07/21/2009 11:00PM

Two weeks out, festival fields coming together


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Two weeks away from Arlington's Aug. 8 International Festival of Racing, the Arlington Million is coming together with a very solid core, while the annual international contingent for Arlington's three Grade 1 grass races is beginning to take shape.

Heading the Million's North American list of possible starters are Gio Ponti and Einstein, probably the two highest-ranked turf horses in the country right now. Also expected to be on hand for the Million are Mr. Sidney, arguably the most accomplished U.S. turf miler of 2009; Just as Well, winner of the Arlington Handicap here in his last start; and sharp United Nations Stakes winner Presious Passion. Presious Passion needs firm turf and could be redirected to the Sword Dancer at Saratoga if course conditions here look unsuitable.

Three noteworthy overseas horses are among the possible trans-Atlantic shippers: Gladiatorus, Gloria de Campeao, and Cima de Triomphe. Alastair Donald of the International Racing Bureau, which helps coordinate participation in the International Festival, mentioned both Gloria de Campeao and Cima de Triomphe when reached in London on Wednesday, while Arlington's regular Road to the Million press release named Gladiatorus as a potential runner.

Front-running Gladiatorus was rated among the world's top horses after a blowout win in the Dubai Duty Free in late March, but the horse flopped last month at Ascot, finishing sixth. Gloria de Campeao was a distant second in the Dubai World Cup on dirt and won the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup on May 17 in his most recent start.

Cima de Triomphe, a Group 1 winner, was taken out of consideration Wednesday for the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 1 1/2 miles at Ascot and may well wind up in Chicago for the 1 1/4-mile Million.

"We will look at the possibility of the Arlington Million," trainer Luca Cumani told The Racing Post. "We will see how he is in the next week or so before we make a decision."

Tazeez and Stotsfold both are expected to start Saturday in the York Stakes in England, and either could punch a ticket to the Million with a favorable performance. In Ireland, trainer Dermot Weld is said to be mulling a Million try with Famous Name, Donald of the IRB said.

Weld is expected to send the filly Mad About You for the Beverly D., with less-proven Providanza, Denomination, and Alnadana also possible shippers for a race that could have Pure Clan as a favorite.

Two Aidan O'Brien trained 3-year-olds, Black Bear Island and Drumbeat, are possible shippers for the Secretariat. That race could lack a defined favorite if leading sophomore grass horse Battle of Hastings stays home for the Del Mar Derby.

Peach Brew possible for Pucker Up

After capturing Arlington's Grade 3 main-track stakes for older females, the Matron, with Euphony in June, trainer Donnie Von Hemel took down Arlington's Grade 3 main-track stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the Oaks, with Peach Brew on Saturday. Euphony was to board a van headed to Canterbury Park from Arlington on Thursday and start Saturday in the Lady Canterbury over one mile on turf, while Peach Brew could wind up staying closer to home for her next start, which has yet to be firmly set.

Von Hemel said the only specific race he and owner Robert Zoellner had talked about for Peach Brew was the Pucker Up, a Grade 3 nine-furlong turf race on Sept. 7 at Arlington. Peach Brew finished seventh in her only other grass race this year, the American 1000 Guineas, but was beaten less than three lengths going one mile and may be better at the Pucker Up's longer trip. Her win Saturday in the Arlington Oaks, in fact, came in her first start at nine furlongs.

"Since last summer, we just were thinking that we had to get her to two turns," Von Hemel said. "We'll take every opportunity to go a little farther with her."

Von Hemel also said last week that the accomplished turf horse Waupaca had been retired to Caines Stallion Station in Wynnewood, Okla.

Douglas fundraiser a success

A charity golf outing and dinner for injured rider Rene Douglas held Monday in Bloomingdale was a major success. A local paper reported that more than $130,000 had been raised to help Douglas and his family, but the event's co-organizer, Doreen Razo, said the total amount raised would not be determined until Wednesday night.

Douglas remains in intensive rehab at a Chicago hospital, seeking to regain feeling in his lower body after suffering paralysis and other serious injures in the Arlington Matron here May 23.

Sterling, Ocampo join jockey colony

The usually active jockey pipeline between Churchill Downs and Arlington Park has slowed this year. So far, only Larry Sterling has moved his tack to Chicago after the conclusion of the Churchill spring-summer meet. Israel Ocampo also has been named on horses here this week after riding the last several months at Prairie Meadows.

* Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller reminds horsemen that stall applications for the fall-winter meet are due by Aug. 1.