Little Mike led from start to finish to win the 30th running of the Arlington Million on Saturday.
Britain’s Afsare closed fast but finished 1-1/2 lengths back in second. Rahystrada and Colombian tied for third.
Ramon Dominguez steered Little Mike right to the lead from the No. 4 post position in the 11-horse race at Arlington Park.
”He was running very comfortable,” Dominguez said. ”Turning for home, when I decided to let him run, he beautifully started opening up.”
Little Mike is owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza and trained by Dale L. Romans. He ran 1-1/4 miles on turf in 2 minutes, 2.44 seconds and returned $9.80 for a $2 win bet. The gelding has won six of his nine starts since he joined Romans’ barn.
”I felt good about him,” Romans said. ”He’s training so well. His two best races were a mile-and-1/8, and nobody thought he could do a mile-and-1/8.”
Afsare, ridden by Kieren Fallon, was antsy just before post position time, rearing up at one point and knocking over a side rail near the gate. Afsare eventually settled down and showed his speed.
”His antics didn’t cost him,” Fallon said. ”He just acts like a spoiled child sometimes and didn’t want the gate.”
Rahystrada had Julien Leparoux on board. Colombian had William T. Buick in the saddle.
Irish-bred favorite Crackerjack King was near the front at the head of the stretch but settled for fifth. The race featured five European-bred horses.
Two other Grade 1 races were contested on the turf at Arlington Park on Saturday.
I’m A Dreamer held off late-charging Marketing Mix to win by a head in the $750,000 Beverly D. Britain’s Joviality was third in the 1-3/16-mile race.
I’m A Dreamer was in fifth approaching the stretch, while Marketing Mix was in sixth, but both horses charged to the front, with I’m a Dreamer hanging on for the victory.
Favorite Aruna was last in the 10-horse field.
I’m A Dreamer paid $14.60.
French-bred Bayrir won the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes by 1-1/4 lengths over Finnegans Wake. Summer Front was in front at the head of the stretch but finished third.
Ridden by Christophe Lemaire, Bayrir paid $8.40, The favorite, Silver Max, finished fifth.
”When I put him out, he reacted very well,” Lemaire said. ”He’s a very clever horse.”