Less than a day after saying he thought Arlington Million entrant Sudan "definitely has a chance" to win, two-time Million winning trainer Bobby Frankel scratched the Gary Tanaka-owned 5-year-old from today's race.
"He was fine when he galloped (at Arlington on Thursday)," Frankel told Tanaka advisor Francois Dupois by phone Friday. "But when we scanned him (Friday) morning we discovered that the horse had a bowed tendon."
The Irish-bred Sudan finished fourth in the Man o' War at Belmont Park in his last start on July 12 and had previously won the Grade III Golden Gate Fields Turf on May 31. A win Saturday would have given Tanaka his first Million title.
The defection of the front-running Sudan winnows the Million field down to seven and may end up changing the complexion of the race. The best guess is that that the French connections of Spirit One will opt to take the early lead in the 1¼-mile turf race.
What a difference: In his final race without wearing blinkers earlier this year, Archipenko finished 10th in the Invasor Handicap in Dubai, his fifth straight finish outside the top-three.
Then trainer Michael F. de Kock opted to try blinkers for his next race, and Archipenko hasn't looked back, winning three of his next four and heading into today's Million as the probable morning line favorite.
"Archie, when they got him, he was a pacemaker," said jockey Kevin Shea. "He couldn't get his head down - he was a real handful.
"He didn't like horses around him - he was so used to running freely. Putting blinkers on him turned him around."
A horse is a horse: Think all horses are all the same? Try telling that to the connections of probable Million favorite Archipenko and Tizdejavu, the probable top pick in the Secretariat.
Kevin Shea (jockey, Archipenko): "I ride him every single day and he's a funny, funny little horse. He's a human being, I'm telling you. Everything you ask him to do he'll do for you."
Greg Fox (trainer, Tizdejavu): "He's a very intelligent animal. He's a very cooperative horse - incredibly reliable. He'll tell you how he's feeling."
Is he feeling good this week?
"Oh yeah ... he is."
To Shea the least: Jockey Kevin Shea (Archipenko) has traveled all over the globe while working for trainer Michael F. de Kock.
A normal year for him includes stops in England, Dubai, Hong Kong and his native South Africa, so he knows a thing or two about human nature.
And the human nature he enjoys the most is that found in the United States.
"I find Americans to be very friendly people - maybe the Chicago people even more," Shea said. "I come from Europe and it's hard to get two words out of anybody there. They don't talk to you. You can walk past 30 of them there and if you said "Good morning" to all 30 of them maybe two will answer - and those are (probably) two Americans."
Fires still burning: When he hops aboard the Wayne Catalano-trained Primerealestate in today's Grade I Secretariat, local riding legend Earlie Fires, 61, will add yet another mark to his ledger by becoming the oldest jockey to compete in one of the big three races in Arlington's International Festival of Racing.
"I'm amazed and decidedly proud of him," said Pat Day, who won four Arlington riding titles compared to six for Fires. "A man who's what, 61, going long and strong and riding in good form. I wish him continued success."
He said it: Tizdejavu's trainer Greg Fox on his incurable love of racing: "Horse racing is the disease only death cures."