The $500,000 Secretariat (G1) will have a different look and feel when the three-year-old grass stakes is renewed at Arlington on Saturday. For the first time in more than three decades, it will be run at a distance other than 1 1/4 miles. Prompted by the introduction of last week’s lucrative Saratoga Derby over 1 3/16 miles, Arlington announced earlier this year that the Secretariat would be shortened to one mile.
The change has not discouraged the Coolmore team and trainer Aidan O’Brien, who have won the Secretariat four times previously, from participating. They’ve simply shipped horses better suited to the distance. Among their two entries is Never No More, last seen winning the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial by a half-length over Madhmoon, the subsequent Epsom Derby (G1) runner-up.
Also representing Coolmore is Van Beethoven, who should appreciate the drop in class. Unplaced eight times since winning the Railway (G2) at The Curragh last June, the Scat Daddy colt exits springtime runs in the French (G1) and Irish 2000 Guineas (G1), as well as the St James’s Palace (G1) at Royal Ascot.
Trainer Chad Brown brings two serious contenders in Valid Point, another son of Scat Daddy who makes his stakes debut after maiden and allowance victories, and last year’s Summer (G1) winner Fog of War, a close second to Win Win Win in the $100,000 Manila at Belmont Park on Independence Day.
Separated by a neck in last month’s American Derby (G3) was the winning Faraway Kitten and the dead heat runners-up Crafty Daddy and The Last Zip, while Ry’s the Guy is another interesting Midwest-based candidate. The Distorted Humor son of 1000 Guineas (G1) heroine Sleepytime, triumphed at first asking on the turf at Churchill Downs against allowance foes in late June.
The field is rounded out by stakes winner Clint Maroon from the barn of trainer Wayne Catalano.