The race formerly known as the Arlington Million witnessed one of the biggest upsets in its history Saturday, when 27-1 longshot Two Emmys denied 2-5 favorite Domestic Spending in the $600,000 Mister D. (G1).
Jockey James Graham turned in a masterclass aboard the lone speed, who had placed in both prior stakes attempts. The first Grade 1 winner for trainer and co-owner Hugh Robertson, Two Emmys was scoring a poignant victory for the home team as one of only two Arlington-based runners in the track’s storied event.
The other local contestant, Bizzee Channel, had beaten Two Emmys in their last two starts, including a hard-fought Arlington S. (G3) on Million Preview Day July 17. In their Mister D. rematch, Bizzee Channel stumbled at the break, and Two Emmys got away with an even slower pace.
The scratch of potential pace factor Big Dreaming was key to the race shape. In his absence, Two Emmys strolled through splits of :26.12, :52.43, and 1:16.64 on the good turf. Bizzee Channel made a rapid recovery to stalk, and drew to within a half-length of the leader by the mile mark in 1:40.62.
But Two Emmys had been given far too much rope. Graham cleverly set him down spinning out of the turn. That gambit was decisive, for it gained him a 3 1/2-length cushion by midstretch – and he needed every yard of it when Domestic Spending came after him.
Always within striking range early, Domestic Spending unleashed his ferocious turn of foot and nearly erased the deficit. Yet Two Emmys made himself uncatchable by throwing down a final quarter in :22.72, and Domestic Spending’s desperate rally came up a neck short.
The 38.90-1 Glynn County checked in another 2 3/4 lengths back in third. British import Space Traveller, last through the opening mile, made good headway late to snatch fourth from Bizzee Channel.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Armory, who was held up perhaps further back than expected, soldiered on in sixth. Grade 1 veteran Zulu Alpha looked a shadow of himself in a distant seventh, beating only the 96.90-1 no-hoper Strong Tide. Locally-based Another Mystery scratched and instead captured the nightcap, the Black Tie Affair for Illinois-breds.
Two Emmys paid $56.20 after negotiating 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.34. The chestnut has furnished a windfall for owners Wolfe Racing and Robertson, who bought him for a mere $4,500 as a Keeneland September yearling. He’s now bankrolled $545,708 from his 16-4-7-0 line, with the promise of more to come from the five-year-old gelding.
A June 4 foal, Two Emmys climbed the class ladder from a $20,000 maiden claiming win on Arlington’s Polytrack in the summer of 2019. He has also tried dirt twice, notably placing second to By My Standards in a Fair Grounds allowance in early 2020. But he’s spent most of his time on turf.
At the historic New Orleans venue this season, Two Emmys upstaged the well-fancied import Darain in a second-level allowance and finished runner-up to Colonel Liam in the March 20 Muniz Memorial Classic (G2). He resumed from a three-month freshening in an Arlington allowance, where he was a clear second to Bizzee Channel, and put up a stiffer fight in the Arlington S. The Mister D. was his third start off the layoff.
Two Emmys is the second Million/Mister D. winner sired by turf champ English Channel, after fan favorite The Pizza Man (2015). Bred by Tottenwood Thoroughbreds in Kentucky, Two Emmys is out of the Buddha mare Miss Emmy from the family of 2014 Travers (G1) hero V E Day. His second dam, Our Dear Sue, is a full sister to champion Sunshine Forever, belonging to the stellar tribe of Brian’s Time, Dynaformer, and Memories of Silver (dam of Winter Memories).