Willcox Inn dominates the American Derby at Arlington Park.

Willcox Inn dominates the American Derby at Arlington Park.

Four Footed Fotos

Stidham Repeats at Arlington With Willcox Inn

Four-length victory gives trainer a shot at Mid-America Triple for second year.

Favored Willcox Inn's four-length romp in the $200,000 American Derby (gr. IIT) on the Arlington Park turf July 9 will give trainer Michael Stidham a shot at sweeping the track's Mid-America Triple for the second year in a row (VIDEO).

Owned by All In Stable, Willcox Inn won the first leg of the three-race series for 3-year-olds, the Arlington Classic Stakes May 28, by 2 1/2 lengths.

With the latest victory Willcox Inn is positioned to become the first horse since Honor Glide in 1997 to sweep the series with a win in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) Aug. 13. Last year, the Stidham-trained Workin for Hops won the same two races but finished third behind the victorious Paddy O'Prado in the Secretariat.

Willcox Inn, a son of Harlan's Holiday ridden by Robby Albarado, captured the American Derby in a stakes record time of 1:54.56 for the 1 3/16-mile distance over firm turf. The time was more than a second off the course mark of 1:53 1/5 set by Reluctant Guest in 1990.

Dr. John A. Chandler bred Willcox Inn in Kentucky. The dark bay/brown colt, out of the Gone West mare De Aar, was a $50,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale in July 2009.

Longshot Zoebear set the pace, drawing off to lead by as many as nine lengths through quick splits of :23.24 and :47.55. Approaching the final turn, Willcox Inn, chasing in third for a half-mile, grabbed the lead, getting three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.53 and the mile in 1:36.55. He led by four lengths at mid-stretch and held sway under left-handed urging from Albarado.

“The horse that was on the front stopped really abruptly midway up the backside, so we kind of inherited the lead,” said Albarado. “We were being pressed from the outside so I kind of expedited it from there but he was doing it well within himself and content doing it, and he showed it finishing to the wire.”

Suntracer, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, rallied from far back to get up for second in the 10-horse race, three-quarters of a length ahead of 126-pound co-top-weight Derby Kitten, with Julien Leparoux aboard.

The $114,000 winner’s share boosted Willcox Inn's bankroll to $341,543 while improving his record to three wins from seven starts. In addition, he earns an automatic berth into the Secretariat with entry and starting fees waived for that 1 1/4-mile race, as do Suntracer and Derby Kitten.

Willcox Inn, who carried 121 pounds, paid $6.20, $3.80, and $3.20. Team Block's Suntracer, who was also second in the Arlington Classic for trainer Chris Block, returned $7 and $4.60 and completed a $47.60 exacta. Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Derby Kitten, making his first start at Arlington for Mike Maker, paid $3.20 to show.

Chalice, Close Ally, Zoebear, Twojohnsandajack, Cannon Hill, Forest Mouse, and Lil Bit O'Fun completed the order.