08/14/2011 11:51AM

Arlington: Another U.S. visit would make sense for Cape Blanco

Doug Clark/Fourfootedfotos
The 3-year-old Treasure Beach (above) ran faster in the Secretariat Stakes than Arlington Million winner Cape Blanco did about an hour later, largely due to deteriorating conditions on the turf course.

Two garlands of flowers hung casually over a green and white sawhorse-style barrier sitting next to a tack room in the south end of Arlington’s quarantine barn early Sunday morning. The horses that had earned the floral reward the previous afternoon, Cape Blanco and Treasure Beach, walked quietly round the half-sized, near-barren shed row, apparently oblivious to their accomplishments on Arlington Million Day, and seemingly no worse for the experience.

“All’s well,” said Pat Keating, the man on the other end of the shank from Million winner Cape Blanco, and a regular traveler to Arlington for his boss, trainer Aidan O’Brien. “We go home tonight.”

Cape Blanco and Treasure Beach, the Secretariat Stakes winner, gave O’Brien a rare Grade 1 double on Arlington Million Day. Before Saturday’s results, only Bobby Frankel in 2002 had won more than one of the three Grade 1 turf races here in August. O’Brien did not make the trip for Saturday’s races, and information on specific plans for the winning pair is likely to be slow in coming from Ballydoyle, O’Brien’s yard in Ireland, but Cape Blanco could easily wind up back in the U.S. at some point this year. The 4-year-old now is 2 for 2 in America, winning the Man o’ War at Belmont before easily capturing Saturday’s Million – and racing on the anti-bleeder medication Lasix on both occasions.

The four other Europeans here for Million Day depart for Amsterdam on a late afternoon flight Monday. All but Zack Hall, who beat just one horse in the Million, at least ran decently. Ziyarid, who reportedly was available for purchase this week but will return to France unsold, held well for second in the Secretariat, while River Jetez was third in the Beverly D., and Wigmore Hall a closing fourth in the Million.

Treasure Beach turned in a far faster time for 1 1/4 miles -- 2:03.91 compared with  2:05.39 -- than Cape Blanco, but there is little doubt that the condition of the Arlington turf course deteriorated significantly during the hour between the two races. Rated as yielding after an early-afternoon downpour, the course took more light rain through the afternoon and by the time of the Million had been pounded by 80 hooves in the Secretariat and Beverly D. Ramon Dominguez, who rode Casino Host to a fifth-place finish in the Secretariat, won the Beverly D. on Stacelita, and was aboard Gio Ponti for his second-place finish in the Million ,said the turf was far wetter and more demanding for the Million than in the earlier races. The winning Million time was the slowest in race history, and the wet turf compromised the chances of Gio Ponti, fifth-place Rahystrada, and sixth-place Tajaaweed.

“I just think the ground was very, very much against us,” said trainer Christophe Clement, who stayed in New York and saddled Winchester to win the Sword Dancer at Saratoga. Clement said Gio Ponti was likely to make his next start in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland or the Woodbine Mile.

Beverly D. winner Stacelita was to ship back to New York by van on Sunday, trainer Chad Brown said.

“So far everything looks good. We’ll probably go to the Flower Bowl with her,” said Brown, referring to the Oct. 1 Grade 1 grass race at Belmont.

Stacelita, who got a perfect pocket trip under Dominguez, wasn’t originally nominated to the Breeders’ Cup, but Brown said that after Stacelita’s third-place finish last month in the United Nations Handicap, her first start in the U.S., owner Martin Schwartz had paid the supplementary fees required to make Stacelita eligible to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, Stacelita’s year-end goal.

“She had some time to acclimate over here now,” Brown said. “She came to me in excellent shape, but she really adapted to our program.”

While the Secretariat’s top two, Treasure Beach and Ziyarid, will head east to Europe, third-place finisher Banned was scheduled to fly to California later Sunday, perhaps with an eye toward the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4. Fourth-place Willcox Inn seemed to have come out of the race in good condition, but plans for his next start are uncertain, trainer Mike Stidham said.

- additional reporting by David Grening