American Freedom and Rafael Bejarano take the Iowa Derby.

American Freedom and Rafael Bejarano take the Iowa Derby.

Coady Photography

American Freedom Clear Winner in Iowa Derby

Victory was the third for trainer Bob Baffert in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Gary and Mary West's American Freedom  earned his first graded score with a clear victory in the $250,000 Iowa Derby (gr. III) July 1 at Prairie Meadows

Video: Iowa Derby (G3)

The 4 3/4-length victory for the Pulpit colt under jockey Rafael Bejarano gave trainer Bob Baffert his third victory in the 1 1/16-mile race. Bejarano also guided Prayer for Relief  to victory for the Hall of Fame trainer in 2011 and Concord Point won the 2010 edition.

Off as the 1-5 favorite in the scratch-shortened filed of six, American Freedom engaged in a trio of duels on the front end at different times in the nighttime feature, but put away all challengers.

First it was Lookin for a Kiss through a quarter-mile in :23.52, but the Lookin At Lucky  colt faded in the backstretch. Catfish Creek rushed up on the inside to take his place as the half went in :47.75 but similarly dropped back. Texas Chrome pulled within a head through six furlongs in 1:12.49 and proved to be the only one with staying power with a second-place finish, four lengths clear of Hint of Roses.

American Freedom pulled away to run a mile in 1:36.58 and hit the wire in 1:42.62 under a hand ride from Bejarano late.

The winner paid $2.60, $2.20, and $2.20 across the board. Texas Chrome brought $3.40 and $2.20, and Hint of Roses delivered $2.60.

Bred in Kentucky by Centaur Farms from the Pleasant Tap mare Gottcha Last, American Freedom has three wins from four starts and is on a two-stakes win streak following his LARC Sir Barton score on Preakness (gr. I) day May 21 at Pimlico Race Course. His only blemish is a sixth-place run in the Pat Day Mile (gr. III).

Earlier in the card, Bejarano secured the first leg of his Friday night stakes double with a 9-1 upset victory aboard Godolphin's Innovative Idea in the $100,000 Iowa Distaff. The Darley-bred Bernardini  filly, trained by Eoin Harty, outfinished 1-2 favorite Super Majesty to win by three-quarters of a length.