05/18/2010 11:00PM

American Guineas gets filly with foreign ties


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Arlington Park dropped the "Arlington International" moniker several years ago, but the suburban Chicago racetrack still dabbles in global positioning. The American 1000 Guineas, run for the third time on Saturday, came into existence in 2008 under just such international flag-waving, but the race still seems to be in a developmental phase.

Arlington spared no expense creating the American 1000 Guineas: The $200,000 purse is among the richest all year in the 3-year-old filly turf division. California offers the $250,000 American Oaks on July 3 and the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 21, and east of the West Coast, only Arlington puts up more than $150,000 for an open 3-year-old filly turf stakes all summer. But does this division, especially early-season, merit that kind of cash?

The American 1000 Guineas winner in 2008 was Much Obliged, who, in 11 subsequent starts, has notched only one stakes win, that having come in a $60,000 race. The winner of the 2009 edition, Consequence, has gone winless in five races since, and has lost three straight second-level allowance races.

The 2010 American Guineas drew nine entries Wednesday, and lo and behold, the race does have an international component. An Irish-bred filly named Kilmore Quay arrived in Chicago from France on Saturday, cleared quarantine Monday, had a three-furlong turf work on Wednesday, and on Saturday will make her North American debut for her new owners, the Silverton Hill Farm of Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton.

Silverton Hill swings to an international beat. The Hamiltons, who reside in Springfield, Ky., buy at least a horse or two every year overseas, sometimes reaching as far as New Zealand to find a runner. This year, they are even campaigning a handful of 2-year-olds in Ireland, according to their North American trainer, Darrin Miller, who got his first look Wednesday morning at Kilmore Quay.

Hard to say just yet what sort of filly Kilmore Quay might be. She got her career started last winter on the French all-weather circuit, running poorly in her debut, but improving from there to win a Jan. 9 maiden race at Deauville in her third start. This spring, Kilmore Quay switched to turf, and after a comeback third, she won well enough in allowance company April 20 at Longchamp. But the synthetic-track win came over 1 3/16 miles, the turf win at 1 1/4 miles, and the one-mile distance of Saturday's race could be too short.

"She's a scopey filly, and I think that's going to be her deal, going longer," Miller said. "She's got a big stride on her."

There are quicker horses in the American 1000 Guineas. Chantilly Nayla, privately purchased by Team Valor International and Highfield Stock Farm days after finishing second in the April 7 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland, led all the way winning her 4 1/2-furlong career debut here last summer. Thrice-started Queen of the Creek has won her two middle-distance grass races by a combined 6 3/4 lengths, while Bay to Bay finished a fine closing second in the Appalachian on April 15 over the Keeneland turf course.

Saturday's second turf stakes, the $100,000 Arlington Classic, drew 11 entries, only two of whom have won stakes; Gleam of Hope, who captured the Cradle at River Downs last year, and Workin for Hops, who won the Grindstone at Fair Grounds.