WinStar Farm, LLC’s American Lion
made every stride a winning one in Saturday’s Grade 3 Illinois
Presented by TVG. This storied race, the 53rd edition, carried a
purse of $500,000.
Lion, trained by Eoin Harty,
broke from the inside post, seized immediate control and was able to hold
favored Yawanna Twist safe despite repeated
bobbled a little bit at the start”, said rider David Flores, “but he got his
feet right back under him and went right to the lead. He started looking around
but I was pretty confident. I thought they would push him a little bit early
but, like I said, he was just looking around a little bit and he responded when
they came to him. That was a good feeling knowing that when they came to him he
still had something left in the tank.
Yawanna Twist, who finished second, two and
three-quarter lengths back, tracked the pace during the entire race and tried
valiantly to get past once they turned for home but American Lion dug in gamely
Edgar Prado, second on beaten favorite Yawanna
Twist: "We broke good, and I tried to go to the lead. He was sitting very
happy. The other horse just had a little more. He's inexperienced with only
was another eleven and one-quarter lengths back to Backtalk, the third-place
Backtalk’s rider, Miguel Mena, wished the race had been a
bit faster. "No problems at all, it was just a slow pace. I wish they
would have gone a little faster than that, 49 and change for the Derby
is pretty slow."
covered the nine furlong distance in 1:51.31 after fractions of
:24.89, :49.32, 1:13.22 and 1:38.24.
the victory, American Lion earned $291,000 and boosted his career earnings to
Lion returned $8.60, $3.80, and $2.80 as the 3-1 second choice. Yawanna Twist returned $2.80 and $2.20 as the 6-5 favorite
and Backtalk returned $3.00 to show.
about the prospects of American Lion going to the Kentucky Derby, both rider
David Flores and trainer Eoin Harty
did it today,” said Flores.
“Hopefully we go for the big one next time. The roses are the best thing
to end up with. That’s my goal. Hopefully he’ll stay in good shape. Eoin knows what he’s doing. I’m just a lucky guy being here
and riding this horse.”
Harty was even more passionate. "There is only one Derby
and we plan on being there. I think we needed to get a race over the dirt
and fortunately he responded well to it. We got in here Wednesday and
were able to school, which helped. These are different surroundings and a
different paddock. When we schooled, he was a bit active, but today he
was very professional. When he wore the blinkers, he was a bit rank and
we took them off and he responded well. When the other horse (Yawanna Twist) ran up next to him in the lane, I wasn't
sure how he was going to respond, but he did everything right and had something
left. I have had three Kentucky Derby horses, all Tiznow
runners and this is another one that looks to be headed in the right direction."