Trainer Aidan O'Brien has been known for sending a strong hand from Ballydoyle to Arlington International Racecourse for the International Festival of Racing and this year appears to be no exception.
Three of O'Brien's four runners already have some experience in the United States under their belt. In the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million, Deauville (IRE) will return to America after back-to-back third-place finishes in the last two runnings of the Million. O'Brien will shoot for his third Arlington Million win after scoring with Powerscourt (GB) (2005) and Cape Blanco (GB) (2011).
Owned by Mrs. Firti Hay, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, the 5-year-old son of Galileo (IRE) finished three-quarters of a length behind Beach Patrol in last year's Million. Guided by jockey Ryan Moore, Deauville tucked in along the rail throughout the race and stalked a slow pace set by Illinois-bred Oak Brook. At the top of the stretch, Deauville was called on by Moore and took command but was unable to hold off a challenge from Beach Patrol and runner-up Fanciful Angel (IRE).
Deauville's effort in the 2016 edition of the Million was run in similar fashion where he tracked just behind a slow pace, but was on the outside of horses. At the top of the stretch, Deauville gained control but was outgunned by fellow European invader Mondialiste (IRE).
Deauville's American debut was a winning one when he shipped to Belmont Park for the 2016 Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational, which he won by a neck.
Since his last trip to the Chicagoland oval Deauville has made six starts, the most recent of which was a runner-up effort in the Group 3 ICON Meld Stakes at Leopardstown in his native Ireland. He faced a four-horse field in the July 19 outing and controlled the pace throughout most of the journey, but was beaten a neck behind Turret Rocks.
“He had a good run in Leopardstown last time and just got beat on the line,” O'Brien said. “He seems to be in good form and we're happy with him since then.”
Deauville is out of the Danehill mare Walklikeanegyptian (IRE) who was second in Arlington's Grade III Pucker Up Stakes in 2006. He is a half-brother to The Corsican (IRE), a Group 3 winner in England.
In the Grade I $600,000 Beverly D. O'Brien will be represented by Athena (IRE) who returns to the United States after a decisive victory in the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 7. The 3-year-old daughter of Camelot (GB) sat well off the pace under Ryan Moore and began inching her way closer to the front around the far turn. At the top of the stretch, Moore began asking Athena and she responded with a winning move and went on to win the Belmont Oaks by 2½ lengths at odds of 10-1. This victory took place only six days after she finished third in the Group 1 Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh, where she was beaten 5½ lengths behind Urban Fox (GB).
In addition, the Beverly D. will be Athena's ninth start in only four months. Her only other career win took place when she broke her maiden at seventh asking in her native Ireland at Fairyhouse Racecourse on May 31, which she won by a half-length.
“She's in good form and she had a little bit of time between all these events,” O'Brien said. “We're happy with what she's doing. She came back to Ballydoyle and she's here at the moment. We've been happy with everything since then, really.”
Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena is owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor. Her full sister is promising 2-year-old Goddess, who was an impressive maiden winner at Leopardstown on July 12. Both fillies are out of the Green Desert broodmare Cherry Hinton (GB).
Of the three Grade I events that make up the International Festival of Racing, the Beverly D. is the only one that O'Brien has yet to win.
O'Brien will be on double duty in the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes, which he has won a record of four times with Ciro (2000), Treasure Beach (GB) (2011), Adelaide (2014) and Highland Reel (IRE) (2015).
In the 1¼-mile turf event for 3-year-olds, he sends out Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Hunting Horn (IRE) after finishing third beaten 1¾ lengths in the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational on July 7 last time out behind Catholic Boy and Analyze It, the latter of which is also targeting the Secretariat.
The 3-year-old son of Camelot (GB) entered his United States debut off of a victory in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 21, which he won by 4½ lengths. Third time was the charm for Hunting Horn when breaking his maiden in his 3-year-old debut at Naas on April 13 where he defeated eventual Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner Latrobe by a neck.
Hunting Horn is out of the Indian Ridge (IRE) broodmare Mora Bai (IRE) who is a half-sister to two-time Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf winner High Chaparral (IRE).
O'Brien's other Secretariat aspirant is Lucius Tiberius (IRE) – the only member of the O'Brien quartet who has not raced in the United States. Named in honor of the fictional ancient Roman Procurator that appeared in multiple Arthurian novels, the 3-year-old son of Camelot (GB) will be attempting to pull a hat-trick after two victories in his native Ireland. In his most recent effort, Lucius Tiberius defeated older horses in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Nasrullah” Handicap at Leopardstown on July 12. He sat at the back of the pack in the 1¼-mile event and made a last-to-first move at the top of the stretch to win by a nose under jockey Donnacha O'Brien. His prior effort took place at The Curragh in the Paddy Power Onside Handicap, which he won by 2¼ lengths under Ryan Moore.
Owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier, Lucius Tiberius boasts a record of three victories in four starts over the 1¼-mile distance.
“Both are in good form,” O'Brien said of his Secretariat pair. “Hunting Horn has been in good form since his last run in America and Lucius Tiberius won at Leopardstown last time and he's in very good form, as well. The firmer ground the better. All of ours would like nice, fast ground, really.”
Jockey Ryan Moore will guide Deauville and Athena in the Arlington Million and Beverly D., respectively. He is also scheduled to be aboard one of O'Brien's two Secretariat runners.
All four horses are scheduled to ship on Monday, August 6.
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