Godolphin’s Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (Grade I) winner Santin will face six fellow turf specialists, including Cannon Thoroughbreds’ 2021 Shoemaker Mile (GI) hero Smooth Like Strait, in Saturday’s 39th running of the $1 million Arlington Million (Grade I) at Churchill Downs.
Thanks to cooperation from Ellis Park, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Kentucky horsemen, the 1 1/8-mile Arlington Million, which annually attracts some of the nation’s elite turf stars age 3-years-old and up, will be staged at Churchill Downs for the first time in a special stand-alone, one-day, summertime event at the historic Louisville racetrack. Previously, it was run at Arlington Park until the racetrack closed in 2021.
Saturday will mark only the third time in Churchill Downs’ 148-year history that racing at the home of the Kentucky Derby will take place in August. In 1983-84, Churchill Downs hosted extended 93-day Spring Meets that ran from late April through Labor Day.
The first race Saturday is 12:45 p.m. and the Arlington Million will go as the finale at 6:25 p.m.
Saturday’s unique 11-race program will be co-headlined by the $500,000 Beverly D. (GI) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The Beverly D is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Filly & Mare Turf Division” race. The card will also include the $200,000 Fort Larned Stakes and the $200,000 Lady Tak Stakes.
In the Arlington Million, Santin will return to Churchill Downs where he narrowly defeated Mira Mission in the $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day. He will attempt to join Count Again (Frank E. Kilroe Mile and Shoemaker Mile), Cyberknife (Arkansas Derby and Haskell), Jackie’s Warrior (Churchill Downs and A.G. Vanderbilt), Life Is Good (Pegasus World Cup and Whitney), Nest (Ashland and Coaching Club American Oaks) and Regal Glory (Jenny Wiley and Just a Game) as dual U.S. Grade I winners in 2022.
Trained by Brendan Walsh, Santin most recently had an eventful sixth-place finish in the $750,000 Manhattan (GI) where he had an unexpected shoe repair in the paddock and was defeated 5 ¼ lengths by Tribhuvan (FR). Santin has been preparing for the Arlington Million at Saratoga but arrived at Churchill Downs last Thursday and recorded a solid three-furlong move in :36.80 Monday morning outside Beverly D. competitor Family Way. Eight-time Churchill Downs leading rider Tyler Gaffalione will be aboard Santin from post No. 6.
California-based Smooth Like Strait will attempt to score his eighth-career victory as one of the likely top betting interests. The ultra-consistent 5-year-old son of Midnight Lute finished 2 ¼-lengths behind Count Again in his attempt at a repeat victory in the $500,000 Shoemaker Mile (GI). Through 21 starts, Smooth Like Strait sports eight runner-up finishes and three third-place efforts with earnings of $1,581,573. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Smooth Like Strait led nearly every step of the way in last year’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) but was nailed at the wire by Space Blues (IRE). Smooth Like Strait has been based at McCarthy’s Churchill Downs barn since Aug. 2 and completed his major work for the Arlington Million on Saturday with a swift half-mile move in :47.80. He’ll be ridden by John Velazquez from post 4.
Another top horse that entered the Arlington Million is Juddmonte’s homebred Set Piece (GB). The 10-time winner has four wins from five starts beneath the Twin Spires that includes victories in last year’s $130,000 Opening Verse, $110,000 Douglas Park Overnight Stakes and $300,000 Wise Dan (GII). Set Piece sports one victory this year when he stormed from off the pace to win the $250,000 Dinner Party (GII) at Pimlico. Set Piece will be ridden by 2015 Arlington Million winner Florent Geroux from post 1.
Trainer Chad Brown will attempt to win his record-extending fifth Arlington Million with Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Sacred Life (FR). The classy 7-year-old ridgling defeated nine rivals in the $162,000 Monmouth Stakes (GIII) on June 18. As a 6-year-old, Sacred Life defeated fellow Arlington Million rival Field Pass in the $150,000 Knickerbocker (GIII) at Belmont Park. Sacred Life will be ridden by Manny Franco from post 2.
Here’s the complete field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Set Piece (GB) (Geroux, Cox); Sacred Life (FR) (Franco, Brown); Field Pass (Rey Gutierrez, Mike Maker); Smooth Like Strait (Velazquez, McCarthy); Megacity (Gerardo Corrales, Mike Maker); Santin (Gaffalione, Walsh); Admission Office (Brian Hernandez Jr., Brian Lynch); Cavalry Charge (David Cohen, Dallas Stewart); and Cellist (Corey Lanerie, Rusty Arnold).
The Arlington Million will be conducted in Lane 1 on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Fans can still purchase tickets for Arlington Million Day. For ticket options and more information, visit www.churchilldowns.com.
Wagering is available for the Arlington Million and every race from Churchill Downs on www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Inc. and the Kentucky Derby.