The Tin Man has been brought along patiently by trainer Richard Mandella. The Ralph and Aury Todd homebred son of Affirmed returned from an eight-month layoff to win the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) on May 28, and hasn't lost since a second-pace finish in the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) in March 2006. The Tin Man's winning streak began in last year's American Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile test that he won by three-quarters of a length.
The Tin Man is being groomed for a return to the Arlington Million (gr. IT), a race he also won last year. His current streak also includes a victory in the Clement Hirsch (gr. IT) at Oak Tree last fall.
Regular rider Victor Espinoza has the call on The Tin Man, who carries top weight of 123 pounds -- between five and 10 more than his opponents.
The fan favorite will be facing four rivals who also come out of the Shoemaker -- Willow O Wisp, who was nosed for second, Becrux (fourth), Right Special (fifth) and Fast and Furious (10th). The first three challengers were less than two lengths away at the wire.
Becrux is still trying to find the form that provided an upset victory in the Woodbine Mile (Can-I) last September. The Neil Drysdale trained Italian-bred closed well in the Shoemaker to lose by one length but is winless in three starts when stretching out to nine furlongs.
Robert Alexander's Willow O Wisp has set the pace in each of his last six starts but won just once -- in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood last spring. The 5-year-old Misnomer gelding gave way reluctantly while under constant pressure from the stalking The Tin Man and was beaten by three quarters of a length. Trained by Vladimir Cerin, he has finished third in all three of his 2007 starts.
The Brazilian-bred Right Special has two U.S. starts for trainer Paulo Lobo, winning his debut against allowance company on the Hollywood Park turf prior to his late bid in the Shoemaker.
T N T Stud's Brazilian-bred Out of Control makes his American stakes debut for trainer Bobby Frankel. Group I placed in his native country, Out of Control has won two of four against allowance foes on the Southern California circuit this year.
$250,000 American Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 5, 2:06 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Becrux (ITY), 118, David R. Flores
2. Lang Field (KY), 114, Jon K. Court
3. The Tin Man (KY), 123, Victor Espinoza
4. Willow O Wisp (FL), 117, Joseph Talamo
5. Right Special (BRZ), 117, Brice Blanc
6. Out of Control (BRZ), 113, Michael C. Baze
7. Fast and Furious (FR), 114, Alex O. Solis