08/08/2012 3:58PM

Arlington Park: Europeans look strong in Million Day stakes

Four-Footed Fotos
Rahystrada is one of the top U.S.-based horses pointing to the Arlington Million.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Arlington bills its Million Day card the International Festival of Racing, and thank goodness for the international component, because without it there would scarcely be a Million Day this year.

With just more than a week until the annual highlight of the Arlington season, prospective fields for the stakes races on the Million card are heavily reliant upon the European contingent: Of the 34 horses who as of Wednesday afternoon appeared to be likely runners in four races, fully half of them made their most recent start overseas.

That group includes five of the eight likely runners in the Million itself, which is not coming up a scintillating race this season. The only American horses presently considered likely Million starters are Rahystrada and Boisterous, the one-two finishers in the Arlington Handicap last month, and Little Mike, the speedy winner of the Grade 1 Turf Classic earlier this year. The overseas participants seem pretty much set: Asfare, Crackerjack King, Treasure Beach, and Wigmore Hall all are expected to ship while trainer John Gosden will send either Questioning or Colombian, with Questioning perhaps the more likely of the two. None of the Europeans would be considered anything close to the best European 1 1/4-mile horse.

Four Euros – I’m a Dreamer, Joviality, Kapitale, and Up – are expected for the Beverly D., which has a stronger North American group than the Million. Aruna, Marketing Mix, and Mystical Star top the latter group, with Romacaca and Upperline also expected to run.

The Secretariat, headed by Silver Max, could prove the most interesting of the Million Day stakes. Trainer Dale Romans has told Arlington officials he plans to start Finnegans Wake and Cozzetti as well as Silver Max in the Secretariat, and a favorable Wednesday morning workout has the connections of New York-based Summer Front entertaining an Arlington trip. Other Americans who could run are All Stormy and Handsome Mike while four Europeans could enter the race. That group includes Bayris, Daddy Long Legs, Dark Stranger, and Speaking of Which.

Finally, the newly created $400,000 American St. Leger Stakes is not looking promising. While Arlington continues to list 10 possible starters for the race, no more than five horses are firm participants at this point. That quintet includes four Europeans and one of two horses trained at Arlington by Chris Block, Ioya Two and Suntracer. The venerable Canadian-based Musketier, who would have been a prime player in the American St. Leger, was taken out of consideration for the race by trainer Roger Attfield on Wednesday.

Two-year-olds to take next step

Both 2-year-old winners of overnight stakes races here Saturday are likely to return for the major 2-year-old races of the meet in September, their trainers said Wednesday.

Jim DiVito said Muppet Man, a sharp front-end winner of the Meadowlake Stakes, is being pointed for the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity on Sept. 8.

“He came out of his race real well,” said DiVito. “The timing of the [Futurity] is perfect for the horse.”

Muppet Man, a Corinthian colt bred and owned by Curtis Green, has won the first two starts of his career.

Likely for the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie, also on Sept. 8, is Gold Edge, who ran her record to 2 for 2 rallying to win the Lisa M Stakes for trainer Lon Wiggins and owner-breeder Dolphus Morrison. Gold Edge, who scored by three-quarters of a length over the maiden All Her Class, will have two or three works before her start in the Lassie.

“She came out of the race fine, and the Lassie is the goal,” Wiggins said. “She never misses a grain of feed, and I’ve never had a 2-year-old you can train this hard. She’s just one of those freaky horses I guess.”

Trainer Wayne Catalano said the talented maiden All Her Class, who held a clear lead in mid-stretch of the Lassie before settling for second, is possible for the Lassie. All Her Class, who came out of the race well, Catalano said, also could show up in a maiden race.