From the Media Team at Arlington Park:
- Robert Bruce Carries Chilean Flag in Arlington Million
- Platinum Warrior Steps Out at Arlington
- Morley Sends Out First Arlington Starter in Secretariat with Carrick
- Connections of The Pizza Man Chase Second Million Victory
ROBERT BRUCE CARRIES CHILEAN FLAG IN ARLINGTON MILLION
Throughout the 37-year history of the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million, a total of ten countries have been represented but the for the first time a horse will be carrying the Chilean banner when Convento Viejo’s Robert Bruce (CHI) contests the prestigious turf event.
The 4-year-old son of Fast Company (ARG) was undefeated in six starts in his native country, which include four Group 1 victories at Club Hippico de Santiago last season. He was the lukewarm favorite in all of those wins, for which the comments section of the past performances read “much the best”. In addition to an undefeated record in his homeland, he also boasts a classy pedigree. His sire Fast Company is the highest ever rated juvenile from the Danehill lineage and sired the likes of 2016 Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Jet Setting. He is out of the Orpen broodmare Lady Pelusa (ARG) who won the Group 1 Las Oaks in Chile in 2010.
“The horse in Chile had a fantastic campaign,” said Luigi D’Alessandri – Bloodstock Advisor to owner Carlos Eugenio Lavín García Huidobro – by phone from Chile. “He never lost a race and won all the big races on the turf (in Chile). He has won going from six furlongs (in his first start) to a mile and a half in his last race (before coming to North America). That is very difficult for a horse to do. I think that for our farm to have bred a horse like this is a fantastic thing.”
Following his impressive campaign in the Southern Hemisphere, Robert Bruce took his talents North to the stable of Chad Brown with whom he won his United States debut in the Grade III Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont Park on May 5. In this event, Robert Bruce sat comfortably along the rail while tracking third off of a slow pace. At the top of the stretch, he angled in between horses and made his winning move under rider Tyler Gaffalione. He captured the Fort Marcy by three-quarters of a length over fellow Million-contender Spring Quality and appeared to have something left in the tank when galloping out strongly past the wire.
He was not quite as fortunate last time out in the Grade I Manhattan Handicap, however. Just as he did in the Fort Marcy, Robert Bruce tucked in along the rail but sat a couple of lengths further off the pace. He went four-wide when approaching the top of the stretch and began making up ground but lost some momentum when getting bumped in between horses. He recovered and surged in the final eighth of a mile, but ran out of real estate and finished sixth one-length behind winner Spring Quality.
“At the end he was the fastest runner by far,” D’Alessandri said. “He had problems until the wire and after the wire he galloped out in front. Races are races and sometimes you have that big problem, but we have confidence now that he will run a fantastic race on Saturday. I spoke with Chad – he breezed (Monday) and he’s very confident in the horse.”
D’Alessandri discussed owner Carlos Lavin’s growing racing operation in South America, which he founded alongside his cousin Andres Lavin Besa. Lavin is the chairman of Empresas Penta, a company that he started in 1986. The business is a Santiago-based group of companies that have interests in financial, insurance, and real estate divisions. D’Alessandri, Lavin and his family will be in Chicago to watch Robert Bruce compete in the Million.
“They own a nice farm that is about 100 miles south of Santiago,” D’Alessandri said. “We started with five or six mares and now we have about 53. It is the only farm in Chile with a crop by Shanghai Bobby. We’re trying to buy nice mares in Argentina. The family is very enthusiastic. They have been in the industry the past ten years. Everyone is very happy; the owner and his family are all coming (to Arlington). We are thrilled to run in such an important race.”
The realization of the importance for South American bred and based horses to be competitive at a high level worldwide is no foreign concept to D’Alessandri.
“I think it’s very important for Chilean breeders to have good results in the United States,” D’Alessandri said. “It’s not easy and it’s not the same competition as in Chile. In the last two or three years there have been some good horses from Chile like Dacita. America is a big buyer of South American horses so that is very important. All the breeders are making a tremendous effort to bring and rent nice stallions like Shanghai Bobby, Competitive Edge, and Mastercrasftsman. We even sent four mares to California Chrome last year. It’s important to have big results in the United States. There is a market for Chilean horses in North America.”
Robert Bruce will be piloted by jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. who also rode Chilean-bred Dacita to victory in last year’s Grade I Beverly D. for Chad Brown.
“I think it was the most logical choice,” D’Alessandri said. “He’s one of the best jockeys for Chad and I think that it is a good thing to have an experienced jockey.”
PLATINUM WARRIOR STEPS OUT AT ARLINGTON
The European-based contingent that saw the oval at Arlington International Racecourse for the first time on Tuesday returned to the track on Wednesday morning, but this time they were joined by Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes entrant Platinum Warrior (IRE), who exited quarantine late Tuesday morning.
The now sextet split up into two groups and sent out for morning exercise at different times. The first trio of runners began making their way out to the racetrack a little before 7:00 a.m. and consisted of Bandua (IRE), Ming (IRE) and Platinum Warrior – all set to make their United States debut in the Secretariat.
The three Irish-bred sophomores went to the paddock where they briefly stood in the stalls and made a few laps around the ring before going out to the course for their routine morning conditioning. Trainer Michael Halford arrived on the Arlington backstretch Wednesday morning and was delighted with what he saw out of his son of Galileo (IRE), Platinum Warrior.
“We were very pleased with him,” Halford said. “He was taking in his new surroundings and was quite relaxed. He moved beautifully around the track so we got that behind us now and we’re happy with him. Ideally we’d love good ground for him. He’s a light-moving horse so the nearer the ground will be to good the better it will suit us. I won’t be giving (jockey Joel Rosario) too many instructions. He knows the place way better than I do. He’s a horse that you can go forward on. We got a good draw (post two) so I’ll just tell him to go forward and wherever he’s happy from there.”
Just after 9:00 a.m. the remaining pair of European-based competitors headed out to the racetrack where they galloped over the turf course. The group consisted of Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million aspirants Circus Couture (IRE) and Century Dream (IRE), as well as Nyaleti (IRE) who races in the Grade I $600,000 Beverly D. on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Ballydoyle-based imports remained in quarantine but are scheduled to hit the track on Thursday morning. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the quartet consists of Hunting Horn (IRE) and Lucius Tiberius (IRE) for the Secretariat, Athena (IRE) for the Beverly D. and Deauville (IRE) for the Arlington Million.
MORLEY SADDLES FIRST ARLINGTON STARTER IN SECRETARIAT
Although Carrick is the least experienced of the 13 runners for the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes, his physical development has given trainer Tom Morley some confidence that he could be ready for the test that awaits him on Saturday.
Named after an Anglicized version of the Gaelic word for “rock”, the Donegal Racing-owned son of Giant’s Causeway has only made three starts in his career. Two of the three outings were wins, but occurred against lesser company. On May 12, he ran for a $40,000 tag over the lawn at Belmont Park at odds of 15-1 but certainly did not race in the manner of such a price when he edged clear to win by 4½ lengths. His next race was a starter allowance over the Belmont turf which he won by 1½ lengths.
Next out, Carrick left the Empire State and took a step up in class in the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park on July 14. Under the guidance of Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, he laid mid-pack along the rail in the race’s early stages before angling wide into a clearer spot. At the top of the stretch, Carrick bore out and while trying to make up ground but settled for third, beaten 2¾-lengths behind upset winner Golden Brown.
“It was a rough race with a few hard luck stories,” said Morley. “With the draw at Delaware, it probably didn’t quite help him. Running out of that chute, we were looking for a prominent position and he missed the break by a half-length.
“He has done nothing but improve physically as the year has gone on. He’s a strong horse. He was very aggressive at Delaware but when he got out he relaxed. I was delighted to see him finish the race strongly – at the quarter pole I thought there might be a chance. He finished very, very well.”
Velazquez retains the mount aboard the colt, who breaks from post four. Carrick will be Morley’s first starter at Arlington, while Velazquez will aim for his first Secretariat triumph since Awad won the 1993 edition of the race.
CONNECTIONS OF THE PIZZA MAN CHASE SECOND MILLION VICTORY
Local racegoers were delighted with the result of the 2015 Grade I Arlington Million when Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man made history as the first Illinois-bred to win the Prairie State’s most prestigious horse race. This year, his connections are chasing a second chance at Chicago-glory with longshot Twenty Four Seven.
Trained by Roger Brueggemann, the son of City Zip has more experience over the Arlington turf course than any of the other runners, which is no surprise given that he is based at the Chicagoland oval. In four starts at Arlington, Twenty Four Seven has won twice. Both of those wins took place this year in one-mile allowance events. The pair of victories gave his connections the confidence to try him against graded stakes company in the Grade III Arlington Handicap, where he finished sixth beaten only two lengths by Divisidero.
“He had a compromised day in the Arlington Handicap,” said Rich Papiese, who owns Midwest Thoroughbreds with his wife Karen. “He didn’t have earplugs in. He kicked the wall twice when he was getting saddled. He only lost the race by a few lengths. I’d look for him to be running late in the stretch (on Saturday).”
In his final work for the Arlington Million, Twenty Four Seven drilled a half-mile over the Arlington synthetic surface in :46.00 on Aug. 4.
“He put in a real nice work going in,” Papiese said. “Roger’s always liked the horse. He’s just got to grow up a bit, but I don’t think he’ll disappoint.”
Papiese briefly reflected on The Pizza Man’s memorable Arlington Million win just three years ago. The homebred by English Channel quickly became a fan favorite during his Chicago campaign. After winning the Million his success continued when taking the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar to cap off 2015. The following year, The Pizza Man was struggling to finish on the board in his first four starts, but returned to top form with a win in the Grade I Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.
“It was a big moment for the family,” Papiese recalled of his Arlington Million triumph. “We bred him and raced him, and to win the Million was amazing.”
Today, The Pizza Man is living his best life as a stable pony in Brueggemann’s barn. He provides companionship and security to Brueggemann’s working Thoroughbreds who go out each morning for training. Joining The Pizza Man in stable pony duties is another Illinois racing fan-favorite – Work All Week, winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita in 2014 who was honored with the Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter the same year.
“I’ve been to the track a couple of times and he’s fitting in pretty well,” Papiese said of The Pizza Man in his new career. “He’s settling in nicely.”
On Saturday, Twenty Four Seven will receive the services of another local in jockey Chris Emigh as the duo break from post seven in a field of 11.