American Pioneer, a romping maiden winner and late Triple Crown nominee, is under consideration for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) April 16 at Oaklawn Park, trainer Wayne Catalano said March 24.
Under Catalano's son-in-law, Channing Hill, American Pioneer was a geared-down 3 3/4-length winner of the 11th race at Oaklawn March 19, a 1 1/16-mile maiden-allowance event for 3-year-olds. His time of 1:44.46 was just off the 1:43.84 Cupid needed to win the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) about a half-hour earlier on the card. The Rebel is the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby.
A son of Awesome Again , American Pioneer was coming off a troubled second in his Jan. 18 debut at Oaklawn. The winner, unbeaten Dazzling Gem, is entered in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
"We've always liked the horse," Catalano said. "If you saw the maiden race, he probably should have won that race. A pretty good horse beat him."
A $230,000 Keeneland September yearling sales graduate, American Pioneer is owned by Catalano's major clients Gary and Mary West. The Wests won the 1993 Arkansas Derby with 108-1 outsider Rockamundo and paid $6,000 to make American Pioneer one of nine late Triple Crown nominees. The late nomination period closed March 21.
Catalano saddled Crypto Star to win the 1997 Arkansas Derby.