Updated on 09/16/2011 9:01AM

Beat Hollow's rep: Chalk it up to talent

Beat Hollow trains at Del Mar Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's Arlington Million, where he will be a solid favorite.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In late March, the Fair Grounds season was winding down to its last big event, the Explosive Bid. Fourteen turf horses were entered, good ones too. But there was Beat Hollow, with just a third-level allowance win in this country, opening up at odds of 6-5.

The heavy favoritism was nothing new. Beat Hollow was 2-5 in his only start at age 2, 7-5 in his first start at 3, and a 7-2 favorite in the 15-horse Epsom Derby of 2000. It has been the same since he was imported to California late last year. He was 1-2 in his United States debut, and in four graded stakes this year - including three Grade 1's - Beat Hollow has never been higher than 8-5. Three weeks ago in the Eddie Read, he was 1-2 in a six-horse field.

On Saturday, Beat Hollow will add another chalk mark to his resume in the Arlington Million, and a win over the likes of Sarafan, Forbidden Apple, and the German star Paolini, will only strengthen the perception that Beat Hollow's ability is the equal of his betting support.

Beat Hollow, a 5-year-old, has won 6 of 9 starts and never finished worse than third. Just three horses have ever beaten him. Sinndar, Europe's best horse in 2000, and Sahkee, narrowly second in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic, finished first and second in Beat Hollow's Epsom Derby. Only Sarafan has beaten him in the U.S. In the Explosive Bid, Sarafan out-kicked Beat Hollow on the square, but three weeks ago in the Eddie Read, while Beat Hollow was stuck in traffic, Sarafan sailed to a 1 1/4-length win.

The frustrating loss stopped Beat Hollow's two-race Grade 1 win streak, but has done little to diminish his reputation.

"He fits right in with the best of them," said trainer Bobby Frankel, who won the 2000 Million with Chester House. "Look at his record. He'll always try."

Beat Hollow was a favorite long before masses of people began betting him to win. English-bred and -raised, Beat Hollow is by Sadler's Wells, the world's best turf sire, out of the Group 1-winning mare Wemyss Bight.

"Henry Cecil, his trainer in England, always thought he was an exceptionally talented horse," said Dr. John Chandler, president of Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, Beat Hollow's owner and breeder. "Certainly he was one of our better horses as a yearling."

Beat Hollow ran to his reputation as a 2-year-old, winning by three lengths at Yarmouth before being put away for a 3-year-old campaign. Cecil gave him one prep for the Derby, a win in the listed Newmarket Stakes, but Beat Hollow was six lengths behind Sinndar and five behind Sahkee at Epsom. As a consolation prize, Beat Hollow galloped in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris two weeks later.

That would be his last race for a year and a half and his last start in Europe. Frankel has said all along he didn't know of any major problems that cost Beat Hollow his entire 4-year-old season, and that's Chandler's version, too.

"We gave him a rest for awhile," Chandler said. "He had some niggling problems. Eventually we decided to send him to Bobby, and Bobby, as he does, took his time with the horse."

"When I got him he had some little problems, nothing much," Frankel said. "He's a sound horse."

Beat Hollow's reputation was not lost in his journey from England to California.

"Just take a look at his European form," said Frankel. If Frankel was impressed with Beat Hollow on paper, he loved what he saw when he began working with the horse.

"I know Bobby's always been very high on this horse from the first time he worked him," Chandler said.

It's easy to see why. Beat Hollow has both tactical speed and an impressive speed. When nobody wanted the lead in the Manhattan Handicap, Beat Hollow led all the way. And when he finally shook free of traffic in the Eddie Read, he came home with powerful acceleration.

Now it's time for Beat Hollow to put it all together on what could prove to be his biggest stage. Because of his finish in the Epsom Derby there are questions about Beat Hollow's effectiveness at 1 1/2 miles. "Maybe he didn't quite stay the 12 furlongs with that company," Chandler said.

For his part, Frankel thinks Beat Hollow's best trip right now is between 1 1/8 and 1 1/4 miles, the distance he runs Saturday. So, if the Breeders' Cup Turf is just beyond Beat Hollow's scope, and the Breeders' Cup Mile is a touch too short, it means the Million could be Beat Hollow's best chance to demonstrate just how good he is.

"It's horse racing, so you know anything can happen," said Frankel. "They're not machines."

But dig a little deeper and Frankel articulates the expectations Beat Hollow carries into the Million.

"Unless something drastic happens, I'd be very disappointed if he got beat," Frankel admitted.

And so will the bettors.