ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 9, 2011) – For the second year in a row, trainer Mike Stidham is poised for an attempt at a sweep of the Mid-America Triple. All In Stable's Willcox Inn, winner of the $100,000 Arlington Classic here in May, added an American Derby victory to his ledger. The son of Harlan's Holiday, ridden by Robby Albarado, captured the Grade II $200,000 race in stakes record time of 1:54.56 for the mile and three-sixteenths over firm turf.
Longshot Zoebear set the lead drawing off to lead by as much as nine lengths through a quick half-mile in 47.55 seconds. When the field emerged from behind the trees, Willcox Inn had already taken the lead, getting three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.53 and the mile in 1:36.55 en route to the final clocking.
“The horse that was on the front stopped really abruptly midway up the backside, so we kind of inherited the lead,” said Albarado. “We were being pressed from the outside so I kind of expedited it from there but he was doing it well within himself and content doing it and he showed it finishing to the wire.”
Suntracer rallied from far back to get up for second in the 10-horse race, three-quarters to the clear of Derby Kitten.
“I had a clean trip,” said Shaun Bridgmohan, who was aboard Suntracer. “Chris (trainer Block) told me just to get a hold of him so he could get his footing, and wherever that placed us was OK. He was content with where he was.”
Derby Kitten's rider Julien Leparoux said of his trip, “I had a good trip. I wish I could have asked him a little earlier but I had a wall of horses in front of me and the winner was pretty impressive.”
With the victory Willcox Inn is positioned to become the first horse since Honor Glide in 1997 to sweep the Mid-America Triple with a win in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 13. The $114,000 winner's share boosted his bankroll to $341,543 while improving his record to three wins from seven starts. In addition, he earns an automatic berth into the Secretariat with entry and starting fees waived for that mile and a quarter race, as do Suntracer and Derby Kitten.
Willcox Inn, the post time favorite, paid $6.20, $3.80 and $3.20. Suntracer returned $7 and $4.60. Derby Kitten paid $3.20.
Chalice, Close Ally, Zoebear, Twojohnsandajack, Cannon Hill, Forest Mouse and Lil Bit O'Fun completed the order of finish.
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