Timeform US Preview: Mondialiste up for the Million
The world's first one-million dollar horse race – first staged way back in 1981 – this year sees the 34th renewal of the Arlington Million. Now, the astute among you will quickly realise that the numbers don't quite add up here. Continually mired in politics, Illinois racing has – and continues to have – a rather chequered and storied existence. Arlington Park actually closed down at the end of its 1997 racing season and didn't reopen until 2000, when the Million was run for the one and only time for a prize of two million dollars – go figure, as our American cousins say.
Anyway, enough of the history lesson and down to the business of finding the winner of this year's race. As usual, a strong – if not top-class – contingent of European-trained raiders are shipping in to try and take the race back across the Atlantic. Mondialiste, Tryster, Decorated Knight and Deauville make up the four-pronged European assault on this year's race.
Mondialiste has done nothing wrong in two North American forays, winning the Woodbine Mile in Canada and then running a highly-creditable second to Tepin in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Keeneland last year. He proved his stamina for this ten-furlong trip when narrowly losing out to Time Test in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes last time – a welcome return to form after two below-par efforts.
Pigeon-holed throughout most of his career as an all-weather specialist, Tryster proved he could be equally effective on turf when winning the Jebel Hatta during the winter in Dubai. In the absence of Solow, Tryster was sent off favourite to win the Dubai Turf on World Cup night, but found his late-closing style somewhat compromised against stronger opposition. While a wide draw should be no issue here given Tryster's make-up, luck in running will be paramount.
A Listed winner at Goodwood in May, Decorated Knight then struggled to handle the contours of Epsom when a slightly unlucky second in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes. Compensation was quickly gained, however, when he took the Meld Stakes at the same level last time out at Leopardstown. A solid performer, it won't take a huge chunk of improvement for Decorated Knight to progress enough to win this.
Three-year-old Deauville represents the younger generation, having already recorded a top-level win when taking the Belmont Derby in New York last time. Second in the Dante, Deauville then disappointed at Epsom before getting back on track under a canny Jamie Spencer ride at Belmont. With the widest draw of all, Deauville will need to have improved off that effort in what was a weak Grade 1, but given his connections, that is far from unfeasible.
The home defence is headed by World Approval and reigning Arlington Million Champion The Pizza Man. World Approval was third to Flintshire two starts ago in the Manhattan Stakes at Belmont and didn't need to improve on that performance to win the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park next time.
The Pizza Man took this race last year, but was in the form of his life back then, and hasn't looked quite the same horse in three starts so far in 2016. He was particularly disappointing in Grade 3 company last time, and it could be that this seven-year-old's best days are now behind him. The rest of the North American contingent look up against it.
To sum up, this isn't a particularly strong renewal, and even Decorated Knight's Group 3-winning form is almost of the required standard. However, Tryster and Mondialiste look the ones to concentrate on, with the more tactically-versatile Mondialiste given the vote, particularly as he is already a proven traveller to these shores, with a pair of very smart North American efforts to his name.
Weight-Adjusted Timeform Ratings:
134 Decorated Knight
134 World Approval
132 The Pizza Man
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