Lawyer Ron, making his first start since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), held off 30-1 shot Smokeyjonessutton to win the $250,000 St. Louis Derby at Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Ill., Saturday night.
After winning six consecutive races, including the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), the Langfuhr
colt went to the sidelines after surgery to remove a chip from his right hind ankle following the Derby.
Now owned by Stonewall Farms Racing Division 1 and the estate of James T. Hines, the Bob Holthus-trained Lawyer Ron was sent off at 4-5 in the 1 1/16-mile event but had to work for his three-quarters of a length victory.
He bumped with More Than Regal at the break, then raced wide while mid-pack in the 10-horse field for the opening half-mile. He squeezed through an opening between rivals after reaching the final turn to get into contention, angled out for the stretch drive, and then overtook Smokeyjonessutton and second choice Lewis Michael in upper stretch. He won under left-handed urging from McKee while barely edging away from Smokeyjonessutton, who rallied along the inside, in a time of 1:42 4/5 over a "good" track after rain earlier in the day.
It was two lengths back to Lewis Michael in third.
General Darby set the early pace of :22 4/5 and :46 1/5 before Lewis Michael, who was tracking in third, grabbed the lead after six furlongs in 1:11.
The inaugural St. Louis Derby drew a crowd of 7,848.
"I was very comfortable; I was confident the whole way," McKee told Daily Racing Form
. "I knew there was a fast pace, and I know this colt can rate. He put in a dominant performance today."
Holthus hopes to get his chestnut colt to the Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. He said Lawyer Ron's next start would be in the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs Sept. 23.
Lawyer Ron, who paid $3.60, $4 and $3 for the victory, earned $150,000 to push his career earnings to $1,240,800.
Smokeyjonessutton, who was ridden by Miguel Mena, returned $20.60 and $6.80 while completing a $92.20 exacta. Lewis Michael, who had Rene Douglas aboard, was $3.20 to show.