Kent Desormeaux on Kicken Kris (far right) yells at Jamie Spencer on Powerscourt for fouling him after the finish of the Arlington Million.
The stars of the turf division had their chance to shine on Saturday with four Grade 1 races and one Grade 2 contested over the lawn. Three of the races were part of Arlington's International Festival of Racing, including their signature event the $1 million Arlington Million over 1 1/4 miles.
The Million definitely had an international feel, with several shippers from Europe and one from Canada. Sent off as the lukewarm 4-1 favorite in the large field of 13 was Epalo from Germany, winner of the Group 1 Singapore Airlines Cup in May. Second choice at 9-2 was Powerscourt from the powerful barn of owner John Magnier and trainer Aidan O'Brien. He was coming off a three-race losing skid after winning the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup in May.
When the field got underway before a crowd of 30,414, Frankie Dettori sent 9-1 shot Vespone to the front. With 15-1 shot Sabiango just a length off, he took the field through a half in 47.49 and 3/4 in 1:12.04 over the firm course. Favorite Epalo kept in close contention in third, while Powerscourt raced far back in tenth down the backstretch. Turning for home, Vespone dropped out of contention while Sabiango briefly inherited the lead after a mile in 1:36.60. Jockey Jamie Spencer took Powerscourt out wide and he circled the field six wide, gaining ground with every stride early in the stretch. With a furlong to go, Powerscourt angled inward, grabbed the lead at the 1/8 pole, but at about the 1/16 pole under the hard right-handed whip of Spencer, bumped into Epalo who deflected into Kicken Kris on the rail. Kicken Kris recovered from the interference to rally inside but the damage was done. Powerscourt finished 1 1/2 lengths clear of Kicken Kris at the line, in a final time of 2:00.08. It was a length back to 24-1 shot Magistretti in third, and Epalo finished fourth. Jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard Kicken Kris, and Andrasch Starke aboard Epalo claimed foul against Spencer, and after a lengthy deliberation, the stewards disqualified Powerscourt placing him fourth behind Epalo. So, Kicken Kris was declared the winner, Magistretti second, and Epalo third. This was the second year in a row that the Million first place finisher was disqualified.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Kicken Kris Desormeaux 21.40 11.20 6.60 12 Magistretti Prado 25.00 11.60 7 Epalo Starke 4.00 Winning Time: 2:00.08 $2 Exacta 4-12 678.80 $2 Trifecta 4-12-7 7,390.60 $2 Superfecta 4-12-7-10 31,920.40
Winner Kicken Kris at Belmont earlier this year. Winning trainer Michael Matz said, "He's acted for the last four weeks like he came out of the Bowling Green very good. He acted like he was a good horse and he showed it today. I wish I had an answer for his race at Churchill (6th in the Turf Classic), but we were happy the way he turned himself around."
Jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "I lost so much momentum. Lo and behold when he got all four feet on the ground, he re-broke. It was a very, very good performance. He was a deserving winner."
Disqualified winner Powerscourt finishing first. Jockey Jamie Spencer said before the stewards' decision, "I had the best horse. If they (the stewards) take my number down, I think I'll cry." Spencer declined comment after the decision.
Crimson Palace winning the Beverly D.
Winning jockey Frankie Dettori makes his signature jump from Crimson Palace in the winner's cricle. He said, "I think maybe the straight track at Ascot was a bit too much for her. She handled the turns here very well. She was in control and showed a good kick. It's great to get her back to the way she was because she ran a couple of disappointing races back home. A great job by the team to get her back together."
Winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor said, "She's a great filly. When she won the race in England, we knew she was a very tough filly and she came back from that race really well. The last race before we sent her here was disappointing. She showed she had the class to win a Grade or Group I. Well have to see how she comes back, but we'll consider the Breeders' Cup."
Kitten's Joy winner of the Secretariat Stakes.
Winning trainer Dale Romans said, "He's gotten a little better with each start and this was his best yet. I was a little concerned down the backside because it didn't look like he was getting hold of the racetrack but when Jerry swung him out, he had a lot of horse. I thought with this quality of horse that they could go 46 and change (to the half) and keep going, but he just had a big run down the lane. We've been pointing for this race since January. We never really had a plan for after this. We need to find just one race between now and the Breeders' Cup."
Winning jockey Jerry Bailey said, "He settled back off a decent pace and just put them away at ease. It was an amazing turn of foot. Actually, he got there a little too quick because he did goof around when he made the lead but we can adjust to that."
Better Talk Now winner of the Sword Dancer.
Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "That was very great. I felt like I had a lot of horse, but once you get them out, you never know if they're going to respond. When I got him out, he responded so nicely."
Winning trainer H. Graham Motion said, "He's a horse that is not easy to ride. But things are really falling into place lately. I thought the pace was legitimate. I knew the ground had to be very soft. I could see how relaxed our horse was and I knew they wouldn't let Balto Star get away with an easy pace. I felt confident. We're obviously going to have to consider the Man o'War Stakes."
Blackdoun winner of the Ja Jolla Handicap.
Winning jockey Corey Nakatani said, "He hasn't lost a beat. Sometimes with these horses that run in the country for the first time, when they come back they're not the same. But this one is just unbelievable. He's so athletic. We were in close quarters all the way around, but he was relaxed for me. Julio (trainer Canani) said 'Don't change a thing.' So we didn't. I rode him with a lot of confidence. A lot of confidence. He's a special one."
Winning trainer Julio Canani said, "He's a very nice horse. I wasn't going to run in the La Jolla, but he came back from the Oceanside so good, he wanted more. So I took him to the track, he had two easy works and came to the race. I don't want to jinx myself (by comparing him to Ladies Din), but Ladies Din was a super horse. This horse just ran a sixteenth of a mile today. If he comes back in good shape we'll go to the Del Mar Derby and he'll win."
Speightstown winner of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga.
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "This horse has been perfect this year. You could see when he turns for home, that he's wanting in, and that's after flying early. When you talk about equaling track records here, it is pretty serious stuff. He's just so good right now, it's scary. This horse will definitely not run in the Forego. We'll talk to Eugene and Laura (Melnyk, owners) about the Vosburgh or going straight to the Breeders' Cup."
Winning rider John Velazquez said, "I think he is one of the best sprinters in the country. He's done everything right and he's been perfect. You can't complain about that. I was more nervous during the first part of the race to get hooked up and have nothing in the end. Luckily, we got a break in the first and second quarters. At the top of the stretch he was ready. I just shook the reins and he took off."
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