Todd Pletcher trainee Pleasant Strike, coming off consecutive victories in the Arlington Classic (gr. IIIT) and an allowance optional claimer at Arlington Park, looks to extend his winning streak when a field of nine sophomores goes postward in Saturday’s reneweal of the $250,000 American Derby (gr. IIT).
The co-highweight in the field with an assignment of 121 pounds, Pleasant Strike has been making a steady climb in class since shipping to Arlington. The son of Smart Strike earned his first blacktype win when he sat close to the pace, angled out in the stretch, and drew off to a 3 3/4-length win under Rene Douglas in the June 23 Classic. He will make his ninth career start Saturday and has a current record of 2-3-1 from eight attempts.
Challenging Pleasant Strike’s bid is rival Lovango, second-place finisher in the Arlington Classic (gr. IIIT). The McLean Robertson-trained son of Capote was beaten 3 3/4-lengths by Pleasant Strike after traveling three wide in the 1 1/16-mile event, his first attempt in graded company. Patrick Biancone trainee Quasicobra also comes into this race off that same event.
The other highweight in the field, Donnie Von Hemel trainee Going Ballistic, last finished third in the Iowa Derby with a late run after swinging eight wide in the lane. A son of Lite the Fuse, Going Ballistic scored a previous victory with a 1/2-length closing effort in the June 28 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes at Lone Star Park. From 13 starts, the Kindred Thoroughbreds colt has won four races including the Skyy El Joven Stakes at Retema and the Remington MEC Mile Stakes at Remington Park. This will be his first start at Arlington.
Worth noting in the field is the presence of Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Self Made Man, a gelded son of Catienus who also makes his first start in graded company. No worse than second in his past four starts on the turf or synthetic surfaces, Self Made Man last won a 1 1/8-mile alowance race at Churchill Downs June 29.
Also of interest is the presence of the lightly-raced Perfect Casting, a son of Diesis (GB) out of the Irish mare Seasonal Style. The chestnut colt makes his first start in the US after winning twice in Ireland off an initial second-place finish.
American Derby (gr. IIT, Race 8, Approximate Post 4:24 p.m.), $250,000 for 3-year-olds at 1 3/16 miles on the turf
1. Pleasant Strike, Rene Douglas, 121
2. Lovango, Christopher Emigh, 119
3. Going Ballistic, M. Clifton Berry, 121
4. Lattice, Robby Albarado, 119
5. Self Made Man, Eusebio Razo Jr., 119
6. Quasicobra, Julien Leparoux, 119
7. Sumac, Larry Sterling, Jr., 119
8. Perfect Casting, Patrick Smullen, 119
9. Eighteenthofmarch, James Graham, 119