Ireland's Evolving Tactics Looks Tough In American Derby

Trainer Dermot Weld, Ireland's all-time leading conditioner, shipped Highland Farms, et al.'s Pine Dance to win the 2000 American Derby and sent Moyglare Stud Ltd.'s Jazz Beat to run second in the 2002 renewal of the race. This year, Weld sends Moyglare's Evolving Tactics over from the Emerald Isle to headline Sunday's running of the $250,000 American Derby (gr. IIT), presented by Jack Daniels.

The 1 3/16th-mile American Derby is the second leg of Arlington Park's Mid-America Triple for 3-year-olds that began with the $175,000 Arlington Classic (gr. IIT), presented by Woodford Reserve and won by J. J. Pletcher and Barry Simon's Lismore Knight, at 1 1/16 miles on June 28. The turf series concludes with the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 16, the same day as the Arlington Million (gr. IT) and Beverly D. (gr. IT).

A son of Machiavellian, Evolving Tactics makes his North American debut after finishing third in the Hampton Court Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting on June 19. In that 1 1/4-mile race, he raced mid-pack early and ran into a little trouble with less than two furlongs to run but stayed on well to nail down third place. Previously he finished ninth after tracking leaders in the Entennman's Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh. Patrick Smullen will make the cross Atlantic journey to pilot Evolving Tactics in the American Derby.

His main competition is likely to come from the English-bred Californian, who races in the colors of Stephen Taub, Neil Papiano, and Noctis Stable. The Kristin Mulhall-trained son of Zafonic ships in from his base in California but his two North American starts have both been in Kentucky. Last time out, Californian finished eighth in the Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs on May 2. Prior to that race, he was a 3 1/4-length victor in the $111,000 Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland in April. Kent Desormeaux has been named to ride.

Set to face the top pair are: Marshall and Jackie Trautwein's Bim's Baby Bun, Eusebio Razo Jr. in the irons; Dolphus Morrison's Rapid Proof, Calvin Borel up; Jer-Mar Stables' Scottago, Carlos Marquez Jr.; Everest Stables' Gato Gato Gato, Chris Emigh; and Dr. Glen Warren's G. W.'s Skippie, Rene Douglas.

Of these, Scottago and Rapid Proof finished a nose apart in fourth-and fifth-place respectively, in the Arlington Classic. The former, a Hugh Robertson-trained son of Lear Fan is a winner over this course, capturing a one-mile allowance race here on May 23. The latter, by Fast Play, is winless this year but has fared well in stakes competition. The Hal Wiggins-trained colt was second to Californian in the Forerunner, finished ahead of that rival in the Crown Royal American Turf and ran third behind Senor Swinger in the Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.

American Derby (gr. IIT), 1 3/16 miles, turf, 3-year-olds
Post, Horse, Odds
1, Bim's Baby Bun, 15-1
2, Rapid Proof, 3-1
3, Scottago, 4-1
4, Gato Gato Gato, 20-1
5, Californian, 2-1
6, G. W.'s Skippie, 8-1
7, Evolving Tactics, 5-2