Horse Racing

Robert Bruce rallies to Arlington Million victory

Chilean-bred earned his first North American Grade 1 win

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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ARLINGTON, USA — The Arlington Million (G1T) is the centrepiece of the Chicagoland track's “International Festival of Racing,” and it never was more international than this year's edition run on Saturday August 11.

Robert Bruce, a Chilean import with a Scottish name and a New York trainer, rallied stoutly outside his rivals to win by a half-length over stablemate Almanaar and immediately was presented with an engraved silver invitation to the Japan Cup (G1) in Tokyo.

A four-year-old colt by Fast Company, Robert Bruce raced near the back of the nine-horse Million field with Irad Ortiz Jr in the irons. At the quarter pole, he had only two rivals beaten, but he was in full flight and scored with a well-timed move down the centre of the course.

British raider Century Dream finished third but was disqualified to fourth for interference after he drifted in the stretch. Catcho En Die was promoted to third.

The Million favourite, Oscar Performance, was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Jose Ortiz after he took a bad step. He walked into a horse ambulance without apparent distress, and early reports were positive.

Robert Bruce finished the 1 1/4 miles on firm turf, upgraded from good earlier in the day, in 2:02.29. Spring Quality and Divisidero were scratched.

The winner, owned and bred by Haras Convento Viejo, was undefeated in six starts in his native Chile and won four group 1 races there. Sent to trainer Chad Brown, he won the Fort Marcy Stakes (G3T) at Belmont Park on May 5 in his first US start, then finished sixth with a rough trip in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1T) June 9.

“It's a tradition in Chile that the winner of the classics there is sent to the United States,” said Haras Convento Viejo's Carlos Lavin. “I hope we can open a market for Chilean horses in the United States.”

Lavin said there are many potential American runners in Chile, although he admitted Robert Bruce is a “once in a lifetime” standout. Still, he said, “We brought him here because we could not sell him here.”

In addition to the Tiffany trophy, the Million winner was handed a silver tray, engraved with an invitation to the Japan Cup and noting there is a US$2-million bonus for a Million-Japan Cup “double”. Japan Racing Association president and CEO Masayuki Goto attended the Arlington races Saturday to present the invitation and told Lavin, “You should come.”

“We will see,” Lavin responded. “When is the race?”

The Japan Cup is on November 25-22 days after the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) at Churchill Downs. Robert Bruce earned a “Win and You're In” berth in the Breeders' Cup starting gate via the Million victory.

“He's got an unbelievable kick,” Brown said of Robert Bruce. “But so did the losing horse. They both ran tremendous.”

Brown said he hasn't decided on a course for Robert Bruce and has some sorting out to do among his turf runners. In the three grade 1 races on the Arlington card, Brown-trained horses finished second in the Secretariat for three-year-olds; first, second, third, and fifth in the Beverly D for fillies and mares; and first, second, and fifth in the Million.

He said if Robert Bruce does run before the Breeders' Cup, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1T) at Belmont September 29 is a possibility.

“I feel guilty, because so many of the people who make this possible are back home working,” Brown said. “I bring my horses here and I love it. You have to have the horses, and you have to have the people to work with.

“This is one of the greatest places in the world to race horses.”

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