Illinois-Bred Longshot Wins American Derby

On a rain softened turf course at Arlington Park Sunday, 18-1 Fan Club's Mister pulled away from fellow longshot Monsieur Cat to earn a 3 1/2-length win in the $250,000 American Derby (gr. IIT).

Monsier Cat dawdled through the opening quarter-mile run in :25.77 before Fan Club's Mister assumed a half-length lead after a half-mile run in :51.80 on the soft turf, with favored Royal Spy third. Those three continued on in that order to the wire with the winner completing the 1 3/16 miles in 2:03.27 under jockey Randall Meier.

"He did everything we wanted him to," Meier said. "He's been training super. He's been relaxing more every time I get on him. I was able to set the pace. Today he relaxed and he was pricking his ears. Whenever I wanted to move, he'd move and then he'd settle again. I didn't want anybody to get in front of him. When we turned for home, I had a lot of horse. He handled the course beautifully. We were concerned because of the rain and the soft course, but it sure didn't bother him."

Monsieur Cat finished three-quarter lengths ahead of Royal Spy, with Sligo Bay another 3 3/4 lengths back in fourth. Heptagone and Rahy's Secret completed the order of finish. Cherokee Kim was pulled up with an injury to his left front leg. The injured horse was taken back to the barn after a splint was placed on his leg.

Fan Club's Mister (Mr. Greeley--Exciting Fandance, by Lear Fan) earned $150,000 for the win, his fourth in 11 career starts. The American Derby marks his first graded stakes win. When last out, he finished fourth in the Arlington Classic Stakes (gr. IIT) after winning the Canterbury Park Breeders' Cup Derby. Trained by Rickey B. Harris, Fan Club's Mister was bred in Illinois by Miessler--Raber Partners.

"We haven't really thought about it," Harris said when asked about running Fan Club's Mister in the Secretariat, "but if he continues keep doing as well as he is, I don't see why we shouldn't."

Fan Club's Mister returned $38.20, $14.60, and $4.80. Monsieur Cat paid $20 and $6.80. Royal Spy was worth $2.80 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $500.20. (Chart, Equibase)