07/23/2008 12:00AM

Five foreigners prep for Million Day


Patrons of Arlington Park could be hearing more than the usual number of foreign accents on Million Day this year. Thirteen horses from England, Ireland, France, and Italy still have one of Arlington's three big international races in mind at this date, with five of those running this weekend in make-or-break preps that will determine whether they will be in Chicago on Aug. 9.

Saturday's Group 2 York Stakes at 1 1/4 miles and 88 yards will feature three Million Day possibles. Hearthstead Maison is a candidate for the Million itself, albeit a long chance. A Group 3 winner going 1 1/4 miles at Leopardstown in September, Hearthstead Maison was third in a high-class renewal of the listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury last Saturday for trainer Mark Johnston. One of six Europeans considering the Million, the Peintre Celebre 4-year-old needs to step up at York to be a viable Arlington candidate.

A pair of 3-year-olds with Secretariat Stakes hopes also go in the York. Another son of Peintre Celebre, Collection, was a sharp winner of the listed 1 1/4-mile Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot last time and will be facing older horses for the first time in the York for trainer William Haggas. City Leader, winner of Ascot's one-mile Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes last fall, is a 1 3/8-mile listed winner this season but was only sixth in the 1 1/2-mile King Edward VII Stakes last month. A son of Fasliyev, he is trained by Brian Meehan, engineer of Red Rocks's Man o' War victory over Curlin two weeks ago.

Lord Admiral has his Million prep at Leopardstown on Thursday night in the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Meld Stakes. Trained by Charles O'Brien for his venerable father, Vincent, Lord Admiral won Nad Al Sheba's Group 2 Jebel Hatta in March and was second last time in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes behind Sunday's fifth-place finisher in the Eddie Read, Ferneley.

Baharah would probably need to win the listed Valiant Stakes at Ascot on Friday to punch her ticket to the Beverly D. An Elusive Quality 4-year-old trained by Gerard Butler, she had an excuse last time in the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she was squeezed back while making her move and finished last of 13.

Four new European names have been added to the list of Million Day possibles: City Leader's stablemate Cat Junior in the Secretariat, the Mikael Delzangles-trained Toque de Queda in the Beverly D., and Spirit One and Sopran Promo in the Million. Most recently a neck second in the Group 3 La Coupe, the Philippe Demercastel-trained Spirit One was a Group 1 winner at 2 and won the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Prix Exbury in March. A son of Montjeu, Sopran Promo hails from the red-hot barn of Bruno Grizzetti, for whom he won Italian listed races at a mile and 1 5/16 miles in his last two outings.

The two big foreign names for the Million, Archipenko and Mount Nelson, remain on course for a trip to Chicago. Both Group 1 winners this year at the Million distance of 1 1/4 miles, they could help to make this year's renewal one of the hottest in recent memory. Winchester, owned by Bert Firestone, is another Secretariat candidate, while the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Cicerole, first or second in her last six stakes tries, has the Beverly D. in her sights.