The 21st Arlington Million had a chaotic and almost tragic ending. But when everything had been sorted out, the race can be counted as further evidence that the European contingent is dominant on the turf this year.
Storming Home was first under the wire in the key prep for this fall's $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf, less than 1 length ahead of three European invaders. Unfortunately, Storming Home was going sideways across the track at the time, apparently shying from something on his inside.
After crossing the paths of Paolini and Kaieteur, Storming Home unseated jockey Gary Stevens just after the finish. Stevens, a star in the recent movie "Seabiscuit," then caught Kaieteur's hoof on his left shoulder and lay on the track briefly before being removed on a stretcher.
The stewards watched the film, consulted and rearranged the order of finish, moving Sulamani up to the win and placing Paolini and Kaieteur in a dead-heat for place and show. To a rousing chorus of boos from some 28,000 fans at Arlington Park, Storming Home was demoted to fourth.
Sulamani, already ranked No. 2 in the Turf Division behind Alamshar before the Million, is based in England and owned by Godolphin Racing. Storming Home, who moved to California from England after last season, was the only North American in the top 10 in the division, tied for No. 7. Kaieteur and Paolini also shipped across the Atlantic to contest the Million.
Jockey David Flores, subbing for Frankie Dettori aboard Sulamani, said his mount "performed really, really well" after circling the field to get into contention. "What happened with the other horse had nothing to do with me," Flores said. "I just got lucky to get put up."
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said Sulamani "ran a big race. I'm happy with the way he ran. It was just a little too short for him." And Simon Crisford, racing manager for Dubai-based Godolphin, welcomed the victory but added, "We would have much preferred not to have won in this manner."
Stevens was taken to Northwest Community Hospital for X-rays but was alert and inquiring about the outcome of the race. He remained in the hospital Sunday, reportedly being treated for a collapsed lung.
In Arlington's $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds, Kicken Kris seized the lead at the top of the stretch and raced clear to win by 3 1/2 lengths over European longshot Joe Bear. Lismore Knight was third while the favorite, Just Wonder, struggled home 10th of 11 starters. Kicken Kris, a Kentucky-bred son of Jade Hunter, ran the 1 1/4 mile in 2:02.53. "It looks like the horse's true talent is on the turf and he showed it today," said winning trainer Michael Matz. Philip Mitchell, who trains Joe Bear, said his horse "is a baby. And next year, he'll be a very big horse, I promise you."
In other weekend races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Oct. 25 at Santa Anita:
$1 million Filly & Mare Turf
Bien Nicole set a very leisurely pace in Saturday's $700,000 Beverly D. at Arlington Park, but even with that advantage, couldn't withstand the late run of Heat Haze. Heat Haze, from the powerhouse stable of trainer Bobby Frankel, got by in the final sixteenth to win by 1 1/4 length. Riskaverse raced evenly to finish third. Frankel assistant Humberto Ascanio said jockey Jose Valdiva Jr. "had a lot of confidence in this filly and, obviously, the filly has a lot of confidence in him. She might be the best turf filly in our barn right now." Heat Haze, a British-bred, 4-year-old daughter of Green Desert, ran the 1 3/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:55.94. Frankel originally also planned to run Tates Creek in the Beverly D. but couldn't work out the shipping from California. Tates Creek was ranked No. 1 in the division before weekend action while Heat Haze likely will move into the top 10 in the next revision.
Sand Springs opened up a huge lead in Sunday's $150,000 Lake Placid Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga, then held on to win by 3/4 length over Indy Five Hundred. Film Maker was just a nose farther back in third. Sand Springs, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Dynaformer, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:49.03. "She handled everything well and seemed to find some more energy late," said winning trainer Tony Reinstedler. He said he will try Sand Springs in the Garden City Breeders' Cup on Sept. 7.
Volga had to swing out for running room in the stretch but still had enough to win Sunday's $100,000 Matchmaker Handicap for fillies and mares at Monmouth Park by 1 3/4 lengths over Something Ventured. Cocktailsandreams was third. Volga, an Irish-bred mare by Caerleon, ran 9 furlongs on the grass in 1:48.22 with Joe Bravo in the irons. Christophe Clement trains the 5-year-old, who finished fifth in the Filly & Mare Turf two years ago.
$2 million Nextel Distaff
Spoken Fur was the odds-on favorite in Saturday's $750,000 Alabama Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga and a $2 million bonus awaited her owners if she completed the New York "triple tiara" with a victory. Instead, it was Island Fashion who stormed down the stretch, drawing off easily to win by 6 lengths. Awesome Humor was second and Spoken Fur finished third. Island Fashion, a daughter of Petionville, ran 10 furlongs on a fast track in an unhurried 2:05.08. Trainer Barclay Tagg said jockey John Velazquez "rode her perfectly. When she was ready to run, he let her go and she went on and did the job." Jerry Bailey, who rode Spoken Fur, said his filly didn't run much after the first turn. "I wanted to creep up on the leaders but I had no horse," he said.
$4 million Classic
Puzzlement, with Jorge Chavez up, raced from last in a field of eight to win Saturday's $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap by 3 1/4 lengths over defending Classic champ Volponi. Iron Deputy was third. Puzzlement, a 4-year-old son of Pine Bluff, ran 1 1/4 mile in 2:03.54. Puzzlement, who was winless in four previous starts this year, was coming off a good fourth-place finish in the Whitney. Volponi now has finished second five straight times since his victory in last year's Classic at Arlington Park. "He's a nice horse at any other track," said Chavez. "But I really think he picks up his game at Saratoga." Trainer H. Allen Jerkens said he will consider the Woodward at Belmont Park on Sept. 6 "if he does real well and he's feeling real well."
$1 million NetJets Mile (turf)
Singletary led from gate to wire in winning Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds at Del Mar. Atoning for a second-place finish in the Oceanside in his last outing, Singletary got home 1/2 length ahead of Devious Boy, with Senor Swinger third as the pari-mutuel favorite. Singletary, a son of Sultry Song, finished the 1 1/16 mile in stakes-record time of 1:40 1/5. "He was just cruisin' up there," said winning rider Patrick Valenzuela. "I got away with a :47 half and if this horse gets a :47, he can run away from anybody." Trainer Donald Chatlos said he was glad he decided to run at home rather than shipping to the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington because Singletary doesn't like the softer turf. "The Del Mar Derby will be next," he added.
Soaring Free did just that as the field hit the stretch run in Saturday's $165,000 (Canadian) Play The King Stakes at Woodbine, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over pace-setter Jeb's Wild. Frank's Selection was third. Soaring Free now has won all five of his starts this year, including three stakes. He finished the 7 furlongs over a turf course rated "yielding" in 1:23.52. Trainer Mark Frostad said the outcome bodes well for the $1 million (Canadian) Atto Mile on Sept. 14. "I think he'll be pretty tough," Frostad said. "The more seasoning they get, the smarter they get. He's used to winning now and I think he kind of likes that."
At Deauville in France, filly Six Perfections took the lead with a furlong to run in Sunday's Group 1 Prix Jacques de Marois and held on to beat Domedriver by a neck. Telognosis, a Japanese invader, was third and Godolphin's highly regarded Dubai Destination could do no better than fifth. Six Perfections, with Thierry Thulliez up, ran the 1 mile on a straight course in 1:38 3/5 over turf rated good to soft. Domedriver upset Rock of Gibraltar in last year's Mile at Arlington Park.
$1 million Sprint
Disturbingthepeace won Sunday's $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar by 2 lengths over Rushin' to Altar. Full Moon Madness was third. The 7 furlongs took 1:21 2/5. Disturbingthepeace also won the O'Brien last year but was winless in six starts since then. Trainer Darrell Vienna said the horse lost a shoe coming out of the gate in his last start, the Bing Crosby Handicap on July 26. "This looks more like the horse we were running last year," he added. Winning jockey Victor Espinoza said Disturbingthepeace is improving but, asked about the Breeders' Cup, he said, "Oh, you don't know. You've just got to take them one race at a time."
$1.5 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
Cuvee popped the cork on seven rivals, including pari-mutuel favorite Pomeroy, in Wednesday's $150,000 Saratoga Special, drawing off in the lane to win by 7 1/2 lengths. Pomeroy was second with Limehouse third. Cuvee, a son of Carson City, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs under Jerry Bailey in 1:15.97 on a sloppy track. Trainer Steve Asmussen said he will think about the Futurity at Belmont Park on Sept. 14.
Cactus Ridge dominated eight rivals in Sunday's $100,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park, drawing off to win by 6 1/2 lengths over Proper Prado. Lightnin N Thunder was third. Cactus Ridge, a Kentucky-bred Hennessy colt, ran 7 furlongs in 1:23.02. He now is undefeated in three starts after previous wins at Arlington and Canterbury.
Trainer Mel Stute paid just $4,700 for Perfect Moon at a Maryland yearling sale. Good buy. The son of Malibu Moon wore down Capitano to win Sunday's $150,000 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar by 1 1/4 lengths. He now has three wins in seven starts and winnings of $183,870. "Imagine what he'd do if he got one of those million-dollar horses," winning rider Patrick Valenzuela said of Stute. Stute, meanwhile, said he thinks, "The farther he goes, the better he's going to be."
At Woodbine in Canada, Twisted Wit made up some 4 lengths in the stretch to catch Stormthebarricade and went on to win Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian) Vandal Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths. Executive Willie was third. Twisted Wit, with David Clark up, finished in 1:13.37.
$1 million Juvenile Fillies
Whoopi Cat bobbled at the start, then recovered and caught pace-setting Unbridled Beauty in deep stretch to win Monday's Adirondak Stakes at Saratoga by 1 1/4 length. Eye Dazzler was third. Whoopi Cat, with Edgar Prado up, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:17.51. "To run this type of race this early in the year proves that she is a very good horse," Prado said of the Tale of the Cat filly. Trainer Patrick Biancone said he may pass on the Spinaway and wait for the Frizette at Belmont on Oct. 4.
Sweet Jo Jo got the lead at the quarter pole in Saturday's $100,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park and extended her advantage through the stretch, beating favorite Renaissance Lady by 3 lengths. Cedar Summer was third. Sweet Jo Jo, a Florida-bred daughter of Grand Slam out of the Wild Again mare Wild Decision, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:25.09. She is trained by Steve Asmussen. D. Wayne Lukas conditions Renaissance Lady for Bob and Beverly Lewis.
In other weekend racing:
Puffer scored a 1/2-length victory over Hard Edge in Saturday's $100,000 With Approval Stakes but only after dueling fiercely down the lane. Puffer, a son of Sky Classic, finished in 1:51.58 over the "yielding" E.P. Taylor turf course.
Calder Race Course
Built Up chased Swift Replica down the stretch in Saturday's $75,000 Groomstick Handicap before winning by a neck in the final jumps. Lavendar's Lad was third. Built Up, a 5-year-old Homebuilder gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.40. Both trainer Enrique Alonzo and jockey Manuel Aguilar said the key to victory was getting Built Up outside his rival after breaking from post No. 2. "He doesn't like it inside," Aguilar explained. Alonzo said he will try to keep the gelding sprinting.
Highway Prospector saved ground in mid-pack through the early stages of Saturday's $75,000 Donald LeVine Memorial, then worked between horses to the lead and drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Parade of Music was second and Heroofthegame third after leading. Highway Prospector, a 6-year-old Crafty Prospector gelding, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.93.
Pie N Burger ran like a favorite menu combination in Saturday's $75,000 Evangeline Downs Mile. After tracking Compendium through the early furlongs, the 5-year-old Twining gelding put in a bid turning for home, cleared to the lead a furlong out and won off by 6 1/2 lengths. Compendium held second and Walk in the Snow finished third. Pie N Burger finished the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:37 2/5.
Bruanna rallied from a stalking position to win Saturday's $55,000 Honky Star Stakes by 3/4 length over Holiday Runner. Outstanding Info was third. Bruanna, a 5-year-old Housebuster mare, finished the 6 furlongs in 1:11.26 over a wet/fast track.
Loving Lucy took the lead on the backstretch in Sunday's $50,000 Junior Champion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and jetted off to win by 11 3/4 lengths. Wage a Penny was second and Dreamadreamforme was third. Loving Lucy, a Florida-bred daughter of Lycius, ran 1 mile in 1:40.43.
Tangier Sound went quickly to the front in Saturday's $50,000 Klassy Briefcase Stakes for fillies and mares and was never challenged, winning by 4 1/4 lengths over Melody of Colors. Amber's Way was third in the 5-furlong turf sprint, clocked in 55.91 seconds. Tangier Sound is a 4-year-old daughter of Rahy.
Also Saturday, Feisty Bull led most of the way to win the $50,000 Twin Lights Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3/4 length over Sarie Marais. Ladyecho was third. Feisty Bull, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Holy Bull, ran the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.99.
Okie Style showed lots of style in winning Saturday's $50,000 Iowa Stallion Futurity, despite being a little short on credentials. Making just his second career start, Okie Style got to the front and held on for a narrow victory over Plum Sober. The 6 furlongs went in 1:11.48. Trainer Kelly Von Hemel said Okie Style is headed for the Prairie Meadows Freshman on Sept. 6. Of the lack of experience, Von Hemel said, "We wanted to race him about two weeks ago and didn't get in the race. So we just trained him up to it."
Golden Rhythm chased a pair through the early furlongs in Saturday's $50,000 Sangue Handicap for fillies and mares. When the speed quit, she got the lead and then was all out to hold off Due to Win Again by a neck under the wire. Milligram was 1 1/2 lengths farther back in third. Golden Rhythm, a 5-year-old Rhythm mare, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.89.
Perfect Blue rallied into the stretch in Saturday's $60,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes for state-bred, 3-year-old fillies and won by 1 1/2 lengths over A Queen's Smile. Arab Miss finished third. Perfect Blue, a daughter of Perfecting, ran 1 1/16 mile on "soft" grass in 1:48.90.
Spoofin upset Sunday's $50,00 Minnesota Classic Championship, running down Winter Trick with a furlong left. She's Scrumpy won the $40,000 Distaff Classic, Timberwolf Power beat Crocrock by a nose in the $35,000 Sprint Championship, Madam Speaker won the $35,000 Distaff Sprint, and Now Playing was best in a three-horse blanket finish in the $35,000 Turf Championship. Among the youngsters, McKenna Beach scored an 8-length victory in the $50,000 Northern Lights Debutante for 2-year-old fillies and Vasant won the $50,000 Northern Lights Futurity for colts and geldings.
News and notes
Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., Sackatoga Stable and retired New York Daily News turf writer Russ Harris will be honored by the National Turf Writers Association during Breeders' Cup week. Pincay retired April 29 after 38 years of racing and 9,530 winners. He will receive the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing. Sackatoga Stable bought Funny Cide for $75,000 and merrily followed his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The Sackatoga partners will receive the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing. Harris, now 80, still handicaps the races for the Daily News and is writing a book. He will receive the Walter Haight Award for lifetime excellence in turf writing.