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Photo: NYRA/Chelsea Durand

Part of what makes the International Festival of Racing at Arlington International Racecourse such a unique event is the arsenal of overseas contenders that travel for one of the greatest days of turf stakes in North America. As the Arlington Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat events are drawing near, that international contingent is beginning to take shape for turf festival on Saturday, Aug. 11.


For the 36th running of the Grade 1 Arlington Million, English-based conditioner Jane Chapple-Hyam will send over Circus Couture, who raced in last Saturday’s Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile at Ascot Racecourse finishing seventh behind Beat The Bank. The 6-year-old son of Intikhab began his racing career in Italy with trainer Stefano Botti for whom he won three grouped victories. He was purchased by Chapple-Hyam in February of this year and has made four starts for the trainer.


“As a 6 year-old he’s having a new look on life and enjoying Newmarket,” Chapple-Hyam said. “I was very pleased with how he ran. He’s really stepping up into Group 1 company. It ran to me like a Group 1. Obviously Lord Glitters and Beat the Bank are heading for big projects for their next outings. I was happy to purchase him and I own half of him myself. I’m looking forward to getting a go in the Million. I’m sure there are going to be some nice American turf horses in the race as well.”


The Arlington Million will be somewhat of a quest of redemption for Chapple-Hyam, who brought over Mull of Killough for the 2013 edition of the race. The son of Mull of Kintyre was cast in his stall during the week of the race, went on to start with a good early lead but gave way late to finish eighth.


“When you run in a big race like the Million it’s not ideal to have a setback like that,” Chapple-Hyam said. “On race day the horse was 100 percent, but it was just a little set back. We learned from the last trip, so that’s got to be a plus. We know how the track is and we’ll be better prepared. Hopefully this time we come over and have no hiccups.”


While three of Circus Couture’s last four starts were at one mile, he has plenty of experience at the Million’s mile-and-a-quarter distance. As a 4-year-old he won the Group 3 Premio Ambrosiana at San Siro Racecourse in Italy, which was run at 1¼ miles.


“He’s a lovely, big imposing horse,” Chapple-Hyam said. “He’s run over the distance over in Italy and done well. It’s an easy 2000 meters; it’s not like Ascot where you’re taking on the hill. I’m a believer in that straight mile at Ascot that you’ve got to have a horse that can stay beyond a mile.”


Jockey John Egan will travel to Chicago to ride Circus Couture in the Arlington Million.


Meanwhile, trainer Mark Johnston has two-time stakes winner Mildenberger as a possible entrant for the Grade 1, $400,000 Secretariat Stakes as well as multiple grouped winner Nyaleti for the Grade 1, $600,000 Beverly D. 


Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Mildenberger has either won or placed in all seven of his career starts. The consistent 3-year-old son of Teofilo made his seasonal bow at Newmarket on April 18 in the Fielden Stakes, where he finished ahead of Kew Gardens, who took the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp last Saturday. Last time out, he was second in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes behind eventual Group 1 Coral Eclipse winner Roaring Lion.  


“He’s a very nice horse,” Johnston said. “He’s had a foot abscess issue since the Dante. Prior to the Derby he was in similar form as Dee Ex Bee and we thought he’d be heading into Group 1 level.”


Johnston indicated that while the horse is possible for the Secretariat, he is “50-50 at best”. The Group 3 Qatar Gordon Stakes at Goodwood Racecourse on Aug. 3 is also under consideration for Mildenberger.


The Beverly D. is a “principle target” for Nyaleti, according to Johnston. This 3-year-old daughter of Arch won the Group 2 German 1,000 Guineas at Dusseldorf on May 27. Last time out, she was fourth in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket behind Alpha Centauri (IRE). As a 2-year-old, Nyaleti won the Group 3 Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes last July.


“It still justifies that she is able to compete at the level,” Johnston said of Nyaleti’s most recent effort. “I don’t think the ground matters for Nyaleti and that’s what makes her such a good candidate to travel with. She can run on just about any type of ground.”


Other possible entrants for the International Festival of Racing stakes events are as follows:


Arlington Million; 1¼ Miles (Turf); 3-Year-Olds and Up: Spring Quality, Deauville (IRE), Oscar Performance, Divisidero, Almanaar, Robert Bruce (CHI) and Catcho En Die (ARG)


Beverly D.; 1 3/16 Miles (Turf), Fillies and Mares 3-Years-Old and Up: Daddys Lil Darling, Dona Bruja (ARG), Ultra Brat, Prado’s Sweet Ride and Hallie Belle


Secretariat Stakes; 1¼ Miles (Turf); 3-Year-Olds: Real Story, Analyze It, Sniper Kitten, Captivating Moon, Free Drop Billy, Untamed Domain and Platinum Warrior


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