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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.”

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.