Team Valor International's Infinite Magic, a colt making only his fourth start in America after racing in Europe to begin his career, was given a stealthy ride by Channing Hill to take the second leg in the Mid-America Triple, the Grade III $200,000 American Derby. Trained by Team Valor's newly branded private conditioner Rick Mettee, the bay son of More Than Ready sat in third, just off the pacesetting duo of Mongolian Saturday and Dorsett before shifting off the rail and rallying between horses turning for home. At the wire, the winner prevailed by a head over Admiral Kitten in 1:55.41.
“This was a great way to get my first win back off the injury (to his shoulder that kept him sidelined about 2 weeks),” said the winning rider. “The horse put me in a nice position. We had a beautiful trip and he really dug in the last sixteenth of a mile to have a really good score here. The thing I was concerned with was with (my horse) not being able to see (the other horses) all the way out there but once he did, he ended up re-breaking and I was really surprised how much horse I had to the wire. He's a really nice horse.”
Julien Leparoux, on the Mike Maker-trained Admiral Kitten, stormed from the back of the field to just miss at the wire once again. In the first leg of the Mid-America Triple, the son of Kitten's Joy made a similar to run to lose by a length in the Grade III Arlington Classic on May 25. “It was a good trip,” said Leparoux. “The horse came from behind and made a big run. I really need to see the race again on TV. But, for me, no excuse other than maybe the winner saved more ground. Other than that, it was a good run.” Admiral Kitten went off as the 8-5 post time favorite.
Outrunning his 9.70-1 odds in third was Stormy Len, who rallied to finish a nose behind Admiral Kitten, beaten a neck for it all. “I wasn't where I wanted to be. I wanted to be second early, but he threw his head right when the gates opened, and then he got squeezed back. We were just further back than I wanted to be, but he came running anyway,” said jockey Alex Solis of the David Donk trainee.
Stormy Len was followed in order by Procurement, Dorsett, Moro Tap, General Election, Formidable Heart, Mongolian Saturday and Triple Cross to complete the order of finish.
Infinite Magic, a Kentucky-bred from the Danehill Dancer mare Truly Enchanting, earned $114,000 to extend his career earnings to $167,502. The victory was his fourth in nine starts and his third of 2013. He, along with Admiral Kitten and Stormy Len, have their entry and starting fees waived, should they enter the third and final leg of the Mid-America Triple, the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes on August 17.
The fifth and final stakes of the day, the $67,500 Coach Jimi Lee Stakes featured a rematch of last year's first and second-place finishers in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity. Swifty Farms' Pataky Kid, trained by Tom Proctor, burst through an opening at the top of the stretch to run down Muppet Man. “[Proctor] said to stay close. And I waited for an opening. Then the opening came,” said winning jockey Eddie Castro. Pataky Kid improved his record to a perfect three-for-three at Arlington.
A tough-luck second, Muppet Man ran very well in defeat. “He ran good. He ran his race. There was really no excuse. I was waiting and waiting, and it was the same race as last year. He came behind me into the stretch and it opened up and he passed me. The same happened today,” said jockey Jeffrey Sanchez.
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