ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Chad Brown became only the third trainer of Thoroughbred horses to send out the winner of the Grade 1 Arlington Million, Arlington Park's signature race three times, when Carlos E. Lavin's Chilean-bred Robert Bruce won the 36th running of North America's first million dollar horse race on Saturday afternoon.
Three quarters of an hour earlier, the 39-year-old native of Mechanicville, N.Y. sent out his fourth winner of the $600,000, Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes for fillies and mares when Peter M. Brant's Sistercharlie came from seventh place in a field of nine to score by a half length.
Brown joins Hall of Fame trainers Ron McAnally and Charlie Whittingham to score a triple in The Million. His previous wins came last year with Beach Patrol with Joel Rosario in the saddle. Real Solution, with Alan Garcia aboard, was the 2013 Million winner.
With their wins in suburban Chicago, Robert Bruce and Sistercharlie earned expense-paid invitations to the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. Robert Bruce is guaranteed a starting stall in the $4 million, Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf. Sistercharlie in an automatic invitee to the $2 million, Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf.
The win for Robert Bruce looked like anything but a sure thing when the starting gate — which is placed very close to the far turn — opened for the mile and a quarter tour of the Arlington Turf Course. Robert Bruce, breaking from the Number 8 stall, came out in a straight line and bumped with Amerman Racing's Oscar Performance, the 19 to 10 favorite on the strength of a win in the Secretariat on last year's Million card and most recently in Belmont's Poker Stakes.
Oscar Performance would later be pulled up in the home stretch by jockey Jose Ortiz. Early veterinary reports said he was apparently uninjured but may have “taken a bad step.”
After the starting incident, Robert Bruce settled into stride in the eighth spot while the Irish-bred Century Dream, who would later be disqualified from third to fourth for interference in the stretch, set all the pace.
Robert Bruce and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. arrived at the home stretch will in eighth place and with no racing room between the horses ahead of them. That situation caused the rider to swing six wide. When the 4-year-old Robert Bruce saw daylight and switched to his right lead, he and Ortiz mounted a drive that would allow them to make up a deficit of some 10 lengths and get home the winner by a half-length over Shadwell Stables Almanaar, another of the three starters Brown had in the race. (Money Multiplier finished fifth.)
Robert Bruce was clocked in 2:02.29 over a 'good' turf course to score his second win in North America. He was undefeated in six starts in his native Chile before he came North and won Belmont's Grade 3 Fort Marcy this spring. He tasted defeat for the first time by finishing sixth in Belmont's Grade 1 Manhattan.
After the race, Brown saluted his staff and explained that he had not accompanied his horses to the previous Million wins because “I didn't want to jinx things.” With his father at his side, he said he made the trip to Arlington Park this time because “I wanted to feel that trophy.”
Robert Bruce backers collected $7.20 for a $2 win bet. The all-Brown exacta of Robert Bruce and Almanaar was worth $37.20.
When the tote board flashed the numbers for the Beverly D Stakes, the first three finishers all had Chad Brown listed in the trainer's block. Sistercharlie, the 8 to 5 favorite, paid $5.20 to win after she charged from seventh place in a field of nine fillies and mares to win her first start in North America.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who had taken off his Saratoga mounts for the three racing days prior to the Million to allow an injured ankle to heal, was at Sistercharlie's controls for the win.
Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and Gary Aisquith's Four Star Crook, the winner of Belmont's Grade 2 New York Stakes for Brown, was second. Allen Stables and Peter Brant's French-bred Thais, the second longest shot on the board at 47 to 1 despite coming out of the Brown shed row, was third another length and a quarter behind Four Star Crook.
Velazquez shocked the capacity crowd when he got a gutsy performance out of Carrick, a former $40,000 claimer, to win the $400,000, Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes for Donegal Racing and New York-based trainer Tom Morley.
Carrick, who was making only his fourth lifetime start, was sent postward at 38 to 1. He rewarded his backers with a $78.20 payoff after winning a home stretch duel with William H. Lawrence's Analyze It, a Brown trainee ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Voodoo Song Wins Fourstardave 'Cap, Earns Loyalty Bonus
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — After Voodoo Song's win in Saratoga's $500,000, Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 11, race caller Larry Collmus announced the 4-year-old colt was “returning to his favorite winners' circle here at Saratoga.”
Maybe Voodoo's Song doesn't know one winner's circle from another, but owner Barry Schwartz and trainer Linda Rice do. Their charge had just won his fifth race over the historic oval in two years — and this one was Grade 1.
Last year, the New York-bred won a $40,000 claimer, two state-bred allowances and the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes here. After a winter vacation, the New York-bred son of English Channel from the Unbridled Song mare Mystic Chant returned to the races at Belmont and went two for four this year. Then it was the big step up to Grade 1 company in the Fourstardave.
Voodoo Song and regular rider Jose Lezcano came out of the gate running at the start of the turf mile and were quickly joined by Heart to Heart and Julien Leparoux. Voodoo Song shed that rival as the field of six approached the first turn. From there on, the pace was all Voodoo Song.
About halfway down the home stretch, Delta Prince and Javier Castellano loomed large with a challenge to the pace maker. With both jockeys asking their mounts for their all, it was Voodoo Song by a neck over Stronach Stable's Delta Prince, the winner of Woodbine's Grade 2 King Edward Stakes in his last outing. Gunpowder Farm's Divisidero, the winner of Arlington Park's Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, was third two lengths behind Delta Prince.
Voodoo Song stopped the timer in 1:35.96 after a two-turn trip around a Saratoga Inner Turf course that had been rain-soaked for days and had dried sufficiently to earn a rating of 'Good.' The win was the colt's eighth from 16 starts. The winner's check for $288,750 raised his lifetime purse earnings to $870,435.
Of that sum, $13,750 came as part of the New York Racing Association's Loyalty Program. Race goers looked in their program and saw a star and the letter S next to Voodoo Song's name. That notation indicates that he was making his fifth consecutive start at an NYRA track and was therefore racing for a 5% bonus over and above the listed prize money.
But it wasn't all bonus money that got Voodoo Song entered in the Fourstardave, a race named for a horse that won at least one race at Saratoga from the age of 2 to the age of 10 and who has a street named for him here.
“He has matured as a 4-year-old,” trainer Linda Rice said. “I was pleased with his races at Belmont. He ran will in the (Grade 3) Poker (where he was third) coming from off the pace. He ran a really gritty seven furlongs in an allowance. He won the Forbidden Apple. Today, it couldn't have worked out better,” she concluded.
Lezcano used a race-riding tactic befitting a journeyman with his years of experience. “I waited on the inside closer to the rail. When I saw the Number 2 (Delta Prince), I came outside a little bit so (Voodoo Song) could see him. He re-broke. He kept going and wouldn't let him pass,” the rider reported.
The day's stake racing began with the Fortune Farm's Sue's Fortune showing a reversal of tactics to win the $200,000, Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
When the New York-bred daughter of Jump Start from the Catienus mare Democrat Taxes broke her maiden at Belmont in early July, jockey Junior Alvarado sent her to the front and stayed there for the win. Here at the Spa, Alvarado kept the bay filly off the pace until the field of six reached the quarter pole.
They seized the lead at that point and then opened up a substantial lead down the stretch. But, Alvarado looked back and saw Virginia Eloise and Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano coming on the outside. Sue's Fortune hung on to the wire to get the win by a length and half and give the journeyman Alvarado his second win of the day. Virginia Eloise took second 2-1/4 lengths ahead of Guacamole and Luis Saez.
Owner-breeder Richard Nicolai will collect $110,000 for the Adirondack win to raise Sue's Fortune's purse earnings to $147,200. The Grade 2 Adirondack win will also add an estimable amount to the breeding value.
After the race, trainer Jeremiah Englehart compared his filly's two races saying, “She takes the lead and she runs away. This race, she stalked. She's a race horse. Now we have to find out what the next spot is going to be.”
The postponed $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes became Lezcano's second stake of the day when he piloted The Janney and Phipps Families' Inspector Lynley to the win for trainer Claude R. (Shug) McGaughey. After a charge down the lane, he homebred was three parts of a length to the good of the Brirish-bred Projected.
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