A Million That Could Be ‘Oscar’ Worthy

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Oscar Performance winning the 2017 Secretariat | FourFootedFotos

By Alan Carasso

Though he has yet to saddle a winner of the race, trainer Brian Lynch would be well acquainted with what sort of animal it takes to win the GI Arlington Million.

The Australian cut his teeth in this country under the tutelage of trainer Bobby Frankel, who–somewhat remarkably–was not represented by a winner of America’s original seven-figure horse race until 2000, when Juddmonte Farms’ Chester House (Mr. Prospector) stormed away to a 3 1/4-length defeat of Manndar (Ire) (Doyoun {Ire}). Juddmonte supplied Frankel’s other Million winner (Beat Hollow {GB}, 2003).

Since going out on his own in 2006, Lynch has amassed nearly 600 career victories, including a Queen’s Plate courtesy of Shaman Ghost (Ghostzapper) and seven Grade Is. Two of those top-level tallies were notched by Amerman Racing LLC homebred Oscar Performance (Kitten’s Joy), who starts as the 3-1 favorite for Saturday’s Million, a ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Nov. 4.

Course-and-distance winner of the 2017 GI Secretariat S., the son of Devine Actress–herself a daughter of 1987 Million third Theatrical (Ire)–was a good third to last year’s Million hero Beach Patrol (Lemon Drop Kid) in the GI Turf Classic Invitational before closing the season with a ninth in the BC Turf. The bay has just one run under his belt this term, a spectacular success in the one-mile GIII Poker S. at Belmont in which he stopped the clock in a record 1:31.23.

“He’s got versatility,” Lynch told the Arlington notes team. “He can be on the lead or if there’s more pace he can sit just off it. The Arlington Million is just such a prestigious race and he’s going to be retired [to Mill Ridge] at the end of year so it would be nice to have a win in the race on his resume.”

In the Million, Oscar Performance will try to go one better than his sire, who finished runner-up at odds on in 2005 a year after defeating the Frankel-trained Greek Sun (Danzig) in the Secretariat. He would become the fourth to win the Secretariat and Million in consecutive years, joining Marlin, Kicken Kris and Beach Patrol.

Chad Brown was winning his second Million 12 months ago and has three chances to become the first trainer to go back-to-back in the 10-furlong test. Robert Bruce (Chi) (Fast Company {Ire}) will likely be the best-backed of the trio off a troubled-trip in the GI Woodford Reserve Manhattan S. in which he lost his momentum in heavy stretch traffic before closing fast once clear to finish sixth, a length behind Spring Quality (Quality Road), who enjoyed clear sailing throughout. The latter has the services of Hall of Famer Edgar Prado and has been specifically set for the Million since the Manhattan. The versatile Money Multiplier (Lookin At Lucky), a latest second to stablemate Funfair (More Than Ready) in the 11-furlong GI United Nations S., and Grade I winner Almanaar (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) are also not without their chances.

Euro shippers have won four of the last 10 Millions, and the overseas threesome is led by Deauville (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Sent out by two-time Million-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien, the bay rounded out the trifecta in 2016 and 2017 and, like last year, exits a narrow defeat in the G3 Meld S. at Leopardstown. Ryan Moore will be at the controls. Century Dream (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) won the G3 Diomed S. during the Derby/Oaks meeting at Epsom in June and Circus Couture (Ire) (Intikhab) is a Group 3 winner in Italy, but both look up against it from a class perspective on this stage.

 

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