The Grade 1 Arlington Million is one of the most prestigious and cherished races in the world. It is the first race in racing history to deliver purse money of at least $1 million with the legendary John Henry annexing the inaugural race in 1981. Recent winners include the likes of Cape Blanco and Gio Ponti. This year, a field of 11, including five European raiders, will compete for the top spot.
#1 Rahystrada (Rahy x Ministrada by Deputy Minister) 8-1: What a salute it would be to the late Rahy if this eight-year-old gelding were to win the Million for the first time in his third try. He finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in his previous attempts. Like in those tries, he enters this year with a last out win which, this year, came in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap. Rahystrada is 5-3-0-0 at Arlington and 6-3-0-1 at the distance. He’s versatile enough to go wire to wire or rally from mid pack. That is an asset that jockey Julien Leparoux will have to utilize to get good position from the rail. Byron Hughes is the trainer.
#2 Boisterous (Distorted Humor x Emanating by Cox’s Ridge) 4-1: It is a tad bit odd to see this one as the favorite despite the fact that he does not own a Grade 1 triumph. Four others in this race can stake that claim and seem more likely to be favored by the public. That said, the Shug McGaughey pupil is no slouch and he loves to finish with a flurry of speed. He has had trouble bearing down against top notch competition though. There are too many appealing options to side with this one at such a low number. Jose Lezcano picks up the mount from Alan Garcia.
#3 Afsare (Dubawi x Jumaireyah by Fairy King) 6-1: First a note on the trainer, Luca Cumani. He is noted as one of the best throughout Europe and has trained an endless list of top horses. Top American conditioner Christophe Clement learned many of the tricks of his trade working as an assistant to Cumani. The talented horseman is shipping in an equine that owns a 7-3-2-0 record at the 1 ¼ miles distance. The gelding is a listed stakes winner, but owns second place finishes in Group 1 & 2 company. Cumani has employed regular stable rider Kieran Fallon to ride this race. Fallon won the Million in 2005 on Powerscourt.
#4 Little Mike (Spanish Steps x Hay Jude by Wavering Monarch) 6-1: Little he is not; this gelding becoming a Grade 1 winner two back when he took the field all the way in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. Speed is his game and he is going to go as far as he can. A discouraging point is that Joe Bravo decided to head to New York to ride in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational instead. Ramon Dominguez picks up the mount, so it isn’t all bad. This is a bit further than he is used to traveling, but if the field allows him to race easily on the lead then he might surprise everyone. Dale Romans trains this gelding whose sire is a full brother to Unbridled’s Song.
#5 Colombian (Azamour x Clodora by Linamix) 8-1: Could not keep up last out against top company that included the likes of So You Think and Carleton House. Three races back he was a Group 3 winner over the likes of Poet and Twice Over. The competition he faces today is probably more similar to the group he beat than the group that beat him. Jockey William Buick won this race two years ago aboard Debussy. He seems as likely a winner as any in this race for the extremely capable John Gosden.
#6 Treasure Beach (Galileo x Honorine by Mark of Esteem) 6-1: Perhaps the best horse in this race, he just hasn’t been himself in recent trips to the track. He looked to have the field over a barrel two back in the Man O’ War at Belmont, but couldn’t pick his feet up in the stretch. Trainer Aidan O’Brien shipped him back home where once again he couldn’t get the job done in the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes. He makes for a tough decision, because you know that trainer Aidan O’Brien hasn’t shipped the 2011 Irish Derby winner here just to play around. Jamie Spencer is in to ride this colt that won the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes just a year ago.
#7 Willcox Inn (Harlan’s Holiday x De Aar by Gone West) 12-1: Last year’s Grade 2 American Derby winner loves it at Arlington Park, a track where he owns a 4-3-0-0 record. He doesn’t seem to appreciate the distance so much, as he failed in last year’s Secretariat Stakes as well as the Hollywood Derby. He enters this race with just a single prep, a win in a one mile allowance optional claiming race. It’s tough to side with him here given so many better options. James Graham rides for Michael Stidham.
#8 Wigmore Hall (High Chaparral x Love And Laughter by Theatrical) 12-1: This one seem to be a different animal when in North America. While his resume across the pond is just so-so, he owns a second place finish to Paddy o’ Prado in the 2010 Secretariat Stakes. The following year he won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine after finishing fourth in this race in which he suffered a terrible trip. Lasix could be the answer; banned overseas, the drug was used in each of his strong North American efforts. He will have lasix again today. Michael Bell trains and the mount goes to the very capable Haley Turner.
#9 Crackerjack King (Shamardal x Claba di San Jore by Barathea) 5-1: Trainer Michael Botti brings what is likely the best member of the European contingent. He owns a career record of 9-7-0-0 with one of his two losses coming last out to the highly touted Nathaniel in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes. His form isn’t as sharp as it might appears because the competition in Italy isn’t nearly as fierce as places like England or France. Despite that, it’s hard to find knocks on a horse like this one. Colm O’Donoghue will be in the irons.
#10 Cherokee Lord (Sir Cherokee x Sequins n’ Lace by Mari’s Book) 30-1: This guy has next to no chance of winning the Arlington Million. He just isn’t fast enough at any point in his races to suggest he could pull off this coup.
#11 Vertiformer (Dynaformer x Tempo West by Rahy) 20-1: It’s tough to get a read on a horse like this one. He is bred in the purple and owns a fair record of 9-4-0-0 on his career. He wasn’t disgraced last out in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap where he rallied for a fourth place finish after a poor beginning. A win could be out of the question, but he could make for a juicy trifecta or superfecta if he can round out one of those tickets.
We will make the Irish bred gelding Wigmore Hall our top selection to win the 2012 Arlington Million. He has proven to have an affinity for racing in North America and is simply a different horse while on lasix. The price projects to be in excess of 10-1 and that is just too much to pass up on with a Grade 1 winner like this guy.