May 24, 2019

Oscar Performance tops pre-entries for Arlington Million; 10 in Beverly D., 14 in Secretariat

Oscar Performance sped home under jockey Jose Ortiz to take his seasonal debut in the Poker Stakes (G3) in a new Widener course record time of 1:31.23 at Belmont Park on Sunday, June 17, 2018 (c) NYRA/Elsa Lorieul/Adam Coglianese Photography

The fields are crystallizing for the August 11 International Festival of Racing, with Arlington announcing the pre-entries received by Friday’s deadline for the Arlington Million (G1), Beverly D. (G1), and Secretariat (G1).

A maximum of 11 will line up in the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Topping the list is Oscar Performance, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) star who boasts a course-and-distance victory in last summer’s Secretariat and a Belmont track record-smasher in the Poker (G3) last out.

Three international shippers are pre-entered in the Million. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Grade 1 veteran Deauville, third in the past two runnings, hopes that his third trip to Arlington is the proverbial charm, while Diomed (G3) winner Century Dream represents Simon Crisford, and former Italian highweight Circus Couture looks to step up for Jane Chapple-Hyam.

Chad Brown is triple-handed with 2017 Gulfstream Park Turf (1) hero Almanaar; two-time Monmouth (G2) scorer Money Multiplier, runner-up in the United Nations (G1) to prolong his status as a bridesmaid at the highest level; and Robert Bruce, the hitherto unbeaten Chilean celebrity who was sixth in a blanket finish to the Manhattan (G1), just a length behind upsetter Spring Quality from the Graham Motion barn.

Multiple Grade 1 winner Divisidero, successful in the Arlington H. (G3) on Ride to the Million Day, has also been under consideration for the one-mile Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga on August 11, the same day as the Arlington Million. Argentine import Catcho En Die likewise scored on Ride to the Million Day, in the 1 1/2-mile Stars and Stripes (G3). Rounding out the field is Twenty Four Seven, sixth to Divisidero in the Arlington ‘Cap.

Brown has four of the 10 distaffers pre-entered in the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D., a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) – Sistercharlie, winner of the Jenny Wiley (G1) back in April and the Diana (G1) in her latest; Fourstar Crook, who upstaged Sistercharlie in the New York (G2); Canadian classic victress Inflexibility, exiting a second in the Dance Smartly (G2); and multiple French Group 3-placed stakes scorer Thais, most recently sixth in the Perfect Sting.

O’Brien counters with three-year-old Athena, fresh off her breakthrough conquest of the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1). The only other internationally-based pre-entrant is Mark Johnston’s Nyaleti, the German 1000 Guineas (G2) queen who was a distant fourth in the Falmouth (G1).

Argentine champion Dona Bruja, a dead-heat second in last year’s Beverly D. favorite, has not raced since her fifth to Sistercharlie in the Jenny Wiley. Grade 1 vixen Daddys Lil Darling comes off a convincing win in the Modesty (G3) on Ride to the Million Day over Prado’s Sweet Ride, who was runner-up to Dona Bruja in the same course-and-distance prep in 2017. Modesty fifth Oh So Terrible is game to try again.

The Secretariat could feature as many as 14 sophomores, led by Brown’s Analyze It and O’Brien’s Hunting Horn, the respective second and third in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1).

Hunting Horn is one of five Secretariat hopefuls set to fly in from Ireland. O’Brien has another contender in Lucius Tiberius, taking a class hike off a pair of handicap scores. Jockey-turned-trainer Joseph O’Brien joins his father by pre-entering Ming, likewise climbing the ranks off two wins. Gallinule (G3) hero Platinum Warrior and Dermot Weld’s sometime Belmont (G1) candidate Bandua were both unplaced in the Irish Derby (G1).

Untamed Domain, second to Mendelssohn in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, suffered costly interference when elevated to fifth in the July 14 Kent (G3), two spots behind third-placer Carrick. The superfecta from the American Derby (G3) on Ride to the Million Day – Real Story, Captivating Moon, Dubby Dubbie, and Pont Du Gard – are on course to renew rivalry. Mystic Lake Derby winner Sniper Kitten and speedy claimer Linburgh’s Kitten are fellow Ramsey homebreds from the Mike Maker barn.

Entries for the Million, Beverly D., and Secretariat will be finalized on Tuesday, and the rest of the International Festival of Racing program, including the Pucker Up (G3) and the Bruce D. Memorial, will be drawn Wednesday.