Kieren Fallon has the chance to crown a hot summer streak with the most significant success of his first year back in the saddle when he rides Summit Surge in the 28th Arlington Million here today.
Trained by Luca Cumani, whose success in the third running with Tolomeo vindicated the concept of the Million as the Turf's first truly international race, Summit Surge relished the step up to 10 furlongs at York last time.
The home team has a world-class first line of defence, however, in Gio Ponti. Last year he came here to record his fourth consecutive Grade One success, but perhaps his finest hour was in giving the mighty Zenyatta most to do in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Having then tried his luck in the Dubai World Cup, he has returned in much better fettle than many other American horses that have made the same trip. Unlucky in running on his return, he looked poised for a return to his very best with a narrow win at Belmont last time, doing well to pounce off a slow pace. In his prime at the age of five, Gio Ponti can become the first horse to win back-to-back Millions for the expatriate Frenchman Christophe Clement.
Summit Surge is joined by two other Newmarket raiders, trained by John Gosden. Tazeez did not stay a mile and a half last time, but had clung on to third after making most in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, and both Byword and Twice Over did the form no harm at York. Debussy was down the field that day, and proved no match for Summit Surge at York, either, but his success at Chester in the spring implied he may be more comfortable than the winner round this tighter circuit.
The British also mount a strong challenge for the two other Grade One turf prizes on the card. The flourishing Wigmore Hall looks to have a great chance against just five rivals for the Secretariat Stakes, for Michael Bell and Jamie Spencer, while the absence of the favourite, Rainbow View, gives Pachattack each-way prospects in the Beverly D Stakes. She has blossomed this summer with two consecutive Listed wins and Gerard Butler is very pleased with the way this filly has absorbed her journey and the sultry Chicago weather. She, too, is ridden by Fallon.