Godolphin Have Big Shout In The Million

Godolphin’s Gr1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic winner Santin will join six other turf specialists including Smooth Like Strait, hero of the Gr1 Cannon Thoroughbreds’ Shoemaker Mile, in the 39th edition of the $1 million Gr1 Arlington Million on Saturday at Churchill Downs from the year 2021.

Santini wins last time (Image – Churchill Downs)

Thanks to the collaboration of Ellis Park, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Kentucky Horsemen, the 1 1/8 mile Arlington Million, which annually attracts some of the nation’s top turf stars aged 3 years and older, will be held at Churchill Downs for the first time In a special, standalone, one-day summer event at Louisville’s historic racetrack.

It was previously raced at Arlington Park until the circuit closed in 2021.

Saturday marks only the third time in Churchill Downs’ 148-year history that August has hosted racing at the home of the Kentucky Derby. In 1983-84, Churchill Downs hosted extended 93-day Spring Meets that ran from late April through Labor Day.

Saturday’s unique 11-race program will be spearheaded by the $500,000 Gr1 Beverly D. for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on grass. The Beverly D is a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In Filly & Mare Turf Division race.

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The card also includes the $200,000 Fort Larned Stakes and the $200,000 Lady Tak Stakes.

At the Arlington Million, Santin returns to Churchill Downs, where he narrowly defeated Mira Mission in the $1 million Gr1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby Day. He will try to get his hands on Count Again (Frank E. Kilroe Mile and Shoemaker Mile), Cyberknife (Arkansas Derby and Haskell), Jackie’s Warrior (Churchill Downs and AG Vanderbilt), Life Is Good (Pegasus World Cup and Whitney), Nest (Ashland ) to join and coaching club American Oaks) and Regal Glory (Jenny Wiley and Just a Game) as two-time US Grade I winners in 2022.

Santin was coached by Brendan Walsh and most recently had an eventful sixth-place finish in the $750,000 Gr1 Manhattan, where he had an unexpected shoe repair in the paddock and was defeated by Tribhuvan (FR) by 5 ¼ lengths. Santin was preparing for the Arlington Million in Saratoga but arrived at Churchill Downs last Thursday and recorded a solid three-mile pull in :36.80 ahead of Beverly D. competitor Family Way on Monday morning. Tyler Gaffalione, eight-time leader of the Churchill Downs, will be on board Santin from post #6.

California-based Smooth Like Strait will be looking to get his eighth career win as one of what’s likely to be top betting interests. The ultra-consistent 5-year-old Midnight Lute son finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Count Again in his bid for another win in the $500,000 Gr1 Shoemaker Mile. From 21 starts, Smooth Like Strait had eight second-place finishes and three third-place finishes for $1,581,573 in earnings. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Smooth Like Strait led almost every step of last year’s $2 million Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, but was nailed to the top by Space Blues (IRE). Smooth Like Strait has been stationed at McCarthy’s barn at Churchill Downs since August 2 and finished his main job for the Arlington Million on Saturday with a quick half-mile move in: 47.80. He will be ridden by Post 4’s John Velazquez.

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Another top horse that competed in the Arlington Million is Juddmonte’s homebred Set Piece (GB). The 10-time winner has four wins in five starts under the Twin Spiers, including wins in last year’s $130,000 Opening Verse, $110,000 Douglas Park Overnight Stakes and $300,000 Wise Dan (GII).

Set Piece celebrates a win this year as he stormed off the pace to win the $250,000 Gr2 dinner party in Pimlico. Set Piece will be driven from Post 1 by Florent Geroux, winner of the 2015 Arlington Million.

Coach Chad Brown will be looking to win his record-breaking fifth Arlington Million with Bethlehem Stables’ Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Sacred Life (FR). Posh 7-year-old Riggling defeated nine rivals in the $162,000 Gr3 Monmouth Stakes on June 18th. As a six-year-old, Sacred Life defeated his Arlington Million rival, Field Pass, in the $150,000 Gr3 Knickerbocker (GIII) at Belmont Park.

Sacred Life is ridden by Manny Franco from Post 2.

Here’s the full field from the track (with jockey and trainer): Set Piece (GB) (Geroux, Cox); Holy Life (FR) (Franco, Brown); field pass (Rey Gutierrez, Mike Maker); Smooth as the Straits (Velazquez, McCarthy); Megacity (Gerardo Corrales, Mike Maker); Santin (Gaffalion, Walsh); Admissions Office (Brian Hernandez Jr., Brian Lynch); Cavalry Charge (David Cohen, Dallas Stewart); and cellist (Corey Lanerie, Rusty Arnold).

The Arlington Million will be played on lane 1 of the Matt Winn Turf Course.

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