Grandeur: Arlington Million hope is no stranger to North American turfPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Grandeur leads strong Arlington Million charge
Preview: USA, Saturday 11.44pm BST
Arlington Park: Arlington Million (Grade 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
VISITORS account for nearly half the field on Saturday as the storied Arlington Million provides the headline act at the Chicago track's annual Festival of International Racing.
Although last year's victor Little Mike bids for a repeat victory, the home team faces a formidable threat from a European team that has attracted the likes of Ryan Moore, Jamie Spencer and Joseph O'Brien across to the Windy City.
William Buick, though, could well be the jockey travelling with the highest level of expectation rather than hope as he partners Grandeur (Jeremy Noseda), a best-priced 3-1 favourite in British lists.
The four-year-old is certainly no stranger to North American turf, having last autumn won a pair of Grade 2 events, the Twilight Derby and Hollywood Turf Cup, victories that sandwiched a narrow defeat in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.
Well versed in the US sphere, trainer Jeremy Noseda has had the Million as a long-term target, and there was much to like about Grandeur's most recent outing when he made high-class Mukhadram pull out all the stops in the Sky Bet York Stakes.
Ryan Moore, who partners Dank for his employer Sir Michael Stoute on the undercard, gets a rare Godolphin call on the well-travelled dual-Group 1 winner Hunter's Light (Saeed Bin Suroor).
The five-year-old was third of six in Munich last month on his return after a short layoff following Asian exertions that included winning the final leg of this year's Maktoum Challenge on the Tapeta in Dubai.
Twice a Grade 1 winner for Mike de Kock in his native South Africa, Dubai Duty Free second The Apache (Christophe Soumillon) possibly needed the run on his European debut when well behind Grandeur at York. The rest of his form marks him out as a potential leading player.
Also taking their chance from Britain are Earl Of Sefton Stakes winner Mull Of Killough (Jane Chapple-Hyam/Joseph O'Brien) and Guest Of Honour (Marco Botti/Martin Harley), second and third respectively behind Aljamaaheer in Ascot's Summer Mile a month ago.
Andrew Balding has been itching to get Dubai World Cup fourth Side Glance (Jamie Spencer) on his travels again.
Five of the last ten winners have come from Europe but a strong raiding party does not necessarily guarantee success here - as demonstrated 12 months ago when subsequent Breeders' Cup Turf victor Little Mike (Dale Romans/Joel Rosario) stole the Million on the front end.
While the six-year-old has three Grade 1 wins to his name, he has been below par this season, both in Dubai and since returning home. Connections have been encouraged by recent workouts, however, and he wouldn't be the first horse to require a little time after an unavailing trip to the Gulf.
Little Mike could face pace pressure from Nates Mineshaft (Anne Smith/ET Baird), who slammed a good Grade 2 field on dirt at Fair Grounds in April.
Former South American-trained Indy Point (Richard Mandella/Gary Stevens) is a fascinating contender for a trainer who has done well with similar horses and has a fine record in this race.
Not only did this four-year-old win two legs of the Argentine Triple Crown, he was narrowly beaten as favourite for the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini, in effect the continental championship, before being switched to California.
Indy Point looked impressive on his US debut in a Del Mar stakes race in July. His jockey Gary Stevens has won this twice but suffered a collapsed lung and fractured cervical vertebrae when coming off disqualified 'winner' Storming Home in a dramatic finish in 2003.
Arlington-based Rahystrada (Scooter Hughes/Rosie Napravnik) is running in this race for the fourth time after dead-heating for third place in 2012.