Third in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes for trainer Dermot Weld on Arlington Million Day in 2018, Calumet Farm's Bandua scored his initial U.S. victory on Saturday in the G3 Arlington Handicap, coming from just off the pace under Adam Beschizza to win Arlington Park's prep race for the Aug. 10 G1 Arlington Million as the 8-5 favorite.
Argentine-bred The Great Day finished second for Lael Stables, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner, with Lothenbach Stables' Captivating Moon two lengths farther back in third and Bentley Combs' Botswana fourth in the field of 10 4-year-olds and up. The winner, a 4-year-old by the War Front stallion The Factor out of If Angels Sang, by Seattle Slew, was bred in Kentucky by Judy Hicks and Kathryn Nikkel. He carried 116 pounds in the Arlington, four less than high-weighted The Great Day, a multiple Group 1 winner in Argentina.
“He's been very unlucky,” Beschizza said after the Jack Sisterson trainee covered the 1 3/16 miles on firm turf in course record time of 1:53.16. The previous record of 1:53.20 was set by Reluctant Guest in 1990.
Winner of his first two outings in Ireland at 3, Bandua made his final three starts of 2018 in North America: finishing third behind Carrick in the Secretariat, fourth in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs and eighth in the G1 Canadian International at Woodbine. Transferred to Sisterson's care, Bandua's best finish this year was a runner-up effort to Synchrony in the G3 Fair Grounds Handicap. He came off a sixth place finish to Bricks and Mortar in the G1 Manhattan at Belmont Park on June 8 after setting the early pace.
El Picaro showed the way in the Arlington, setting fractions of :23.27, :47.80, 1:11.81 and 1:35.80. Bandua tracked in second place and took over at the top of the stretch to win easily.
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