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Irish-bred Mondialiste wins Arlington Million by a neck

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Irish-bred Mondialiste thrives in the United States.

The 6-year-old won the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Saturday, earning a berth into the Breeders’ Cup when jockey Daniel Tudhope guided the bay horse through a three-wide finish to edge Kasaqui by a neck.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better run really,” Tudhope said. “It was perfect.”

Mondialiste, who went off as the 4-1 third choice, broke from the outside in the 1 1/4-mile turf race outside Chicago. He won the Woodbine Mile last year and finished second in the Breeders’ Mile.

Now the David O’Meara-trained miler has a spot in the Breeders’ Turf.

“We stepped him up to a mile and a quarter at York (in England) and he ran a really good race,” O’Meara said. “Once we saw that he handled the trip OK, we had this race in the back of our mind. We thought we’d bring him over because he performed so well this side of the water last year.”

The son of Galileo paid $10.80, $6.40 and $4.80. Kasaqui of Argentina returned $13.20 and $9.40 and Irish-bred Deauville paid $7.00 to show despite a poor outside draw.

“My horse had a pretty good run,” Deauville jockey Seamie Heffernan said. “He was the only 3-year-old in the race. In a lovely position, got around the two into the straight and two other horses just came and got me.”

O’Meara said they planned to send Mondialiste to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 4-5.

“I don’t see any reasons not to come back again,” he said.

Take the Stand set the pace and still led into the final turn before fading.

Florent Geroux rode World Approval to seventh. French jockey was attempting to sweep the day after winning the three earlier graded stakes races.

Illinois-bred The Pizza Man finished sixth after winning last year.

Riders faced a headwind on the stretch run in the 11-horse race on the firm grass track. Decorated Knight scratched in the morning and Dubai Sky was ordered scratched by stewards when he refused to be reshod after losing a shoe.

The three other grades stakes races belonged to Geroux and his morning-line favorites.

The Chicago resident rode France’s Sea Calisi to a big kick on the stretch run to take the $700,000 Beverly D. for fillies, the 4-year-old’s first Grade 1 victory. Al’s Gal finished 1 1/2 lengths back in the 1 3/16-mile race.

Geroux guided Beach Patrol, like Sea Calisi trained by Chad Brown, past Long Island Sound in a stretch duel in the $450,000 Grade 1 Secretariat for 3-year-olds. The Kentucky colt took the 1 1/4-mile race by a head for his third win of 2016 and his first career graded stakes win.

Geroux rode Da Big Hoss to the lead just past the quarter pole to take the $300,000 Grade 3 American St. Leger, Arlington’s longest race at 1 11/16 miles.

The Kentucky-bred thoroughbred pulled away in the final furlong to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Ireland’s Clondaw Warrior. It was the 5-year-old’s sixth straight win in staked races of more than 1 1/4 miles.

Geroux, who turned 30 last month, couldn’t complete the sweep and take the Million for the second straight year after riding The Pizza Man in 2015.

“I was right there into the first turn,” Geroux said. “When they picked it up, he just spit the bit and couldn’t keep up.”

Wood Memorial boosts purse to attract top horses

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NEW YORK — The Wood Memorial purse could increase to $1 million as part of a bonus created to entice the top 3-year-olds to run in the Kentucky Derby prep on April 7.

New York Racing Association officials said Saturday that the presence of any horse in the field with a previous Grade 1 or Group 1 victory would increase the purse from $750,000 to $1 million if the qualifying horse starts. In that case, the winner would receive $590,000, the runner-up would earn $190,000 and third would be worth $90,000.

The Wood is run at 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct. The race is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep series that awards 100 points to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth. The top 20 horses on the leaderboard earn starting spots in the Derby on May 5.

Jack Van Berg dies at 81

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Jack Van Berg, a Hall of Fame trainer who oversaw Alysheba to victories in the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, died Wednesday. He was 81.

He died in a Little Rock, Arkansas, hospital, according to a spokeswoman for Oaklawn Park, where Van Berg had relocated his training base after leaving Southern California in 2013. No cause was given.

Van Berg ranks fourth all-time among trainers in North America, with 6,523 victories from 41,164 starts, according to Equibase. He had career purse earnings of $85,925,482.

In the Derby, Alysheba and jockey Chris McCarron were nearly knocked down at the top of the stretch by Bet Twice. Alysheba recovered and won despite having just one career victory before the Run for the Roses. Alysheba won the Preakness to set up a try for the Triple Crown but finished fourth in the Belmont.

As a 4-year-old, Alysheba won the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic and went on to earn the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.

Van Berg saddled Gate Dancer to victory in the 1984 Preakness. That same year, he earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer.

Van Berg was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1985. His father, trainer Marion Van Berg, already was there, having entered in 1970.

From 1959-77, Van Berg was the leading trainer at Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1976, he won a record 496 races and was the nation’s leading trainer, with $2,976,196 in purse earnings.

In 1987, Van Berg became the first trainer to win 5,000 races when he saddle Art’s Chandelle to victory at Arlington Park outside Chicago.

He trained in Southern California for 41 years until moving to Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Arkansas, after Hollywood Park closed in December 2013. Van Berg blamed the cities of Inglewood and Los Angeles and the state of California for the track’s closure.

“I just think it’s a pathetic thing,” he said at the time. “It’s ridiculous to let something like this that so many people love and thrive on close. They did everything they could to kill racing. I’ve had enough. I don’t like California racing anymore. I don’t like the way they run it and what they do.”

Van Berg mentored Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who began as an assistant to him.

Born June 7, 1936, in Columbus, Nebraska, John Charles Van Berg began training for his father in the 1960s. The elder Van Berg trained nearly 1,500 winners but was more successful as an owner, winning 4,691 races and $13,936,965. He was the first inductee of the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame, and his son followed him.