American Pioneer, a romping maiden winner and late Triple Crown nominee, is under consideration for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16 at Oaklawn, trainer Wayne Catalano said Thursday afternoon.
Under Catalano’s son-in-law, Channing Hill, American Pioneer was a geared-down 3 ¾-length winner of Saturday’s 11th race at Oaklawn, 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 (G2) 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 career debut at Oaklawn. The winner, unbeaten Dazzling Gem, is entered in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) Saturday at Fair Grounds.
“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 client, 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 Monday.
Catalano saddled Crypto Star to win the 1997 Arkansas Derby.
Locally based horses pointing for the Arkansas Derby include Whitmore, Creator, Suddenbreakingnews and Discreetness.
Source: Oaklawn Park