Duchossois’ Bev D. winner ready for Breeders’ Cup
Over the years, veteran trainer Ron McAnallly kept telling Richard Duchossois that some day the pair would team up to win the Beverly D., the illustrious race named after Duchossois' late wife and one of the three major stakes races highlighting Arlington Million Day.
Duchossois heard McAnally's words time and again, but did he really believe them?
"Sure," the track chairman said with a smile.
Good thing he did because it finally happened in August, and Éclair de Lune's victory in the Beverly D. not only provided the feel-good moment of the Arlington Park racing season for the 88-year-old Duchossois, but for the horse racing industry as well.
As he made his way down from his seat to the winner's circle that day at Arlington Park there were cheers, tears, hugs and backslaps everyone was happy for the stunned chairman.
"I was sort of dumbfounded by the reaction," Duchossois admitted. "Ron found the horse, trained the horse, got her all prepared for the Beverly D. and (jockey) Junior Alvarado gave it a great ride. They did all the work and I got some credit."
It was Duchossois' biggest win as a horse owner, one he said was even sweeter than if he had won the Kentucky Derby.
On Friday, Duchossois goes for Hallmark moment No. 2 when Éclair de Lune heads to post in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs. It's the first time Mr. D has run a horse in the Breeders' Cup.
"We're thrilled to be able to have a horse of that quality," he said. "Churchill Downs is like Arlington in a way, it's sort of a home track. And to win at a home track is always a little bit more exciting.
"I look at the Breeders' Cup as not necessarily my horse, but an Arlington horse. Although it's based in California, it's still an Arlington horse."
The 4-year-old went for a mile jog Monday morning at Churchill and McAnally sounded confident about her chances heading into Friday's race.
"We're just keeping her busy from here on out," he said. "We worked her a mile back home (Hollywood Park) before we came out here.
"She's ready to run in this race. She's ready to do her thing."
With morning-line odds of 15-1 and going against 10 other fillies, including prohibitive favorite Midday, Duchossois knows it won't be an easy task for Éclair de Lune to make it to the winner's circle for a second straight time.
But let's suppose lightning were to strike twice. Where would winning a BC race rank among his racing highlights?
"Second," Duchossois said, "but it would absolutely a thrill."
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