Eight sophomores will race to establish themselves at the top of the 3-year-old turf division in the Grade 3, $100,000 American Derby at Arlington International Racecourse on Saturday, July 7. One of four Grade 3 events taking place that day in the Ride to the Million, presented by Miller Lite, the American Derby will be contested at 1 1/8 miles over the Arlington green.
Returning to the Chicagoland oval is Grade 3 Arlington Classic winner Ezmosh who emerges from post five under Jose Valdivia, Jr. The 3-year-old Oklahoma-bred son of Tizway is owned by Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing and Zayat Stables and tried turf for the first time one race prior to the Arlington Classic – a first-level allowance event over Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots' Stall-Wilson Turf Course where he defeated fellow entrant Dubby Dubbie (Jack Gilligan, post four). Trained by Brad Cox, Ezmosh broke his maiden over a fast main track at Churchill Downs last September at third asking and did not find the winner's circle again until switching to the grass in March.
Lothenbach Stables' Captivating Moon looms as the biggest competition to the Arlington Classic winner. Although the son of Malibu Moon has yet to find the winner's circle at stakes level, he has been stakes-placed six times, and most recently was third in Canterbury Park's Mystic Lake Derby on June 23 beaten 1½ lengths behind Sniper Kitten. The homebred also dead-heated for second in the Grade II American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 5 with multiple graded stakes winner Untamed Domain and was second beaten 5¼-lengths behind Analyze It in the Grade III Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland on April 6. The Chris Block trainee will be ridden by jockey Florent Geroux from post six.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will send three-time winner Tap Daddy to Arlington exiting a win in Pimlico Race Course's James W. Murphy Stakes on May 19. The 1 1/16-mile event was originally scheduled for the turf but was taken off and contested over a sloppy main track. Owned by Exotique Racing, the son of Scat Daddy broke his maiden over the turf at Kentucky Downs on September 14 by 3¼ lengths and two starts later defeated winners in a Churchill Downs allowance race over the Matt Winn Turf Course by 1½ lengths. Tap Daddy has secured $243,654, which is the highest amount of lifetime earnings in the field of eight runners. He will break from the outside post under the handling of Jose Lezcano.
Wimborne Farm's Pont Du Gard (Jose Lopez, post three) will try to turn the tables on Ezmosh after finishing second to the colt by 2½ lengths in the Arlington Classic. Trained by Ignacio Correas, IV, the Louisiana-bred son of Liaison was also second to Tap Daddy last year in a November allowance race at Churchill Downs. Local racegoers might remember Pont Du Gard when he sprung a 31-1 upset in his career debut last summer over the Arlington turf course. Irocnically, this took place on July 7 – exactly one calendar year from the American Derby. Pont Du Gard earned his second career victory five starts later when shipping to Fair Grounds to defeat seven other Louisiana-breds by 1¼ in a first level allowance event on March 9.
Kitten A Gettin (Corey Nakatani, post one), Proquestor (Constantino Roman, post two) and Real Story (Joe Bravo, post seven) complete the field.
The Grade III American Derby is slated as Race 5 (3:41 p.m.) on Saturday's 10-race card.
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