The Arlington Million tops a weekend of racing at Arlington International that includes Saturday’s $500,000 Beverly D. and Monday’s $250,000 Secretariat.
Steinlen, the 7-year-old English-bred owned by Daniel Wildenstein, is aiming to become the first to win the Million in successive years Sunday.
John Henry is the only two-time winner of the 1 1/4-mile grass event. The famed gelding won the inaugural Million in 1981 with Bill Shoemaker aboard, nosing out The Bart in the final jump.
John Henry skipped the 1982 running won by Perrault because of an injury, came back to finish second to Tolomeo in 1983 and won again in 1984.
As the defending champion, Steinlen is expected to go off as a 5-2 favorite, although in his last race, the 1 1/8-mile Bernard Baruch at Saratoga, he finished second to Who’s To Pay.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, however, is not disheartened.
“He’s been training well, and off his best he can win the Million again,” said Lukas.
Golden Pheasant, trained by Charlie Whittingham, is among those expected to challenge Steinlen. Whittingham has won the Million twice, with Perrault and Estrapade in 1986.
The Beverly D. is the richest turf race in the world for fillies and mares. Among the field of 12 are three stakes winners from Europe, including Magic Gleam and Alcando from England and Lady Winner from France.
Completing the field for the 1 3/16-mile race are Adira, Capades, Coolawin, Reluctant Guest, Double Wedge, Royal Touch, Gaily Gaily, Good Example and Lady In Silver. All will carry 123 pounds.
Capades, ridden by Angel Cordero, could be a slight favorite to take down the winner’s share of $300,000 in the wide-open race. The 4-year-old daughter of Overskate, a one-time champion in Canada, has earned more than $1 million while racing against the best.
In her most recent start, Capades raced against the males in the Caesars International Handicap and finished second to Steinlen.
Aside from the European invaders, other threats included Adira, Coolawin and Reluctant Guest in the third running of the event named in honor of the late wife of Arlington owner Richard L. Duchossois.
Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled is scheduled to make his grass debut Monday in the Secretariat.
Unbridled’s trainer, Carl Nafzger, said he got more than he expected from Unbridled in his first-ever workout on the grass earlier in the week.
“He adapted well to the turf,” said Nafzger. “He got hold of it and ran like he’s been on it before.”
Nafzger said Unbridled would not run Monday if turf conditions are mushy.
The favorite for the Secretariat, however, could be Warner L. Jones’ filly, Super Fan. She has been campaigning with success against the males and won the recent 1 3/16-mile Round Table at Arlington.