Brown in Arlington whitewash

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Brown in Arlington whitewash

ROBERT BRUCE wins the Million

Chicago – Robert Bruce was a star in his native Chile and after winning the Grade 1 Arlington Million in the US on Saturday is well on his way to becoming a star in America. But the brightest star at the Chicago race meeting was Robert Bruce’s trainer Chad Brown.

Robert Bruce proved 0.50 lengths better than stablemate Almanaar, giving Brown the big-race Exacta, his second Million win in a row – after Beach Patrol last year – and his third overall.

Forty-six minutes before the 2000m Million, Brown won the Grade 1 $600,000 Beverly D Stakes for the fourth year in a row, this time with Sistercharlie. Horses he trains also finished second, third, and fifth in the Beverly D. And, in the race before that, the Grade 1 Secretariat, Brown finished second by a neck with Analyze It.

“I love it here at Arlington,” Brown said. “We circle these races and we’ve been blessed to have horses good enough for them.”

Those are very polite words, like the plundering general waving a pleasant goodbye on the way out of a sacked city.

Brown struck his final blow Saturday with a handsome South American import, who might be unbeaten from nine starts had he found any luck June 7 in the Grade 1 Manhattan. After winning all six of his races in Chile by more than 28 combined lengths, and scoring four times at the Group 1 level, Robert Bruce was sent to the Northern Hemisphere and Brown’s yard by owner Carlos Lavin.

A four-year-old, Robert Bruce already had a big reputation when he won the Fort Marcy Stakes on May 5 in his first start for Brown.

Then came the Manhattan – appropriately named for all the congestion Robert Bruce encountered.

“There were so many horses in the race and he just couldn’t get out to the clear,” jockey Irad Ortiz said at the time.

With Divisidero an early scratching from the Million and Spring Quality scratched on Saturday morning after shipping poorly from Maryland, there was a field of nine, Robert Bruce moving in from post 10 to post 8.

Ortiz let him drop to the back of the pack while Joel Rosario on Almanaar tried to deal with his mount’s typical early over-exuberance. Rosario got Almanaar under control after 400m, but Ortiz didn’t have to work to settle his mount, who was professional all the way around.

“He does everything you want,” Ortiz said.

English raider Century Dream went to the front. “I thought there was a chance everyone would be looking at each other and nobody would go to the lead,” jockey William Buick said. “We were kind of an underdog in the race. I thought, ‘Let’s try our best and try to make something of it.’ ”

Century Dream’s attempt at a post-to-wire job fell apart when Brown’s pair picked up their pace. Almanaar, pulled wide and following favourite Oscar Performance around the far turn, made the first big move, but as Almanaar gained stride, Ortiz had Robert Bruce on the move behind him. Almanaar got to Century Dream at the eighth pole, but was quickly attacked from the outside by Robert Bruce, who had the momentum – and the win.

It was an eighth win from nine starts for Robert Bruce, who started as the second favourite and paid $7.20 for a Win.

The victory earned Robert Bruce automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Turf, plus travel expenses, but neither the Chilean-bred nor his sire, Fast Company, are Breeders’ Cup nominated. Robert Bruce can be made BC eligible with a $50,000 payment before July 15 or a $200,000 payment after that date.

The win also gained him automatic entry into the Japan Cup in Tokyo in November.

Century Dream finished third, two lengths behind Almanaar, but was demoted to fourth for hampering Catcho En Die. Then came Money Multiplier, Deauville, Twenty Four Seven, and Circus Couture.

Oscar Performance, the 19-10 favourite, was pulled up in the final 200m after taking missteps. He was walked into the horse ambulance without appearing lame to Arlington’s track vet and trainer Brian Lynch said there was no immediate evidence of injury.

“We watched him cool out here at the barn and everything seems intact,” Lynch said. “Obviously tomorrow morning will be the tell-tale, but as of right now it looks good.”

Both Almanaar and Robert Bruce are fresh horses for this time of year and Brown said he must decide whether to attempt to stretch them to 2400m for major US races in late summer. – drf.com

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