O'Brien's Magician on Arlington Park Million mission
Magician leads a potent four-pronged Aidan O'Brien assault on Arlington Park tomorrow night as the Ballydoyle genius bids to emulate his 2011 Grade One double at the Chicago track.
Last year's Breeders' Cup Turf hero is a 5/4 market leader to plunder the Arlington Million. Real Solution, the 2013 winner of the 10-furlong feature, is also among a field of seven for a race that O'Brien won with Powerscourt and Cape Blanco in 2005 and 2011.
Joseph O'Brien is pencilled in to do his minimum weight of 9st on Magician. The towering champion jockey's battle with the scales isn't getting any easier, and tomorrow he will be looking to successfully meet the commitment to do 9st for just the second time since Irish Derby weekend at the end of June.
He did the weight on Cougar Mountain in the July Cup, but weighed in 1.6lbs heavy after being beaten a neck on Tapestry in the Irish Oaks, when his featherweight tack also slipped badly.
For six other less high-profile 9st mounts in between, the talented 21-year-old has carried between one and three pounds over, and he also carried a pound more than the allotted 9st 3lb and 9st 4lb when winning on Beau Satchel at Galway and Aussie Guest at Cork, respectively.
O'Brien is already resigned to forfeiting the plum ride on Australia should the dual Derby winner tackle the International at York next week, as the three-year-old would carry just 8st 12lb if he runs.
His father's three other runners tomorrow night are also outside his range. Arlington Park is the American circuit around which the Ballydoyle incumbent has had the most success, with his Secretariat victors Ciro (2000) and Treasure Beach (2011) among five course winners.
This time, the 2011-winning jockey Colm O'Donoghue will partner the first-time blinkered Belisarius, with Ryan Moore aboard 5/4 favourite Adelaide, on which O'Donoghue was second in the Belmont Derby last month.
O'Donoghue won the inaugural American St Leger on Marco Botti's Jakkalberry in 2012, but Moore gets the nod for Rosegreen's recent Leopardstown winner Eye Of The Storm tomorrow, with Botti booking Frankie Dettori for last year's winner Dandino.
Belisarius will be having its final start for O'Brien before staying in America, and it has also been revealed that the stable's US import Verrazano has been retired to stud after picking up an injury when running poorly in the Eclipse Stakes.
Meanwhile, Dermot Weld has said he is "delighted" with the progress Free Eagle is making ahead of a possible return to action on Champions Weekend, and Eddie Lynam has confirmed that Slade Power could still take in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 6 before embarking on a swansong foray to Australia for November's VRC Sprint Classic in November.