SECRETARIAT STAKES | PURSE: $400,000 | GRADE: 1 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 1/4 MILES
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Treasure Beach did nothing to discourage the proposition that he was the best horse ever sent overseas to run in the Secretariat Stakes, running down loose-on-the-lead Ziyarid to win by a neck Saturday at stormy Arlington Park.
His victory made trainer Aidan O'Brien a two-time Secretariat winner and gave the Europeans just their third victory in the Grade 1, $400,000 turf race for 3-year-olds. Jockey Colm O'Donoghue won in his first race at Arlington Park.
Treasure Beach always was prominent as Ziyarid set out for the lead and backed up the fractions over a turf course turned yielding by heavy rain early in the afternoon. O'Donoghue anticipated the sluggish tempo and said he would have let Treasure Beach make the running had no foe been willing to lead. As it was, Treasure Beach kept close tabs on Ziyarid as he set fractions of 25.43 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 50.09 to the half, and 1:14.69 for three-quarters, with O'Donoghue poised to play his hand before coming into the stretch.
"Before I turned in," O'Donoghue said, asked when he felt he could catch the leader.
Treasure Beach poked his head in front at about the eighth pole but, O'Donoghue said, was content to merely keep Ziyarid at Bay rather than drawing off.
"He's a horse who just does enough," said O'Donoghue.
Treasure Beach, by Galileo and out of the Mark of Esteem mare Honorine, and bred in Great Britain by the Ashley House Stud, won for the fifth time in 10 starts, and scored his second Grade or Group 1 victory of the season. After suffering a tough beat in the Epsom Derby, where he was nipped on the wire by Pour Moi, Treasure Beach came back to win the Irish Derby by three-quarters of a length, but followed that with a somewhat flat fourth in the Grand Prix de Paris on July 14 at Longchamp. That performance might have given hope to the top American contenders in the Secretariat, but O'Brien had Treasure Beach right again Saturday, and the 3-2 favorite delivered. He paid $5 to win, and was timed in 2:03.91 for 1 1/4 miles. The winner is owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Michael Tabor.
Ziyarid, racing in his first Group or Grade 1, acquitted himself admirably, staying on gamely once challenged by the winner and finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Banned.
"He was very relaxed in front, and he had a nice rest on the turn," said jockey Christophe Lemaire. "He fought very well with Treasure Beach."
Garrett Gomez maneuvered Banned into the position he desired, tucking in behind horses for the run down the backstretch, but Banned still pulled exceedingly hard on the reins. He probably sapped energy fighting his rider and had no late punch to reach the winners.
"My arm is still sore," Gomez said 10 minutes after the race.
Willcox Inn finished fourth in his bid to sweep the Mid-America Triple at Arlington, where he had won the Arlington Classic and American Derby this summer. Willcox Inn seemed likely to press or stalk the early pace, but wound up well behind the leader before making a move on the far turn.
"With that kind of pace, I'm expecting him to be pulling me up there," said jockey Robby Albarado.
Behind Willcox Inn came Casino Host, Newsdad, Derby Kitten, and Suntracer. L'Aiglon was pulled up and vanned off the course.