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Archipenko heads field of seven for 2008 Million
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff

Archipenko goes through the paces at Arlington Park in preparation for the 26th Arlington Million. The four-year-old has collected than $1.9 million in career earnings.



Archipenkois a 2-to-1 favorite to win Saturday's Arlington Million at Arlington Park.



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Published: 8/8/2008 1:40 PM | Updated: 8/8/2008 9:23 PM

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Archipenko has already won major races in England, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The world traveler, bred in Kentucky, arrived to the northwest suburbs this week and hopes to make Arlington Park the home of his fourth conquest this season in six starts.

Listed as the 2-1 morning line favorite for Saturday's 26th running of the Grade I Arlington Million, the 4-year-old son of Kingmambo must prevail over six rivals, including the United State's top turf star, Einstein, and England hero Mount Nelson.

Front-running Sudan, an Irish-bred trained by Bobby Frankel and listed at 8-1 was scratched from the 1¼-mile turf event on Friday. Frankel won the Arlington Million in 2000 (Chester House) and 2002 (Beat Hallow).

The Million goes off as the 10th race on the 12-race program and is scheduled for a 4:44 p.m. post. ESPN will televise the Million and Beverly D. (3:50 p.m.) in a 90-minute telecast from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Despite all the success Archipenko has garnered (more than $1.9 million in earnings), his South African trainer Michael de Kock believes the colt still may not have hit his best stride.

"He's a horse who's still improving." de Kock said of the Group I Queen Elizabeth II Cup champion (Hong Kong), who is affectionately known as "Archie" by his handlers.

"If you look at his running style since he started, you'll see that he always ran behind horses and wouldn't run through the gaps," de Kock added. "But now he's doing that. I think he's late bloomer."

But de Kock knows he has some formidable competition in Einstein and Mount Nelson.

"You better respect their form," said de Kock, who trains Archipenko for Shaikh Mohammed Bin Khalfia al Maktoum (first cousin of the current ruler of Dubia) and Dr. A.H. Parker (leading breeder in South Africa).

The form of Einstein shows that the 6-year-old son of Spend A Buck is as sharp as he has ever been. The Brazilian-bred, trained by Helen Pitts, has been no worse than second in his last five start with a pair of Grade I wins. This season, he has banked $817,649 of the $1.3 million he has made during his career.

"Archipenko is a lovely, lovely horse," Pitts said. "He's obviously very well traveled and just a tough horse to beat, but we'll give it a whirl."

Pitts is trying to become the second straight female trainer to win the Million. Catherine Day Phillips saddled the first Canadian-based winner, Jambalaya, to victory last summer.

"He's (Einstein) progressively gotten older and better as he's gone long," said Pitts, a former assistant to Ken McPeek. "From being able to start out the year with an allowance money race (Gulfstream Park on Jan. 11) and move forward from there, it's just kind of played out as the year's gone on, and he's moved forward off every race."

While Archipenko and Einstein appear to enjoy running close to the pace, Mount Nelson has come from a little further off.

The English-bred 4-year-old son of Rock of Gibraltar sat sixth in his last start and won by a nose in the Group I Coral Eclispe Stakes at Sandown Park in England.

Mount Nelson, trained by Ireland's Aidan O'Brien and owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, is the first winner of the Coral Eclipse to run on the Arlington turf.

O'Brien won the 2005 Million with Magnier's Powerscourt, and Tabor's Marlin won it in 1997.

O'Brien has already won an unprecendented 17 Group I races in Europe this year.

Five other starters are hoping to have a say in the Million, including Stream Cat, who came from fourth on the second turn to win the Grade III Arlington Handicap by 3¾ lengths on July 12. Trained by Rusty Arnold, who is enjoying his best Arlington Park season, Stream Cat will be ridden by French-born Julien Leparoux.

Completing the field are Cloudy's Knight (Frank Kirby trainee who was fourth in Arlington's Stars and Stripes), Silverfoot (Grade III Stars and Stripes champ trained by Dallas Stewart) and Spirit One, a third European starter who was most recently second in a Group I event in France. Spirit One has been on the lead in his last three Group I races in France, finishing second twice and fourth. The 4-year-old French bred is trained by Phillipe Demercastel, who has 20 wins in France this season.