08/16/2012 1:47PM

Arlington Park: Aruna can claim top spot via Beverly D.

Four-Footed Fotos
Aruna is the only Grade 1 winner in the Beverly D. field.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Graham Motion long has believed that Aruna has something special awaiting her. A hard-trying British-bred mare with the class to match her consistency, Aruna has the opportunity to fulfill those hopes Saturday in one of the premier filly-mare turf races in North America, the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park.

With the recent retirement of Winter Memories, a sudden void exists atop this niche division, and Aruna is one of the prime candidates to step right in. She is one of 10 in the Beverly D., a $750,000 turf race that promises to bring some badly needed definition to the division. Fittingly, the Beverly D. is a “Win and You’re In” race toward the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

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“I am really happy with the way the mare has trained into this,” said Motion, the Maryland-based trainer whose best result from four prior tries in the Beverly D. came when Film Maker ran second in 2006. “The Beverly D. has been on our radar for quite a long time. The good news is she is coming into it the right way.”

Ramon Dominguez, who won the Beverly D. last year on favored Stacelita, has a return call on Aruna, who starts from post 7.

Aruna, owned by the Flaxman Holdings Ltd., is the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, having accounted for the Spinster last fall at Keeneland. Since coming into Motion’s care midway through her 3-year-old season, Aruna, now 5, has won 6 of 11 starts, with all but one of those victories coming in stakes.

If recent history means anything, then chances are good that Aruna or Mystical Star will emerge victorious in the Beverly D., which goes at 1 3/16 miles on the lush Arlington turf. Six of the last seven Beverly D. winners, and nine of the last 13, have come from East Coast stables. Christophe Clement, the trainer of Mystical Star, believes the distance of the race will be an advantage.

“She’s a lovely filly, an improving type, and her last two races were superb,” said Clement, the leading trainer in race history with three wins. “She wants to go long, and not many of these bigger races are this long. I know it’s not an easy race, but we’re in there.”

Mystical Star overcame a horrendous start to finish third behind Aruna in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay over her home course at Belmont Park on May 26 before leading most of the way to win the Grade 2 New York Handicap to stamp her ticket to Chicago. She will have Jose Lezcano aboard again Saturday.

The two New York shippers will face a surplus of talent, with Marketing Mix being foremost among those opponents. An Ontario-bred with 7 wins from 13 starts and a field-high bankroll of just over $1 million, Marketing Mix, a lukewarm morning-line favorite at 3-1, figures among the forward flight as the field makes its way down the Arlington backside.

“She’s definitely a Grade 1 horse,” said Craig Bernick, whose family owns the familiar Glen Hill Farm silks that Marketing Mix will carry. “Hopefully she’ll be a Grade 1 winner.”

Marketing Mix, trained by Tom Proctor, has been stabled here in recent weeks following back-to-back wins in graded races at Woodbine. “It’s a huge advantage to run out of your own stall,” said Bernick. “She came out of the Woodbine races great, has ramped up her training, and we expect a big race.”

Julien Leparoux, whose first career Grade 1 victory came in the 2006 Beverly D. aboard Gorella, will partner with Marketing Mix for the sixth straight race.

Other considerations in this 23rd Beverly D. include the European foursome of Kapitale, I’m a Dreamer, Up, and Joviality. Of those, perhaps Joviality merits the most respect, mostly because of her high-profile connections – owners Darley Stud and Princess Haya of Jordan, along with trainer John Gosden – and her two sharp efforts in group company in England in June. William Buick has the call.

Rounding out the field are a couple of local stalwarts, Romacaca and Upperline, and a Canadian shipper, Stars to Shine. Romacaca, as usual, will be prominent through the early stages, helping to insure an honest pace, while Upperline is a steady performer with a proven ability to get a distance.

All starters, with the exception of the 3-year-old Up, carry 123 pounds. Upgets in at 117.

The Beverly D., named for the late wife of Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois, directly precedes the Arlington Million as the 10th of 12 Saturday races, with post time set for 5:02 p.m. Central.

Four Eclipse champions in the filly-mare turf division have won the Beverly D. in its relatively brief history, which began with California horses dominating the early runnings. There is not one West Coast filly in this edition.