Infinite Magic, overlooked at 12-1 odds, prevailed by head over Admiral Kitten and Stormy Len to register his first graded stakes win in the $200,000 American Derby (gr. IIIT) July 13 over the Arlington Park turf (VIDEO).
Channing Hill drove Infinite Magic between rivals in the stretch and then found room along the inside to prevail in a desperate finish over the 8-5 choice Admiral Kitten and Stormy Len, who was a nose behind the favorite. Final time for the 1 3/16-mile test over firm going was a strong 1:55.41.
Owned by Team Valor International, Infinite Magic raced for the first time for trainer Rick Mettee, who replaced Graham Motion as the ownership group's private trainer earlier this year. One of the partners on the son of More Than Ready is Olympic swimming coach Bob Bowman, who earned his second stakes victory this season as a Team Valor owner. Earlier this season, coach Bowman won the Canonero II Stakes at Pimlico Race Course with Cerro, a colt he owns with protege Michael Phelps. Another partner is the great NFL running back Marshall Faulk, a first-time owner with Team Valor.
In his most recent start, a troubled sixth-place finish in the one-mile Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) June 15 at Belmont Park, Infinite Magic was saddled by Robert Ribaudo. Bred in Kentucky by Grapestock LLC, he is out of the Danehill Dancer mare Truly Enchanting.
Carrying 119 pounds, Infinite Magic paid $27.20, $10, and $7 as the third-longest shot on the board. Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Admiral Kitten, coming off a runner-up finish to General Election in the Arlington Classic (gr. IIIT) May 25, returned $3.60 and $2.60 when second again. The exacta was worth $97.20. Stormy Len paid $5.60 as a tough-luck third.
Infinite Magic defeated nine 3-year-old rivals in the American Derby, a major prep for the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at 10 furlongs on the Arlington turf Aug. 17. Hill recently returned from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him for about two weeks.
"This was a great way to get my first win back off the injury," said Hill, who rode Infinite Magic for the first time. "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."
Infinite Magic, 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.
Always prominent for Hill, who moved him toward the inside, Infinite Magic tracked in third as pacesetter Mongolian Saturday opened a two-length advantage over Dorsett. Tepid fractions of :24.15, :49.34, and 1:13.52 ensued as the field made its way through the far turn.
Infinite Magic, angled off the inside for the stretch run, then took the lead from Dorsett past the furlong mark. He proved best under firm handling as Admiral Kitten, rallying five wide for Julien Leparoux, made a big late bid to just miss. Stormy Len was also a willing closer for Alex Solis but was outfought in the final strides.
The winner began his career racing on synthetic tracks at 2 in Great Britain for trainer Jeremy Noseda, where he had two wins and two seconds from five starts, including a handicap win at Lingfield Feb. 13.
Transferred to the United States, the bay colt won his first start, an allowance race April 14 on the Keeneland turf. Switched to the dirt for the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont May 11, Infinite Magic failed to handle the sloppy track, finishing last of nine by 32 lengths. His next start was in the Hill Prince.
Overall, Infinite Magic has four wins from nine outings with earnings of $167,502.
Procurement finished fourth, followed by Dorsett, Moro Tap, General Election, Formidable Heart, Mongolian Saturday, and Triple Cross. Coastal Breeze scratched.