Rahystrada, who didn't succeed the first two times he tried to win the Arlington Million, will try again Aug. 18 after a front-running neck victory over stretch-running 19-10 favorite Boisterous in the $200,000 Arlington Handicap, one of four Grade III races run on Saturday's Million Preview Day card.
Romacaca was the winner of the $200,000 Modesty Handicap, prep for the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D.; Cozzetti was victorious in the $200,000 American Derby, stepping stone to the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat; and, in a resounding upset, Ioya Bigtime captured the $150,000 Stars and Stripes, preamble to the new $400,000 American St. Leger.
"There wasn't a lot of speed so I thought I'd put him in and see how he'd react," said the 8-year-old gelding's jockey, Joel Rosario. "I picked it up a little bit on the backstretch and he was gone after that."
Boisterous made a strong stretch bid but was a neck shy of the winner.
Modesty Handicap: Romacaca, a 6-year-old mare bearing the black and black diamond silks of 10-time Arlington owners champion Frank Calabrese, answered an all-out stretch challenge from Snow Top Mountain and won the 13/16-mile face by a neck.
"She's what a professional horse is all about," said Arlington's leading jockey, Francisco Torres, who rode Romacaca for trainer Danny Miller. "She showed her heart inside the eighth-pole and wouldn't let that other mare get by."
Romacaca is one of 12 horses in Miller's barn at Arlington that are owned by Calabrese, who has been based in Florida the last two years.
American Derby: Shaun Bridgmohan sent Cozzetti through a narrow opening along the rail deep in the stretch and he became a stakes winner by thrusting a neck ahead of pace-setting All Stormy to prevail in a three-horse fight to the finish-line in the Grade III race. Skyring was third, a head behind All Stormy, while Daddy Nose Best, the 17-10 favorite, returning to the turf after finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Preakness, came in fourth in the eight-horse race.
The 8-5 morning line favorite, Silver Max, was scratched by Cozzetti's trainer, Dale Romans, who decided to run him instead next weekend in the Grade II $600,000 Virginia Derby.
Although Cozzetti's pedigree is grass-oriented, Romans put him on the Triple Crown trail earlier in the year. He finished third in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, fourth in the Grade I Arkansas Derby and seventh in the Preakness. The American Derby was his first victory in five outings on the turf.
"There wasn't much pace," Bridgmohan said. "He broke and put himself in a great stalking position, right behind the front-runners. When they started picking it up he was versatile enough to pick it up with them and then he gave me everything he had."
Stars and Stripes: Dispatched as the second longest shot in the 11/2-mile race at odds of 41-1, Illinois-bred Ioya Bigtime ended a six-race losing streak by scoring an impressive 11/2-length victory over Musketier, the 2-1 favorite in the field of 10.
Ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez, Ioya Bigtime was bred and is owned by Team Block as is third place finisher Suntracer, a 16-1 Illinois-bred long shot who was a neck back of Musketier. Hitherto untested in distance races, the 5-year-old son of Dynaformer and Ioya Two paid $84, $25.60 and $12.40.
"This race was kind of a no-man's land for Ioya Bigtime," said Chris Block, trainer of the family-owned stablemates. "I thought he might gain steam the farther we went and my dad (David Block) thought we should give it a shot. Dynaformer can run all day; his momma won at 13/16ths and (Argentine-bred maternal grandfather) Lord At War excelled going a distance of ground."