One Spirit Victorious at Arlington Million
The Arlington Million was run on Saturday, 9 August 2008, for the twenty-sixth time at Arlington Park Racecourse. It was a race of unexpected victory and major upset, as Spirit One thundered down towards the wire, followed by race favorites Archipenko and Mount Nelson. Winning the Arlington Million has given Spirit One automatic entry into the, 25 October 2008, Breeders’ Cup and his first Group 1 victory. Trainer Philippe Demercastel and jockey Ioritz Mendizabal rejoiced in the magnificent performance by Spirit One, and commented that there is a good chance they will be back to take on the Breeders’ Cup.
Spirit One will be returning home shortly, back to France where he is based and where he was bred. Philippe Demercastel was hoping that Spirit One could use Sudan as a pace setter, giving him something to chase, but as Sudan was scratched due to a bowed tendon, Spirit One was left to fend for himself. His trainer was a little worried, as the four-year-old is known to shoot out into the lead early and the slowly start to fade throughout the duration of the race. But Ioritz, riding in the United States for the first time, wasn’t about to let this horse racing opportunity pass him by.
As the starting gates to the Arlington Million swung open, Einstein stumbled as he started his race, setting him back behind the field and damaging his bid to win this prestigious horse racing event. He managed to fight his way back, but had to settle for fifth position in the race. The Arlington Million finally came down to three horses, Spirit One, Archipenko and Mount Nelson. In the final stretch, Spirit One had remained in the lead, with Archipenko being boxed in against the rail by Mount Nelson and his jockey, Johnny Murtagh. When Archipenko finally got away from Mount Nelson, his valiant effort to catch the front runner saw him gaining tremendous ground, but it was too late as there was not enough time or distance for him. After the race, jockey Kevin Shea, riding Archipenko, raised his disappointment in Murtagh’s actions, saying: “Johnny had me trapped and when it was time to go, I begged him to let me go and he wouldn't let me through.” Shea also went on to say that Archipenko had so much speed and energy left, that if he was not held back he would have easily won the race. Archipenko’s trainer, Mike de Kock, also expressed his anger, telling the media that he had not seen a jockey acting so ungentlemanly in years and that there was no need for Murtagh to have boxed Archipenko in as he did.
The final results for the Arlington Million were: Spirit One, Archipenko, Mount Nelson, Silverfoot, Einstein, Stream Cat and Cloudy’s Knight. This horse racing event ended up being a fast paced battle that will be remembered for years, and many will be looking towards the Breeders’ Cup, curious to see if Spirit One is able to pull another spectacular win out the bag.