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Arlington Million a Return Engagement for These Two

Times Staff Writer

Two Arlington Million veterans are back for another shot at the Grade I today at Arlington Park.

The Tin Man, who finished sixth in the 2003 race, and Better Talk Now, who was fourth a year ago, are among the 10 older horses scheduled to go 1 1/4 miles on turf in the 24th Million. The card at Arlington includes the only two other Grade I’s that will be run in Illinois this year -- the $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies and mares and the $400,000 Secretariat for 3-year-olds.

Owned by breeders Ralph and Aury Todd and trained by Richard Mandella, who has never won the Million, The Tin Man has been rejuvenated at age 8. The Affirmed gelding has won three of four since Dec. 28, including a win as the favorite in the American Handicap in his last appearance on July 2 at Hollywood Park.

Victor Espinoza will ride The Tin Man, who has earned two of his 10 wins at 1 1/4 miles.

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Better Talk Now, best known for his 27-1 upset in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Lone Star Park in Texas, has won 12 of 34 for Bushwood Stables and trainer Graham Motion. He comes off a disappointing effort, however, in the United Nations on July 8 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.

The 7-year-old Talkin Man gelding finished fifth in that Grade I. English Channel and Cacique, who finished 1-2 that afternoon, are also running in the Million.

“I still believe he’s as good now as he has ever been,” Motion said. “In his last race, maybe things didn’t set up quite as we had hoped. [Jockey] Ramon [Dominguez] was kind of forced to go pretty wide on the turn and maybe move a little sooner than we would like to have done.”

Motion, however, pointed to the gelding’s win at Pimlico in the Dixie Stakes last May as “very impressive.”

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“He’s a lot more relaxed than he used to be and that is going to help him tremendously,” Motion said.

Trainer Bobby Frankel will be seeking his third win in the Million since 2000 with Cacique, who was beaten by half a length by English Channel in the United Nations after beating that rival by a head in the Manhattan Handicap about a month earlier at Belmont Park.

Edgar Prado will ride Cacique, a 5-year-old Danehill horse owned by breeder Juddmonte Farms Inc., and John Velazquez has the mount on English Channel, a 4-year-old Smart Strike colt who has won eight of 13 for owner James Scatuorchio and trainer Todd Pletcher. The $500,000 Sword Dancer, which will be run today at Saratoga, had also been considered for English Channel, but Pletcher opted for the Million a few days ago.

In the Beverly D., which goes at 1 3/16 miles on turf, trainer Patrick Biancone will be seeking his second consecutive victory in the race. Successful with Angara a year ago, Biancone will be represented by Gorella, who has a powerful stretch kick but is unproven beyond 1 1/8 miles.

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Motion will send out the consistent Film Maker, who has won eight of 24, and other top contenders include Rich In Spirit, Honey Ryder and Rising Cross.

A 6-year-old Dynaformer mare owned by Courtlandt Farms, Film Maker enters the Beverly D. off consecutive stakes wins at Calder and Colonial Downs. Dominguez will ride.

“I really wouldn’t trade places with anyone,” Motion said. “I know that line is used all the time, but I wouldn’t trade places. This mare is doing super right now.”

Only six are scheduled to run in the Secretariat with the field for the 1 1/4 -mile grass race topped by Showing Up.

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Owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables and trained by Barclay Tagg, the 3-year-old Strategic Mission colt won the Colonial Turf Cup by 3 1/4 lengths in his turf debut on June 24 at Colonial Downs.

Cornelio Velasquez will be aboard Showing Up, who has won four of five. His only loss came when he was sixth in the Kentucky Derby. He finished 10 lengths behind Barbaro, who is also owned by the Jacksons.

“As things stand now, I’ll probably keep him on turf,” Tagg said.

“We’ll see how he does. If he wins this race, I’ll probably try him against older horses to see if he can handle them. I don’t think distance will bother him at all and Velasquez doesn’t think anything will bother him.”

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