Notes & Quotes From Arlington Million Day / Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar

Notes and quotes from the day at Arlington Park on “Million Day”:

(Robert Bruce winning the G1 Arlington Million on Saturday / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Arlington Park)

G1 Arlington Million:

Chad Brown, trainer of winner Robert Bruce — the first Chilean-bred to ever run, and win the Million:

“He’s got an unbelievable kick, but so did the losing horse,” said Brown, Arlington International’s all-time leading Grade I-winning trainer. “They both ran tremendous.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr., rider of the winner:

“Today was a smaller field, a little more speed,” said Ortiz, who won his first Million on his 26th birthday. “Thank God I didn’t have any traffic. On the backside I didn’t want to fight with him, just wanted him to be happy, so when I turned to the backside and went to the two-path I didn’t panic.”

Joel Rosario, rider of runner-up Almanaar:

“He gave me everything he had,” said Almanaar’s jockey Joel Rosario. “I thought for a second we were going to be there but the outside horse (Robert Bruce) came with a strong finish.”

William Buick, rider of Century Dream, who finished third, but was DQ’d to fourth. He took the lead early and held until mid-stretch:

“Simon [Cirsford, trainer] was always very confident of riding a horse positively and he’s a real honest, game horse, and I thought there was a chance that everyone was going to be looking at each other and that no one really wanted the lead,” said William Buick, who rode Century Dream. “We were kind of an underdog in the race so I figured we’d try our best and make something of it.”

(Sistercharlie winning the G1 Beverly D. Stakes / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Arlington Park)

G1 Beverly D. Stakes:

John Velazquez, rider of the winner Sistercharlie:

“We broke a little slow, like always,” said Velazquez. “As soon as we went past the wire I looked for the position I wanted and I got it. Then I sat there and I saw Ryan Moore move on the outside on the backstretch and kind of pushed him out and he came in, and I kind of followed him from there. From the half-mile pole there was really one horse to beat so I put her right behind that one and when I asked her she responded really well.”j

Irad Ortiz, Jr., rider of runner-up Fourstar Crook:

“She’s a nice mare, she tries hard,” said jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. “She got beat by Sistercharlie, one of the greatest turf fillies right now. She ran very good. I didn’t want to go too early, wanted to wait, and she got a perfect trip.”

(Carrick winning the Secretariat Stakes on Saturday / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Arlington Park)

G1 Secretariat Stakes:

John Velazquez, rider of the winner Carrick:

“By the backstretch I was in a perfect position and I was very happy with the way he was doing things,” Velazquez said. “After that, really, I was just waiting for the stretch run to see how he would respond for me and he responded right away.”

Jose Ortiz, rider of the runner-up Analyze It:

“My horse ran good,” Ortiz said. “It might be farther than he wants to go, but he tries. He hasn’t disappointed and he performed really well.”

William Buick, rider of third-place finisher Bandua:

“He just got a little outpaced,” said Bandua’s rider William Buick. “Had a lovely run through the race. The front two just kind of kicked clear of me and he was just getting his rhythm going. He’s a nice horse and he’s one that’s going to keep improving, as well.”

(Instagrand winning the Best Pal Stakes on Saturday / Benoit Photo Courtesy of Del Mar Race Track)

Del Mar Race Course:

G2 Best Pal Stakes:

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE ((Instagrand, winner) – “I haven’t been getting on him in the morning (since he rode him to victory in his first start on June 29 at Los Alamitos). But they told me he was ready. Oh, yeah. I just threw a couple of crosses at him today; that’s all. Cadillac. I wanted to see if he’d change leads on his own, but in the end I just gave it a little weight shift (to the inside) and he made a perfect change.  He’s got the mind of a 4- or 5-year-old. Professional.”

GARY STEVENS (Sparky Ville, second) – “He beat ‘em all, but one. Don’t even ask me if I could see the winner.”

KENT DESORMEAUX (Synthesis, third) – “He tried. That’s all I can say – he tried.”


JERRY HOLLENDORFER (Instagrand, winner) – “I was a little bit worried (with the delay at the gate); some of the colts were acting up, but then they got them in there. He broke good even though he had been standing in there awhile, then Drayden (Van Dyke) got this colt to relax and he did his thing. I think it is an improvement (over his debut race) in that he did it so much easier. We’ll look at the Futurity for him, for sure.”


Ebben has been doing well,” Margolis said. “He worked :59 and 1 (on Saturday Dec. 30). We’ll work him a half-mile next weekend and get Corey (Lanerie) to ride him. He loved the way he worked so all is good. We got a little break after the allowance (at Churchill Downs on Nov.25) and it’s been about six or seven weeks so it’s perfect timing for him. We’re ready to go.”

Trainer Steve Margolis, is expected to enter Ebbed in the G3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes — a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby — at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 13
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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