Robert Bruce Circles Field To Top Brown Exacta In Arlington Million

On Irad Ortiz, Jr.’s birthday this Saturday, Carlos Lavin’s Robert Bruce gave the jockey a $1 million gift in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. Robert Bruce, a 4-year-old son of Fast Company, came flying from the rear of the field to best stablemate Almanaar by a half-length on the wire, earning his first G1 win in the United States and the becoming the first Chilean-bred to win the Million. The second-choice at 5-2, Robert Bruce completed 1 1/4 miles over a turf course upgraded to “firm” in 2:02.29 to earn an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf.

The top two finishers are both trained by Chad Brown, who also won the G1 Beverly D on Saturday’s card with Sistercharlie. A jockey’s objection for interference in the stretch and a subsequent disqualification by the stewards switched the finish order of the third and fourth-placed horses, with the official third changed to Catcho En Die and fourth to Century Dream.

“The horse was doing so well, we were very positive, so thank God everything went perfect for us,” said Ortiz. “It’s great to ride a winner (on his 26th birthday).”

Favorite (9-5) Oscar Performance, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Jose Ortiz. He walked on to the horse ambulance under his own power. According to Arlington’s Twitter account, the on-track veterinarian saw no signs of distress and the van ride back to the barn was a precaution for Oscar Performance.

Century Dream was quick out of the starting gate, taking a one-length lead over Money Multiplier and Oscar Performance heading into the clubhouse turn. Following him were Circus Couture, Catcho En Die, Almanaar and eventual winner Robert Bruce, the latter third-from last around the first turn.

The leader cruised through fractions of :23.66 and :48.28, then six furlongs in 1:12.96, and Circus Couture still held the lead at the top of the stretch. Oscar Performance was hard-pressed to keep pace with Money Multiplier around the far turn, and neither of them were able to make up any ground as the field turned for home.

It wasn’t until mid-stretch that Oscar Performance was eased, shortly before Almanaar shook loose of the field and started making up ground. Robert Bruce and Ortiz were just outside their stablemate and gaining momentum with every stride. Almanaar took the lead at the sixteenth pole, but Robert Bruce ran him down to win by a half-length on the wire. Almanaar had to settle for second, while Century Dream crossed the wire in third.

“He’s got an unbelievable kick (Robert Bruce), but so did the losing horse(Almanaar),” Brown said. “They both ran tremendous.”

Century Dream was later disqualified by the stewards for interference with Catcho En Die in the stretch, so Catcho En Die was promoted to third-place finisher.

Bred in Chile by his owner, Robert Bruce won a total of four Group 1 races in Chile before he ventured to the United States. He took the G3 Fort Marcy in his North American debut, but was a troubled sixth last out in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes. Overall, Robert Bruce has compiled a record of eight wins from nine starts for earnings of over $900,000.

“I’m very glad. This is unexpected,” said owner Carlos Lavin. “To breed a horse in Chile and come all the way to Chicago to win this great prize is really wonderful. I’m very glad to be in Chicago, nice city and nice people.”

Watch the race replay here:

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