archipenko and kevin sheaArchipenko and Kevin Shea tweak their armoury at Arlington Park
(Four Footed Photos)

Archipenko, the globe-trotting 4-year-old son of Kingmambo, who has won top-graded stakes in three countries in seven months, and who is trained by South African Champion Trainer, Mike de Kock, representing the formidable duo of Dr Ashley Parker and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum… will on Saturday do battle in an assault on the ‘fourth corner’ of the Thoroughbred World, the 26th renewal of the Arlington Million.

Chicago’s Sun Times reports that this bay colt, who is a son of the formidable stallion Kingmambo and is named for the Ukrainian sculptor Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), was installed Wednesday as the 2-1 morning-line choice atop a field of eight. The Arlington Million is the 10th race on a 12-race card at Arlington Park.

”We are going to see a marvelous day of racing,” said Arlington chairman emeritus Richard L. Duchossois, who later this month will mark the 25th anniversary of the week his initial ownership group took control of the northwest suburban oval.

”These are three extremely talented, competitive groups of horses.”

”I am very pleased with the way Archipenko has advanced toward the Arlington Million,” said trainer Mike de Kock, a native of South Africa who finished second in the Beverly D. last year with Irridescence. ”He normally saves his best for race days.”

That’s good news for the colt’s connections because he meandered seven furlongs in a snoozy 1:39 over a soft Arlington turf on Tuesday with a final quarter of 27 seconds. Afterward, jockey Kevin Shea - who will be riding for the first time in the United States - told attending media: ”Everything was good. The turf was riding soft, but I could feel his well-being as he moved over it.”

Opponents have consistently felt Archipenko’s well-being on his most recent race days. He has won three of his last four starts, including the Group II Summer Miles Stakes last month at Ascot, the Group I Queen Elizabeth II Cup in April at Hong Kong’s Sha Tin and the Grade II Al Fahidi Fort on February 21 at Nad al Sheba in Dubai.

Archipenko drew Post 1 - not the most advantageous slot in the wide-ovaling Arlington Million. He is expected to face his most formidable challenges from 5-2 second pick Mount Nelson, trained by the legendary Aidan O’Brien, and Helen Pitts’ brilliantly versatile Einstein (7-2).

Mount Nelson has been a gem of inconsistency while going against many of Europe’s best middle-distance horses. The son of the stellar miler Rock of Gibraltar has won only three of eight career starts, including one of his last five. But that last victory came in the Group I Coral-Eclipse Stakes in July at Sundown Park, and that was enough for Aidan O’Brien to book trans-Atlantic passage to Arlington.

Einstein is the lowest-priced of the five American-based starters in the Arlington Million. Under the astute tutelage of Helen Pitts, the Brazilian-bred has consistently contended on the grass and dirt up and down the eastern seaboard. The son of Spend a Buck won the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, then finished second to Curlin in the Grade I Stephen Foster six weeks later in Louisville.

”I don’t think we could be coming into the Arlington Million much better,” Helen Pitts said.

“Be sure to catch all the racing action on Tellytrack (DSTV Channel 232). Coverage of all three Grade 1 races will start with the $400 000 Secretariat Stakes at 10.12pm, the $750 000 Beverly D. Stakes at 10.50pm and the Arlington Million at 11.44pm.”