‘Versatile’ Oscar Performance On Target For Arlington Million

Trainer Brian Lynch confirmed three-time Grade I winner Oscar Performance for the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million on Saturday, Aug. 11. The 1¼-mile event for 3-year-olds and upward over the turf is one of five stakes carded for the International Festival of Racing. The $100,000 Bruce D. Memorial Stakes, Grade III $100,000 Pucker Up Stakes, Grade I $600,000 Beverly D. and Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes also highlight the turf festival.

The 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy has only run once this season when taking the Grade III Poker Stakes at Belmont Park on June 17. In winning the one-mile event, he broke the track record at the Elmont oval which was formerly set by Elusive Quality. Oscar Performance completed the one-mile journey in a time of 1:31.23 and in doing so, defeated graded stakes winners Made You Look as well as Voodoo Song, who took the Forbidden Apple Stakes at Belmont Park on July 14 in his next start.

“I was absolutely thrilled,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot of pressure when you’re dealing with those kind of horses so it was nice to see him work out the way it did.”

Oscar Performance has been working at Belmont Park, but will breeze over the Saratoga lawn on Sunday morning which is scheduled to be his penultimate move before the Million.

“He’s been doing well,” Lynch said. “Things got interrupted with the weather. I sent him up here to Saratoga and we’re working on the grass up here. We’ll work him one more time next week and finish him off.”

Liking the surface at Arlington will be no concern for Oscar Performance as he won last year’s edition of the Grade I Secretariat Stakes. A victory in the Arlington Million would make Oscar Performance the fifth horse to win both the Secretariat and Arlington Million. Awad (1993-95) Marlin (1996-97), Kicken Kris (2003-04) and Beach Patrol (2016-17) have so far been the only ones to conquer the Secretariat-Million double. It would also make him a Grade I winner at ages two, three and four. As a 2-year-old he shipped to Santa Anita to win the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the following year won the Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational prior to taking the Secretariat.

“He’s got versatility,” Lynch said. “He can be on the lead or if there’s more pace he can sit just off it. He’s very versatile that’s played a big card. He got the mile-and-a-quarter distance in the Secretariat and he did it almost a second quicker than Beach Patrol (winner of the Arlington Million). The Arlington Million is just such a prestigious race and he’s going to be retired at the end of year so it would be nice to have a win in the race on his resume.”

Should Oscar Performance run a good race in the Arlington Million, Lynch would shorten him up to one mile for the Grade I $1,000,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland Race Course on Oct. 6 with the ultimate goal being the Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. He will retire to Mill Ridge Farm at the end of the year.

If Oscar Performance does end up in the Shadwell Turf Mile, he will likely square off against two-time Grade I winning stablemate Heart to Heart, who will race in the Grade I $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on the same day as the Million.

“It’s a nice position to be in to have those two horses in your barn,” Lynch said. “You hate to run them against each other, but if Heart to Heart should run well in the Fourstardave, he would go in the Shadwell.”

Oscar Performance would likely ship to Chicago on the Thursday of Million week. Regular rider Jose Ortiz will ship in to ride.

Other possible contenders for the Million include Spring Quality, Divisidero, Almanaar (GB), Robert Bruce (CHI), Catcho En Die (ARG), Twenty Four Seven, Va Bank (IRE), Deauville (IRE), Circus Couture (IRE), Century Dream (IRE), and Stormy Antarctic (GB).

The Arlington Million is a “Win and You’re In” event for the Grade I $4,000,000 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.

The post ‘Versatile’ Oscar Performance On Target For Arlington Million appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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