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New York, Delaware dominate Arlington’s International Festival of Racing

Bob Kieckhefer rounds up the Arlington Million undercard stakes:

It’s the International Festival of Racing but the winners of the biggest stakes on the undercard ran their previous races in Delaware and New York.

Oscar Performance scored his second straight Grade 1 win Saturday in the Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds over the Arlington Park turf, stalking the pace until the field hit the stretch, then drawing off to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

Europeans ran second and third in the Secretariat as Taj Mahal, a Galileo colt with only one win to his credit, rallied strongly in the final furlong to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of the other invader, Afandem.

Making matters far worse of the European contingent, Permian, the second-favorite in the race, took a bad step and fell after passing the wire, badly injuring his left front leg, and was euthanized. Jockey William Buick was hospitalized for tests but reportedly was not seriously injured.

Buick did not have a pleasant trip to the Chicago area. His mount in the Arlington Million, Scottish, was scratched Thursdaywith a fetlock injury and his fall in the Secretariat jeopardized his plans to ride Sunday in a Group 1 race in Berlin.

Oscar Performance, a Kitten’s Joy colt owned by Amerman Racing Stables and trained by Brian Lynch, won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. In his two races leading up to the Secretariat, he won the Grade 3 Penine Ridge and the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, both in New York.

“You’re never confident until the finish line,” said winning owner John Amerman. “But they were very good horses, and so we’re delighted Jose (Ortiz Jr.) could ride so well and beat him. I said good luck because he knows the horse and has ridden him ever since his first race.”

Ryan Moore, who rode Taj Mahal, said, “I got the trip I wanted. The horse ran well.”

And Frankie Dettori said his mount, Afandem, “hasn’t encountered these kinds of bends (turns). You have to race into them and race off them and he’s not used to those kinds of things and lost all his momentum on the turns and that cost me.”

Dacita led a sweep for the Americans in the $600,000 Grade 1 Beverly D. for fillies and mares. With Irad Ortiz Jr. up, the 6-year-old Chilean-bred, by Scat Daddy, came four wide into the stretch to get around the leaders and won by a half-length after a long battle with the favorite, Dona Bruja. Grand Jete was third, another 1 1/4 lengths in arrears.

The more highly regarded of the Europeans, Rain Goddess, second in the Group 1 Irish Oaks in her last start, pressed the early pace but then faded to finish eighth in the 10-horse field. Sarandia, representing Germany, was off slowly and never made an impression, passing tired rivals to finish sixth.

“I got a perfect trip,” Ortiz said. “I got the one hole and broke out of there and got close I didn’t want to be too far. I saved all the ground and she was there for me.”

Dacita finished second in her seasonal bow, the Grade 3 Beaugay at Belmont Park, the was a close sixth in the Grade 2 New York, finishing behind two of her rivals in the Beverly D. She started her career in her native Chile.

It was the fourth Beverly D. victory for Chad Brown and started a profitable double with the Arlington Million for the trainer.

The Grade 3 American St. Leger, run at 1 11/16 miles, was an all-American affair this year despite the fact it was created to appeal to European owners and trainers who typically race longer distances.

Postulation, a 5-year-old Harlan’s Holiday gelding, waited patiently in a stalking position in the St. Leger, moved to the leader a half-mile out and kept going, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over late-running Taghleeb. The favorite, Keystoneforvictory, made a mild bid through the stretch but settled for third, another 1 1/2 lengths back.

Postulation, with Jorge Vargas Jr. up, finished the marathon in 2:49.45. He came to the race fresh off a 6-length victory in the Cape Henlopen at Delaware Park although he started his career in Ireland.

“I wanted to relax him,” Vargas said. “That was the plan since it was such a long race, but he wanted to be on the pace. When I asked him, he just took off.”

Winning trainer Eddie Graham said he was confident Postulation could handle the distance because after the 1 1/2-mile Cape Henlopen, jockey Alex Cintron had trouble pulling him up. “I didn’t think there was a question and I thought he would get it done,” Graham said.

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