08/12/2011 11:48AM

Arlington: Cape Blanco, Treasure Beach work up a sweat during first morning on track

Four Footed Fotos
Secretariat favorite Treasure Beach lathered up during his first trip to the Arlington track on Friday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – One expects overseas ship-ins to get at least a little warm during their first day of training at an American racetrack, and in this, Cape Blanco and Treasure Beach, the respective morning-line favorites for the Arlington Million and Secretariat Stakes, did not disappoint.

Making their first and only morning appearance at Arlington, the Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemates worked themselves into a full lather on a fairly cool morning outside Chicago while doing light exercise Friday. Cape Blanco got warm on the long walk from the quarantine barn to the racetrack while his younger, less experienced companion, Treasure Beach, remained cool and composed. The pair went the wrong way around Arlington’s Polytrack at a walk, turning the right direction at about the seven-furlong pole and going into a very measured one-mile gallop. A pair of horses going through a fast work on the rail whizzed by in the stretch, and Treasure Beach in particular wanted to set out after the workers, and by the time the O’Briens left the racetrack, both were covered in sweat.

Not that a good sweat the day before a race disqualifies Cape Blanco and Treasure Beach from contention. Both horses merit favoritism based on their recent racing form, and Europeans very often need at least one day to acclimate to the hotter climate here, as well as the more hectic surroundings of an American racetrack compared to daily activity back home in Ireland. That said, Cape Blanco was in Dubai this past winter - he did not become nearly as hot during his first day of training there - and got a taste of American track life when he traveled to Belmont Park to win the Man o’ War Stakes last month.

Also out of quarantine for the first time this week was the French horse Ziyarid, who will be a longshot in the Secretariat. Ziyarid also had a very light morning, as one would expect two days after shipping and one day before his race. Owned by the Aha Khan, Ziyarid is light on accomplishment, but may bring a touch of speed to Saturday’s race. He was in the Prix Daphnis on July 2 at Longchamp as a pacemaker for a stablemate, but Ziyarid never stopped and ran on to a neck victory.

Wigmore Hall, a Million starter, and River Jetez, one of the Beverly D. favorites, have been training as a pair this week, and had a light morning on the main track after going on the turf course Thursday. Both horses appear to have settled in nicely since arriving a week ago, and are carrying good weight going into Saturday’s races. River Jetez has strong European backing and may be bet down Saturday, while Wigmore Hall will need the race of his life to win the Million.

Zack Hall, the French 4-year-old in for the Million, had an easy Polytrack gallop a little after 7 a.m. and looked well enough, though he has the physical appearance of a stayer who might find 1 1/4 miles shorter than his best distance, a guess backed up by Zack Hall’s form.

Unfortunately, the local weather forecast looks discouraging. After a bright early morning, clouds had moved into the area before noon, and there is at least a 50-percent chance of showers overnight. On Saturday, there’s little doubt there will be thunderstorms in the region, and it’s just a question of whether Arlington winds up in their path. In the Million, connections of Gio Ponti and Tajaaweed have expressed a desire for firm turf. Mission Approved’s trainer, Naipaul Chatterpaul, is hoping for rain. In the Beverly D., Never Retreat would prefer a firm course, and the connections of Willcox Inn want firm going for the Secretariat.