Santin Sails Clear In Transplanted Arlington Million At Churchill Downs, To Aim For BC Mile - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Santin Sails Clear In Transplanted Arlington Million At Churchill Downs, To Aim For BC Mile

Santin (left) winning the Arlington Million at Churchill Downs under Tyler Gaffalione

Godolphin's homebred Santin engaged front-running Smooth Like Straight at the top of the stretch, easily dispatched the rival, and drew clear to capture $1-million Arlington Million (G1) Saturday at Churchill Downs.

The race, first run in 1981 at Arlington Park, was staged at the Louisville track for the first time after Churchill Downs' Chicago-area track closed in 2021. Saturday's Million Day card included the Beverly D. (G1), won by Dalika, who earned an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) in November at Keeneland.

Santin won the Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby day over the same course and distance as the Million, but following that was a troubled sixth when jockey Tyler Gaffalione dropped his crop in deep stretch in the Manhattan (G1) June 11 at Belmont Park last time out. He had clear sailing in the long Churchill stretch with Gaffalione Saturday, shaking off Smooth Like Strait en route to winning by 1 3/4 lengths and finishing the Million's 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.88 on turf rated as good.

California-invader Smooth Like Strait set the pace with Santin glued to his right hip through fractions of :23.85, :47.43 and 1:10.64 for six furlongs. Leaving the turn, Santin asserted himself, grabbed the lead, and did not relinquish the advantage for his Million triumph.

“He's got some speed and when we saw how the Beverly D. was playing we thought we needed to sit a little closer,” Gaffalione said. “We were in a good spot and around the turn and (Smooth Like Strait) came out a little bit but I had a lot of horse beneath me. In the past we thought he may have underperformed in his races. We know how much talent he has and he showed that in the (Old Forester Bourbon) Turf Classic and here this afternoon in the Million. It's so special to win this race. Its history speaks for itself and I'm glad we are able to be a part of it.”

Smooth Like Strait held on for second, and Sacred Life finished third. Set Piece, the 2-1 favorite checked in fourth in the eight-horse field, followed by Cavalry Charge, Admission Office, Cellist,and Field Pass to complete the order of finish.

With Saturday's triumph, Santin became the seventh horse in 2022 to win two U.S. Grade 1 races this year, joining Count Again (Frank E. Kilroe Mile and Shoemaker Mile), Cyberknife (Arkansas Derby and Haskell), Jackie's Warrior (Churchill Downs and A.G. Vanderbilt), Life Is Good (Pegasus World Cup and Whitney), Nest (Ashland and Coaching Club American Oaks), and Regal Glory (Jenny Wiley and Just a Game).

A 4-year-old Distorted Humor colt out of the Medaglia d'Oro mare Sentiero Italia, Kentucky-bred Santin improved his career line to 4-2-0 from eight starts, which includes runner-up finishes in the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) in March at Fair Grounds and last fall's Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar, for trainer Brendan Walsh.

“I think the goal is the (FanDuel) Breeders' Cup Mile (G1),” Walsh said. “We've got a couple of options we'll talk about how to get there.”

Santin returned $6.90.

This story will be updated.

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