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All roads go through Frankel
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In the late 1940's, Milton Menasco, the prominent turf artist of the day, took his oils and canvas to Belmont Park and caught a remarkable moment in racing history. He set up his equipment at the barn of Ben and Jimmy Jones, who were preparing the Calumet Stable horses for their next campaign.
Included in that remarkable string were Armed, who was Horse of the Year in 1947; Bewitch, who was 2-year-old champion filly of 1947 and champion handicap mare of 1949; Citation, who was a Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year in 1948; Coaltown, who was handicap champion in 1949; Faultless, who won the Preakness in 1947; Wistful, who was co-champion 3-year-old filly in 1949; Two Lea, who was the other co-champion 3-year-old filly in 1949; and Ponder, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1949.
Many in racing consider this to be the greatest assemblage of horse talent in one barn.
The Calumet stars may top the list but Bobby Frankel has a pretty nice group of horses in his barn this season and will try to underline the point here this weekend as Arlington Park presents its annual turf festival, headed by the Arlington Million and including the $700,000 Beverly D. and $400,000 Secretariat Stakes.
Frankel will bid for the Million with Beat Hollow, an earner of more than $1 million with two Grade 1 stakes victories this season and a good chance to enhance his credentials for a divisional title with a victory this weekend.
He'll saddle Tates Creek, winner of the recent Diana Handicap at Saratoga, in the Beverly D. and has an attractive 3-year-old prospect for the Secretariat Stakes in Chiselling, the winner of the recent Lexington Stakes at Belmont Park.
Frankel will be able to challenge for the championship of almost every division this fall. He has a crack sprinter in Squirtle Squirt, who was the leader of his division last season. He has an outstanding contender for 3-year-old honors in Medaglia d'Oro, the Jim Dandy winner, who is an odds-on favorite for the next week's Travers Stakes at Saratoga, and he has two outstanding candidates for Horse of the Year in Milwaukee Brew, the Santa Anita Handicap winner, and Mizzen Mast, winner of the Strub Stakes.
The presence of Frankel's troupe is another illustration of the importance of the Arlington festival on the American racing scene. Frankel, like the elusive Willie Sutton, goes where the money is. He's found a lode at Arlington, where he won the Million two years ago with Chester House, and he has become an Arlington regular ever since.
Beat Hollow, a 5-year-old horse by Sadler's Wells, has been a star on the racing scene throughout his career. Trained in England at 3 by Henry Cecil, he was third in the Epsom Derby and won the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. Opportunities for older horses are limited in Europe, so Beat Hollow was sent to Frankel's barn in California by his owner and breeder, Prince Khalid Abdullah of Juddmonte Farms. Beat Hollow has reaffirmed his quality in this country. He won the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs this spring, followed with another impressive score in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park, and was unlucky to be second in the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar, blocked at a crucial point in the stretch run.
"He had no chance to run until it was too late," Frankel said. "He is full of quality and I regard this as my best chance to win the Million. He was impressive the first time he breezed after coming from Europe, and every race since has been better than the last."
The Million was won last year by Germany's Silvano and there are several interesting overseas candidates for the 2002 running on Saturday. Andreas Wohler, who saddled Silvano for last year's Million victory, returns with another good one in Paolini. A Grade 1 winner in Europe, Paolini demonstrated his talent and ability to reproduce his best form in distant surroundings with a sharp performance in Singapore.
John Hammond, one of Europe's most successful young horsemen, is here with another genuine threat in Cheshire. The 5-year-old gelding by Warning has never been better as he demonstrated in winning the recent Grand Prix de Vichy at the Arlington Million distance, 1 1/4 miles. Cheshire has the services of Japan's leading jockey, Yutaka Take, and the talents of trainer and rider merit respect for Cheshire in the Million.
Frankel won the Beverly D. in 1995 with Possibly Perfect and had seconds with Happyanunoit and The Seven Seas. His Beverly D. choice this year, Tates Creek, is likely to be one of the favorites with the popular Jerry Bailey in the irons. Bailey was superb aboard Tates Creek in the Diana Handicap, which she won by a nose over the well-regarded Voodoo Dancer. She has a powerful closing punch and her chances are good if the pace is genuine.
The one to beat in the Beverly D. appears to be Astra, who comes off consecutive victories in the Santa Barbara at Santa Anita and Hollywood's Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap and Beverly Hills. She has a superb record of consistency, with 11 victories in 15 career starts, and we are looking forward to an exciting Beverly D.
Another danger is last year's winner, England's Legend, who led all the way and won by almost eight lengths. She is in good form again, as indicated by her recent front-running victory in the Modesty Handicap at Arlington, where she is 2 for 2 and looking for more glory.
Chiselling, Frankel's Secretariat nominee, is a Woodman colt out of the remarkable producer Toussad. It took him a while to find his game, but he appears to have gotten it together this summer. His victory in the Lexington was an excellent performance and may be the augury of other triumphs.
Orchard Park is likely to be the favorite in the Secretariat off victories in the Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs and the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs. He is another stretch-runner who requires a lively pace in front and when he gets it he's very effective.