08/02/2009 11:00PM

Two could give Gio Ponti trouble


Anyone looking for a repeat of the one-two-three European finish in last year's Arlington Million last year should go shopping elsewhere. While two of the three foreign invaders have legitimate claims in this year's Million, Gio Ponti need only run back to the form that has won him three consecutive Grade 1 races to land this year's edition.

But winning four races at the highest level is exceedingly difficult. If there is anything capable of beating Gio Ponti, a Christophe Clement-trained son of Tale of the Cat, it could be either Gloria de Campeao or Cima de Triomphe.

A two-time Group 1 mile winner on turf in his native Brazil, Gloria de Campeao blossomed at Nad Al Sheba this winter when finishing a distant second to Well Armed in the Dubai World Cup. While he may have been flattered in finishing ahead of Albertus Maximus and Asiatic Boy that day, there was nothing irregular about his win in the Singapore Airlines International Cup on turf over the Million distance last time on May 17. In that race he was beating Dubai Duty Free runner-up Presvis, who would next take the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. The 84-day layoff Gloria de Campeao has had since then is a worry, but trainer Pascal Bary, who engineered the 2003 Breeders' Cup Mile victory of Six Perfections at Arlington off a 69-day absence, will be sure to have him primed for a big effort.

Cima de Triomphe has been pointed to the Million since he upset last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Conduit, in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes on May 28. He was a bit unlucky when 10 1/2 lengths fourth last time in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes, and while he wasn't going to beat either Sea the Stars or Rip Van Winkle that day, he would have finished a few lengths closer but for a lack of room in midstretch.

Cima de Triomphe, the 2008 Italian Derby winner, has always shown a preference for good to firm ground. It was Cumani who won a friendly argument with owner Teruya Yoshida in running Cima de Triomphe in the Million as opposed to the 1 1/2-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 25. Cima will be Cumani's sixth Million runner. The Newmarket-based Italian won it most memorably in 1983 when Tolomeo defeated John Henry in becoming the race's only 3-year-old victor.

That same year, the filly All Along earned Eclipse Award Horse of the Year honors as Walter Swinburn guided her to victory in the D.C. International, the Turf Classic, and the Canadian International, as well as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Swinburn rode Petit Loup to a fourth-place finish in the 1994 Million and has since turned his hand to training. He returns to Arlington with the dark horse Stotsfold. A 6-year-old gelded son of Breeders' Cup Mile winner Barathea, Stotsfold was just a length behind Cima de Triomphe and Conduit in the Brigadier Gerard, then won the 1 1/4-mile La Coupe at Longchamp last time on June 18. A three-time Group 3 winner going 1 1/4 miles, Stotsfold has never been better, but needs to show more to have a serious say in the outcome.

Einstein's three-length fifth in last year's Million puts him in the same league as Gloria and Cima, while Presious Passion's two-length score over Lauro in the United Nations may not be quite up to the quality of either of those two European raiders, both of whom have Gio Ponti to beat.

Alnadana should get firm turf

Alnadana has been looking for firmish ground throughout her career and is likely to get it in the Beverly D. Owned by the Aga Khan, she has matched strides with colts in Group 3 company and was sharpened for speed last time when leading throughout to take the one-mile, Group 3 Prix Messidor against males on July 18. That was the race Goldikova won last year prior to embarking on a three-race Group 1 and Grade 1 winning streak that culminated in the Breeders' Cup Mile. As with Goldikova, there are doubts about Alnadana's ability to stay 1 3/16 miles, but her dam, Alnamara, won a listed race at 1 1/2 miles as well as a 1 5/16-mile maiden and a 1 1/4-mile allowance, all on the tough Parisian circuit.

Denomination is a rare 3-year-old trying the Beverly D. Trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, who won this in 1994 with Hatoof, the daughter of Smart Strike won the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux at Longchamp at virtually the same distance as the Beverly D. She improved when a close third in the Group 3 Prix Chloe on July 5 but will be facing older fillies and mares for the first time on Saturday.

Mad About You has been maddening for trainer Dermot Weld this year. A hot prospect since running the very talented Promising Lead to 1 1/4 lengths in last year's Group 1 Nassau Stakes, she has since beaten males in Group 3 company but has been slightly disappointing in three tries since then. Out of Irresistible Jewel, a Group 2 winner at 1 1/2 miles and a Group 3 winner going 1 1/4 miles who was second in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Prix de l'Opera, Mad About You has not run at or about the Beverly D. distance since her loss in the Pretty Polly. A return to that form makes her the day's value play in what looks like a great betting race.

Black Bear Island can contend

Black Bear Island is the only European entry in the Secretariat Stakes, and he will become an American trainee after the race. Considered a leading Epsom Derby candidate after his game score in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at 1 1/4 miles and 88 yards, the full brother to two-time Breeders' Cup Turf winner High Chaparral disappointed when 10th in the Derby, looked competent when third in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, but was never in contention when sixth in the Grand Prix de Paris.

Since sold by Coolmore to American interests, the son of Sadler's Wells should benefit by a return to 1 1/4 miles. If he can recapture his best, he is at least as good as any of his opponents who created a blanket finish in the American Derby.