 20, but she remains especially intriguing because her owner was originally one of the four members of the Swedish pop-rock group ABBA, which sold more than 370 million records during its existence from 1972-1982.
Joining Beatrice Aurore among European-based candidates for the $750,000 Beverly D. are the British-bred filly Joviality, owned by Princess Haya and trained by the ubiquitous John Gosden, and the Irish-bred mare I’m A Dreamer, owned by St. Albans Bloodstock LLP and trained by David Simcock. The former was the victress in the Group II Windsor Forest during Royal Ascot and the latter captured Newmarket’s Group III Dahlia Stakes in 2011.
American members of the distaff set likely for the Beverly D. include Frank Calabrese’s Romacaca and Stone Farm et al.’s Upperline, first and second respectively in the Grade III Modesty Handicap at Arlington on Million Preview Day July 14.
However, the inaugural running of the $400,000 American St. Leger Stakes on Arlington Million Day has also attracted the interest of European horsemen, and not surprisingly in exemplary fashion. Patterned after Great Britain’s Group I St Leger, third leg of the English Triple Crown and a classic inaugurated in 1776 – the same year as the United States of America’s Independence – the St Leger will be run at Doncaster on Sept. 15 and could produce England’s first Triple Crown winner since 1970 should Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and John Magnier’s Camelot be the victor.
European-based horses under consideration for the American St. Leger – a race that is sure to be a graded affair as soon as it becomes eligible – are headed by internationally prominent American-born owner George Strawbridge Jr.’s Aiken, winner of France’s Group II Grand Prix de Chantilly June 3. More recently, Aiken was fourth behind Khalid Abdullah’s Sea Moon in Royal Ascot’s Group II Hardewicke Stakes June 23.
Other European-based runners under consideration for the American St. Leger include Crone Stud Farms Ltd.’s Irish-bred Ithoughtitwasover, a winner of a pair of listed stakes last May; the Irish-bred Jakkalberry, owned by Jakkalberry et al. and fifth in the Hardewicke; the British-bred Ed de Gas, owned by Mr. R. A. Pegum and Dr. C. G. Lawler and third in Royal Ascot’s Group III Queen’s Vase June 23; Eastwind Racing Ltd. and Martha Trussell’s Bridge of Gold, twice Group III stakes-placed in recent outings; and Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Irish-bred Distant Memories, winner of Windsor’s Group III Winter Hill Stakes two years ago.
American-based American St. Leger possibilities are headed by Team Block’s Ioya Bigtime and Stella Perdomo’s Canadian-based Musketier, who finished first and second respectively a neck apart in Arlington’s Grade III Stars and Stripes July 14.
British trainer John Gosden and Irish conditioner Aidan O’Brien are both expected to have contestants in Arlington’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes, although neither has showed their hand in more detail.
American-based possibilities for the Secretariat include any number of horses trained by Dale Romans that include Albaugh Family Stable’s Grade III American Derby winner Cozzetti and Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ Grade II Virginia Derby hero Silver Max on June 21.
Another American-based Secretariat possible starter is the Team Valor International-owned Irish-bred colt Lucky Chappy, second in the Virginia Derby. That colt is trained by Graham Motion.