This year’s Arlington Million lineup has attracted some eye-catching horses from across the globe. America sends defending champion Little Mike to the post against two solid European challengers: Mull of Killough and Grandeur. The South African sensation, The Apache, is also a force to be reckoned with this year. The international contingent deepens further with the globetrotting, Hunter’s Light, who has competed in various countries in his five 2013 starts.
Seven year old bay gelding Mull of Killough has had a sound season with three starts, one win, and a runner-up effort. He won his seasonal debut with a 1 ½ length score in Newmarket’s Earl of Sefton Stakes (GIII) over good to firm going. In his only finish out of the top three, he crossed the wire fifth best in the contentious International Cup (GI) in Singapore.
In Mull of Killough’s most recent outing, he finished second in the Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes (GII). The bay seemed to be a certain winner when he took charge of the lead midstretch. However, Aljamaaheer and a couple others came up on the outside shortly thereafter. After he surrendered the lead to Aljamaaheer, he seemed to lose some of his staying power. Nonetheless, Mull of Killough had the ability to fend off other opponents passing the final post.
Grandeur has only two performances on his 2013 résumé – a fourth in the Princess of Wales’s Boylesports.com Stakes (GII) and an impressive second to Mukkadram in the York Stakes (GII). The elegant grey proved a powerful challenge to Mukkadram in deep stretch by striving persistently for the lead. He could not pass but earned himself respect for future races.
Grandeur in Arlington Park's morning works - Photo courtesy Tom Ferry
The Apache at schooling at Arlington Park - Photo courtesy Tom Ferry
A handsome example of horseflesh, The Apache demands attention as he sallies through his work at Arlington. He was one of trainer Mike de Kock’s premier horses during the Dubai World Cup Carnival. The Apache won his seasonal debut in the Al Rashidiya (GII) by ¾ lengths over the proven City Style. Then he placed well behind the exceptionally-gifted filly Sajjha on two occasions: first in the Jebel Hatta (GI) and then in the Dubai Duty Free (GI). After the Dubai Duty Free, The Apache shipped to Newmarket and didn’t race until late July. He returned in the York Stakes (GII) five lengths behind Mukhadram. After the long break, it would be reasonable to believe he needed this race. The Arlington Million has the potential to be the next career highlight for The Apache.
The Apache in Arlington Park's morning works - Photo courtesy Tom Ferry
Hunter’s Light was also a popular horse in Dubai. The five year old Dubawi son won his first two starts in the Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (GII) and R3 (GI). In his third outing of 2013, Hunter’s Light could only finish seventh-best in the Dubai World Cup (GI). He followed this effort with a sixth in the International Cup and a third in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis-Bayerchs Zuchtreunen (GI) where he was defeated by 2 ¼ lengths.
Hunter's Light in Arlington Park's morning works - Photo courtesy Tom Ferry
Little Mike, winner of last year’s Million and the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI), started 2013 with two lackluster efforts in Dubai that culminated with an eleventh in the Dubai Duty Free. He made his stateside seasonal debut in Monmouth Park’s United Nations Stakes (GI) where he finished fourth to Big Blue Kitten by 3 ¼ lengths. The bay gelding is the decisive leader of this year’s American cast. He gave a respectable showing in the United Nations, and, historically, horses that have performed poorly in Dubai have come back to North America to run well.
Little Mike at the 2012 Breeders' Cup - BNB Photo