Chad Brown’s Bricks and Mortar & Robert Bruce
Bricks and Mortar enters Saturday’s 37th running of the Arlington Million (G1) as the horse to beat and his main rival, stablemate Robert Bruce, will be making a title defense. The Chad Brown-trained turf stars highlight a field of 10 in the 1 ¼-mile turf affair, the centerpiece of the Arlington International Festival of Racing that also features the Beverly D. (G1) and Secretariat (G1).
After tying Hall of Famers Ron McAnally and Charlie Whittingham last year, Brown can earn a record fourth Million victory. The first came via Real Solution, who was placed first by the stewards after a disqualification in 2013, and Brown will seek a third straight following tallies by Beach Patrol and Robert Bruce the last two years.
A winner of five consecutive races, Bricks and Mortar opened 2019 with a 2 ½-length triumph in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1). The five-year-old horse followed with a game score in the Mervin Muniz Memorial (G2) and then rallied to win the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Bricks and Mortar most recently defeated Robert Bruce by 1 ½ lengths when taking the Manhattan (G1) on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard.
Saturday marks his first attempt on Arlington’s turf but Bricks and Mortar has already won over five different courses. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount.
Robert Bruce comes next on the morning line at 5-2. A multiple champion in Chile before shipping stateside, the five-year-old horse closed fast to win last year’s Million by a half-length and will be making his third start off a lengthy layoff Saturday. Robert Bruce found his best stride too late in the Manhattan but finished with a flourish, and he’ll add the services of Javier Castellano.
Hunting Horn will make his third trip to America this year for leading Irish trainer and two-time Million winner Aidan O’Brien. A close fourth in the May 11 Man o’ War (G1) at Belmont Park four starts back, the four-year-old colt should appreciate the class relief after squaring off against the likes of Enable and Crystal Ocean in his last three outings. Hunting Hard wheels back on only two weeks rest after posting a respectable fifth in the star-studded King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot and Ryan Moore will take over the reins.
O’Brien also has the English Group 2-winning filly Magic Wand, who is cross-entered to the Beverly D. She fits on back class but the Beverly D. for turf distaffers may be a more realistic placing after finishing last by 50 lengths in the King George. Wayne Lordan will ride in either spot.
French Group 1 victor Intellogent rates as a dangerous European invader for Fabrice Chappet. Last seen finishing a close fourth in the May 26 Prix d’Ispahan (G1) at Longchamp, the four-year-old will pick up Florent Geroux. Pivoine, who exits a handicap win at York on July 13, completes the European contingent. Silvestre De Sousa will be in to ride for Andrew Balding.
The top three from the local prep, the July 13 Arlington H. (G3), are all back for the Million. Bandua has been pegged as the 6-1 fourth choice on the morning line after rolling to a near two-length decision. Third in last year’s Secretariat, the Jack Sisterson trainee should be forwardly-placed from his outside post with Adam Beschizza.
The Great Day and Captivating Moon finished second and third, respectively. Trevor McCarthy takes over aboard The Great Day for Arnaud Delacour. The Chris Block-trained Captivating Moon receives a rider switch to Jose Valdivia Jr. Catcho En Die, who has been no factor in three stakes appearances this year, completes the field.