The scene was simply surreal.
The lights on the infield toteboard were flashing.
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A packed house that just minutes earlier had witnessed a stirring battle to the wire was suddenly deathly quiet.
Out on the track, the two combatants circled and circled near the winner's circle while their connections mulled together, nervously awaiting a final decision.
Who would be the winner of the 31st running of the Arlington Million?
Initially, it was The Apache by a head, but then a head-on replay of the race was shown, and suddenly the result didn't seem nearly as cut and dry.
The replay showed that The Apache, running along the rail, had continuously bumped -- not hard, mind you -- but bumped into Real Solution down the stretch, pushing the Chad Brown-trainee farther and farther out toward the center of the track in the shadow of the wire.
The minutes continued to tick away, and then finally …
"Ladies and gentlemen," track announcer John Dooley said, about to the end the suspense. "We have a disqualification."
That brought a mix of cheers and groans from the 34,222 on hand, but nothing but high-fives and hugs among the connections of Real Solution.
And no one was more excited than owner Ken Ramsey, who had himself one heck of a day, one that featured his Big Blue Kitten winning the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, his Admiral Kitten staking the Secretariat, and now Real Solution in the Million becoming just the third horse in 31 runnings to win the race via a disqualification of the winner.
"In the stretch I was watching the head bobs going 'yes, no, yes, no, and then … no,'" Ramsey said. "I thought we had lost the race.
"But then I saw the head-on replay, and I thought (The Apache) was going to come down because he kept pushing us out."
He wasn't the only one.
"At the top of the stretch I had plenty of horse to go by and the other horse bumped us more than four times and made me lose my momentum," winning jockey Alan Garcia said. "If that didn't happen we might have won by two or three lengths."
His counterpart aboard The Apache, jockey Christophe Soumillon, could not have disagreed more.
"As you can see, we were the better horse, but he got scared by the (infield video) screen and shifted out," Soumillon said. "You see my horse was on the lead and got a little unbalanced. The (infield video) screen scared him, but we were the best horse."
The record books will beg to differ.
Speaking of records, defending champion Little Mike, looking to become the first horse to win back-to-back Millions, set the early pace before fading to sixth under jockey Joel Rosario.
"It wasn't meant to be," owner Carlo Vaccarezza said. "Joel told me there was a lot of pressure and the other horses kept rushing him and rushing him. It's just racing luck."
Longshot Side Glance (24-1) finished a hard-charging third, with Jamie Spencer aboard.
"I had a beautiful run until the straight and then they played bumper cars in front of us," Spencer said. "I was following Little Mike, and then The Apache chopped him off, so I lost my momentum."
Ho-hum, just another surreal finish to a surreal Million.