With WinStar Farm’s management team on hand, Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner American Lion tuned up for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with a workout April 20 over the Polytrack at Keeneland.
The son of Tiznow trained by Eoin Harty was timed in 1:01 4/5 for the five-eighths of a mile breeze.
"He did it exactly the way we wanted," said WinStar chairman and co-owner Bill Casner, who watched the workout along with farm president and CEO Doug Cauthen and vice president and racing manager Elliott Walden. "He was well in hand. He does it so easily, it surprises you when you look at your watch and see the final time."
American Lion, who was bred by WinStar and Dr. William Lockridge and is out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Tide, has a record of 3-1-1 from six starts, with earnings of $413,600.
Winner of the Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) in December, American Lion had yet to come around this year until he broke through in the Illinois Derby. Following a third-place effort in the Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) and a fourth in the San Felipe (gr. II), both over the artificial surface at Santa Anita, American Lion took to the dirt at Hawthorne to win the Illinois Derby. Also, Harty took the blinkers off for that front-running triumph.
With four strong candidates for the Derby, WinStar is in an enviable position, and Casner does not take it for granted. "We have been very, very lucky to get this far. It is a credit to our trainers, who had held them together."
In addition to American Lion, WinStar’s Derby probables include Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. IIII) winner Rule (trained by Todd Pletcher), Sunland Derby (gr. III) winner Endorsement (Shannon Ritter), and Super Saver , the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) runner-up that is also trained by Pletcher.