Updated on 09/16/2011 9:03AM

Beat Hollow, just barely

Beat Hollow keeps his head just in front of Sarafan (shadow roll) in a blanket Arlington Million finish.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The big horse isn't just gifted, he's brave. Beat Hollow dug down deep and won a thrilling Arlington Million, passing Forbidden Apple in the final yards while holding off a desperate rally from his archrival, Sarafan.

Beat Hollow's winning margin was a head in the most contentious Arlington Million ever. Sarafan won the place by a nose over Forbidden Apple, with just more than a length separating the first six finishers in the race.

"Thank God I won," said trainer Bobby Frankel. "I've lost a few like this."

Frankel and winning owner Juddmonte Farms, which won its second Million in three years, came out on the right end of another tight photo an hour later when Chiselling nailed Jazz Beat on the wire to win the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes.

In the Million, Jerry Bailey timed his move perfectly aboard Beat Hollow, waited until the last possible moment to ask for his mounts's best run.

Bailey said Beat Hollow was down to the last of his reserves at the wire.

"Yeah, he was," Bailey said. "A mile and a quarter is about his limit. The farther he goes, the less his kick is."

Many, including Frankel, thought Beat Hollow would be on the lead. But Christophe Clement, Forbidden Apple's trainer, vowed Beat Hollow wouldn't steal the Million like he had the Manhattan two starts ago.

So Jose Santos sent Forbidden Apple straight to the front, and nobody went with him. From the start, the pace clearly was slow. The turf course was listed as firm, and though riders said the grass had give, the pace of 25.07 seconds for a quarter-mile and 50.18 for a half was dawdling for a Grade 1 stakes.

Beat Hollow looked as if could have gone up to the lead at any point, but Bailey kept him outside and in the clear in third, biding his time.

The slow pace was fine for the leaders, but put the closers at a great disadvantage.

"I knew things were going to be tough because the pace was so slow," said Corey Nakatani, who rode the second choice, late-running Sarafan.

Nakatani lost his inside position going into the far turn as Paolini, the best European horse in the race, made a bid to force the pace. Meanwhile, Bailey edged Beat Hollow closer to Forbidden Apple.

"I was waiting as long as I could to pull the trigger," Bailey said. "I was worried about Forbidden Apple, but I knew I had to have something left for Sarafan."

Sarafan was guided to the outside and found his best stride as he turned for home. Beat Hollow gradually wore down Forbidden Apple in the final furlong, but Sarafan was gaining steadily. Falcon Flight flashed in between horses, but was shut off in deep stretch, and there was the wire, with Beat Hollow just hanging on.

Favored Beat Hollow paid the shortest price in Million history, $3.40.

Beat Hollow was timed in 2:02.94, with a final furlong in just more than 24 seconds. But that's a furlong he won't have to deal with the next time he races at Arlington, because Frankel said Beat Hollow will turn back in distance and point for the Breeders' Cup Mile.