Secretariat loaded with American contenders
Of the four major stakes races on Saturday's International Festival of Racing program, the Grade I Secretariat leads the way with horses representing the red, white and blue flag.
Ten horses from the United States join three from across seas to contest the 1¼-miles $500,000 turf showcase, which serves as the third leg of the Mid-America Triple for 3-year old colts and geldings.
The American horses are trying to snap a two-year winning streak by the foreign invaders as France's Bayrir was a come-from-behind winner last year and England's Treasure Beach took the top prize in 2011.
The only other foreign invader to win in the race's 36-year history was France's Shamdinan in 2007.
"Absolutely, the most wide open Secretariat since I've been here (as racing secretary)," said Chris Polzin, who has been putting together the Arlington condition book since 2009. "It should provide fans some great betting opportunities."
Morningline favorite Jack Milton (3-1) has never been worse than third in 5 starts, including a win in the Grade III Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland. He was most recently third in the Grade II Virginia Derby at the same 1¼-mile distance. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of War Front was steadied in that race and lost by only a neck.
Rydilluc (9-2), also engaged traffic problems and ended up eighth as the favorite in the 10-horse Virginia Derby field. It was his first start at the 1¼-mile distance. Trained by Gary Contessa, the Grade III-winning son of Medaglia d'Oro won the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes and the $500,000 Penn Mile this year.
Draw Two (6-1) also ran in the Virginia Derby, finishing fourth after being bumped at the eighth pole. The closer has 2 wins, a second and a third in 5 starts.
Interestingly, the 2004 Secretariat champion Kitten's Joy has sired three of the sophomores running today. That trio includes Golden Jason (30-1), Admiral Kitten (5-1) and Amen Kitten (30-1).
Local rider E.T. Baird has been named to ride the late-running Amen Kitten, who has 1 win and 4 second-place finishes in 12 starts for trainer Wesley Ward.
Trainer Michael Maker's Admiral Kitten ran second as the favorite in the first two legs of the Mid-America Triple -- the Grade III Arlington Classic and the Grade III American Derby. The multiple-graded stakes-placed colt will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik for the first time.
Golden Jason (30-1) is making his stakes debut for trainer Gennadi Dorochenk, following off a third-place finish in a Delaware allowance race. He broke his maiden on the Arlington main track in May. Local rider Julio Felix will be in the saddle.
Bethel (30-1) will also have an Arlington rider in the saddle. Florent Geroux pilots the most experienced runner in the field with 15 starts.
The trio of Secretariat runners who have run only in Europe are Irish-bred First Cornerstone (8-1), French-bred Visiyana (12-1) and New York-bred Yeager (12-1). Yeager, sired by Medaglia d'Oro, recently won an Ascot handicap for trainer Jeremy Noseda.
First Cornerstone is a Group II winner (The Curragh's 2012 Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes) as a two-year-old while Visiyani twice finished among the top three in Group II events as a two-year-old and most recently won the Prix Banstar in his native France.
Rounding out the field are Stormy Len (15-1), Tottenham (10-1) and Balthazar (30-1).