Sulamani with David Flores up, winner of the 2003 Arlington Million.
The 21st renewal of the Grade 1 Arlington Million was run at Arlington Park on Saturday. A field of 13 faced the starter including Godolphin runner Sulamani, Charlie Whittingham Handicap winner Storming Home, and Stephen Foster Handicap winner Perfect Drift. With a large, wide-open field entered, Storming Home was sent off as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite, with Sulamani at just under 3-1 and Perfect Drift at almost 4-1.
When the field got underway, jockey Eddie Ahern sent 89-1 longshot Beauchamp Pilot to the front to lead the procession by about a length ahead of stalker The Tin Man during the first mile, through fractions of 24.22, 49.11, 1:13.43, and 1:37.77 over a course rated good. Favored Storming Home was far back early, in 12th after the half, while Sulamani stayed up close in mid pack.
Entering the far turn, jockey Gary Stevens turned Storming Home loose. Rallying four wide on the turn them splitting horses at the top of the stretch, he charged up to the front inside the 1/8 pole, but in the final strides, appeared to duck away from something in the infield, veering sharply to the right interfering with two late chargers, Paolini and Kaieteur, and dumping Stevens in the process but still finishing in front, in a final time of 2:02.29 for the 1 1/4 mile event. Sulamani made his move in mid stretch but could not get past Storming Home, losing by 1/2 a length. Just a head back of Sulamani were Paolini and Kaieteur, who dead-heated for third place. Gary Stevens was conscious as he was carried off on a stretcher but was very sore and taken to the hospital for observation. He said his shoulder had been stepped on, but results of x-rays were not available yet.
Head on view of the incident at the finish of the Arlington Million. (will replay after 6 seconds)
The jockeys of the two third-place horses claimed foul against Storming Home along with the stewards' inquiry, and Storming Home was disqualified and placed fourth, handing the victory over to Sulamani. The win is historic in that it is Godolphin Racing's 100th Group or Grade 1 win. Racing manager Simon Crisford said, "Having won 100 Group 1 races on three different continents, in 11 countries over 10 years has been quite an accomplishment by Godolphin Stable. However, we would have much preferred not to have won in this manner. It was a shame that Storming Home could not keep the victory."
Full Chart race 10
Winning jockey David Flores said, "I was told to put him in the race, save ground and make a run the last half mile. I had to go around and circle the field. He came very well at the end. He performed really, really well and I got beat right there. What happened with the other horse (Storming Home) had nothing to do with me. I just got lucky to get put up."
Jockey Rene Douglas aboard Kaieteur, dead-heated for third but placed second, said, "(Storming Home) spooked from something. How is Gary (fallen jockey Stevens)? Is he okay? I only missed him by inches. It was very lucky that I was able to avoid him. (About the objection) It wasn't his (Stevens) fault but it cost me. He definitely bothered me. I had to do something. It was a million dollar race."
Andreas Suborics, aboard Paolini, said, "I got bumped really bad at the start. I had a beautiful run on the backstretch and I had good position on the turn to the straight. I was still in second the last 20 yards before the winner came over and I think it cost me the second place."
Heat Haze with Jose Valdivia up, winner of the 2003 Beverly D.
21-1 longest shot Bien Nicole made all the running early, leading the procession over the first mile through fractions of 25.04, 49.78, 1:13.68, and 1:38.04. 2-1 second choice Dublino stalked her the whole way, while the favorite trailed the field in last while saving ground along the rail. Entering the stretch, jockey Jose Valdivia angled Heat Haze out four wide for the drive, needing running room as they were blocked behind a wall of horses. When the field straightened out, Heat Haze split horses and inside the final furlong, drew clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Bien Nicole in a time of 1:55.94. It was another 1/2 length back to 7-1 shot Riskaverse, while Dublino faded to fifth.
Heat Haze in the winner's circle.
Winning jockey Jose Valdivia said, "She was very relaxed. At the 3/8 pole, I knew I had a horse under me. She has an enormous turn of foot. After she switched leads, I saw the opening, just tapped her twice with the stick and she was gone."
Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, of 2nd place finisher Bien Nicole said, "We're thrilled. You'd like to win but I don't know how we could have run any better. These are best turf mares in the world. To be second, we're thrilled. Don (jockey Pettinger) did what he you have to try to do (be on the lead) in a deal like that."
The nightcap was the Secretariat Stakes for three year olds over the Million distance of 1 1/4 miles. A wide-open field of twelve entered the starting gate, including lukewarm 3-1 favorite Just Wonder.
Longshot Native Hawk led the procession through the first mile, with respectable fractions of 24.24, 49.31, 1:14.19, and 1:38.87. Fellow longshots Gato Gato Gato and Kicken Kris stalked him during the first lap around the course. Turning for home, Gato Gato Gato was finished and he faded to an eventual last place finish. Native Hawk also could not sustain his quick pace and faded to seventh. Kicken Kris, however, inherited the lead and held off the late rush of 20-1 shot Joe Bear by 3 1/2 lengths for the win, in a time of 2:02.53, just a tick slower than the Million. It was another 2 lengths back to 5-1 shot Lismore Knight, while favored Just Wonder didn't have it today, trailing the field early and showing no rally finishing 10th.
Kicken Kris with Javier Castellano up, winner of the 2003 Secretariat Stakes.
Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "Today he broke sharp out of the gate and I rode him comfortable and confident and I knew I had the horse today. I handicapped the horses before the race and I saw the speed horses on the outside. I knew what I had to do was cover up behind those horses."
David Flores, aboard 2nd place finisher Joe Bear, said, "I was looking to be a couple of lengths off the lead at the start and I had a pretty good trip. He did really well." Trainer Philip Mitchell added, "It was a great run. He's a baby. And next year, he'll be a very big horse. I promise you."
Rene Douglas, aboard 3rd place finisher Lismore Knight, said, "I had a good trip. It was a slow pace. A hole opened up for me turning for home and I thought I had a chance but my horse didn't accelerate quickly enough so they got away from me. I was just beaten by better horses."
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