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Contact: David Zenner
UNION AVENUE UPSETS GRADE II AMERICAN DERBY FIELD
Trainer Bill Mott Wins Race for Second Straight Year
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 22, 2006) -- WinStar Farm LLC’s Union Avenue sat just off the lead through a half mile, took the lead on the second turn, drew to a clear lead in the stretch and held off the late run of Can’t Beat It to win the $250,000 American Derby presented by Jack Daniel’s Saturday at Arlington Park as part of the track’s Million Preview Day program. Larry Melancon had the mount aboard the Bill Mott-trained son of Gone West who covered the mile and three-sixteenth over “soft” turf in 1:57.20.
“He broke good and has stalking speed,” said Melancon, who was astride the 3-year-old bay colt for the first time Saturday. “(Tahoe Warrior) made the lead, I stalked him, waited, stole off around the turn and they didn’t catch me.”
Tahoe Warrior led the field of 14 sophomores through fractions of 23.88 seconds and 48.66 seconds before being overtaken by the eventual winner who got a three-quarter mile split of 1:13.99 and the mile in 1:38.89 en route to the final clocking.
The win was the second straight in the American Derby for Hall of Fame trainer Mott, who saddled Brant Laue’s Gun Salute to take last year’s renewal. It was also the second straight score for Union Avenue, who captured a restricted stakes at Colonial Downs in his last start. Overall, Union Avenue’s record stands at three wins from six starts and the $150,000 earned here boosted his bankroll to $210,870.
Can’t Beat It rallied late to finish second. It was another 1 ¼ lengths back to third-place finisher Amigoni.
“He got caught inside,” noted Karla Wolfson, wife of Can’t Beat It’s trainer, Marty Wolfson. “If only the hole had opened up a little more and a little earlier turning for home he could have got there. This is a nice horse.”
Desert Wheat, Golden Arrow, Murch, Storm Treasure, Stream Cat, Niagara Causeway, Arlington Classic winner Kingship, Icy Ridge, Tahoe Warrior, Outperformance and Charley Tango completed the order of finish.
Union Avenue, sent off at odds of more than 23-1, paid $49.60, $19.60 and $16.60. Can’t Beat It returned $8.60 and $5.60. Amigoni paid $10.40.
Arlington Park -- the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- will run a 95-day meet in 2006 from Friday, May 5 through Tuesday, Sept. 12. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Lucky's featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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