Wigmore Hall travels well and never shies from a tussle, but the 5-year-old gelding just hasn’t had his top form in 2012 through six starts. Saturday, he’ll make his third attempt to win a race at Arlington’s International Festival of Racing.
His first career trip overseas yielded a second at Arlington in the Secretariat (G1) in 2010 behind Paddy O’Prado. He’s been to Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, back the US for an Arlington Million (G1) fourth in 2011, then Canada, and Dubai again since. The son of High Chaparral managed two wins since the beginning of 2011 – a tally in the Jebel Hatta (G2) besting eventual Dubai Duty Free (G1) winner Presvis, and then the Northern Dancer Stakes in mid-September at Woodbine, but is without a score in his last seven tries.
A year ago in Chicago, Wigmore Hall was slow to begin in the Million, guided to the rail by Hayley Turner, and after traveling fifth about four lengths from the lead for most of the race, got shuffled on the turn for home and drifted too far back. When a gap opened, Wigmore Hall engaged and advanced to finish fourth beaten just 3.5 lengths, but galloped out well beyond winner Cape Blanco. Trainer Michael Bell was none to happy with the performance at the time, storming about the apron where most of the connections watched the race. Regardless, he’s engaged Turner since, and she will be aboard in a total reprise of the Million, and at a price that is significantly better than a season ago.
Marco Botti’s Crackerjack King seems a strong contender in the race given his form over firmer going, while Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid Al Maktoum’s Afsare stands a chance on recent form, albeit behind Crackerjack King when the two met in Italy. John Gosden indicated that HRH Princess Haya’s Colombian was the best of his shippers to the Million, but prefers some added give in the ground which he isn’t likely to get after brisk winds have dried the course in recent days.
1. Rahystrada 8-1
Trainer: Byron Hughes, Jockey: Julien Leparoux
2. Boisterous 4-1
Trainer: Shug McGaughey, Jockey: Jose Lezcano
3. Afsare 6-1
Trainer: Luca Cumani, Jockey: Kieren Fallon
4. Little Mike 6-1
Trainer: Dale Romans, Jockey: Ramon Dominguez
5. Colombian 8-1
Trainer: John Gosden, Jockey: William Buick
6. Treasure Beach 6-1
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien, Jockey: Jamie Spencer
7. Willcox Inn 12-1
Trainer: Michael Stidham, Jockey: James Graham
8. Wigmore Hall 12-1
Trainer: Michael Bell, Jockey: Hayley Turner
9. Crackerjack King 5-1
Trainer: Marco Botti, Jockey: Colm O’Donoghue
10. Cherokee Lord 30-1
Trainer: C Livesay, Jockey: Francisco Torres
11. Vertiformer 20-1
Trainer: Wayne Catalano, Jockey: Jeffrey Sanchez