Irish trainer Dermot Weld's continued his recent good fortune in the American Derby (gr. IIT) Saturday when Moyglare Stud Farm Ltd.'s Simple Exchange registered a neck victory in the $250,000 race for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park.
Jockey Patrick Smullen made his trip from Ireland worthwhile, guiding the son of Danehill to victory in a stakes record 1:54.93 over firm going. The 2-1 second choice, Simple Exchange returned $6.40, $4.80 and $2.40 in his first American start. Cool Conductor, a $10,000 supplemental entry to the American Derby, rallied from far back for Cornelio Velasquez to challenge the winner but came up just a bit short. He paid $3.80 and $2.20. Toasted, the 6-5 favorite who won the Arlington Classic (gr. IIT) in his last start, made a belated rally to finish third in the eight-horse field. He returned $2.10. Simple Exchange settled in along the rail racing just off the pace set by longshot Gwahir, who took the field through splits of :24.31, :48.47 and 1:12.80. Smullen gave Simple Exchange a couple of taps with the whip on the backstretch to keep his mount's mind on business and found an opening between horses as the field turned for home. "I wanted to keep my horse into the race down the backside," Smullen said. "I got a split just as we entered into the straight. It was brilliant. We got a lovely run around and we quickened all the way down the stretch." The victory was the first this year for Simple Exchange, whose overall record now stands at three wins and a second from five starts. The $150,000 winner's check jumped his bankroll to $238,270. For Weld, Ireland's all-time leading conditioner, the win was his third in the last five runnings of the American Derby. He took the 2000 renewal with Pine Dance and scored again last year with Evolving Tactics. We think this is a better colt (than last year's winner Evolving Tactics)," Weld said. "He has more talent, more speed and more improvement in him. I think the best is yet to come. Hopefully, he'll stay now and we'll run him back in the Secretariat." "I had a perfect trip," said Toasted's rider Rene Douglas. "I think my horse is just as good as the winner. I had to wait a little to get out and just didn't have enough racetrack left to get him. He was closing. I think he will like the mile and a quarter (of the Secretariat Stakes)." The Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes is Aug. 14. Gwaihir, Up Anchor, Samwise, Kilgowan and Caiman completed the order of finish. (Chart, Equibase)