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Workin for Hops Wins Grade II American Derby; 2/3 of Way to Mid-America Triple
Estrorace LLC's Workin for Hops, winner of the Arlington Classic in May, added the second leg of the Mid-America Triple to his resume when he took the lead at the half-mile pole and drew off to a 2 1/4-length tally in the Grade II $200,000 American Derby at Arlington Park.
Ridden by Francisco Torres, who picked up the mount when scheduled jockey Robby Albarado encountered travel troubles and was unable to make the trip to Chicago, the Mike Stidham-trained son of City Zip covered the mile and three-sixteenths over firm turf in 1:55.47.
"It's one of those opportunities where you have to be in the right place at the right time and I'd like to thank Michael (Stidham, trainer) for letting me ride this horse today," said Torres.
Workin for Hops sat just off the pace of Marcello, who led through fractions of 24.98 seconds, 50.27 seconds and 1:14.07. Working for Hops edged to the lead entering the far turn and proved to be much the best.
"The turf has been speed favoring so I kind of let him fall out of there," Torres added. "We found ourselves close to the front end and slow fractions developed. When I called on him, he prevailed."
With the victory Workin for Hops is positioned to become the first horse since Honor Glide in 1997 to sweep the Mid-America Triple with a win in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 21. In addition to the $115,200 winner's share, Workin for Hops earns an automatic berth into the Secretariat with entry and starting fees waived for that mile and a quarter race.
"He's really amazing," Stidham said. "He does things so easily and he's beaten some really good horses. We couldn't be happier. I would say that's pretty likely (that he'll run back in the Secretariat). If he's doing good, that's where we're planning on going."
Longshot Mister Marti Gras ran second in the nine-horse field, a half-length clear of Dean's Kitten who was third through the finish line but disqualified and placed fourth behind Gleam of Hope for interference in the stretch.
Mint Chip, Asphalt, Dream Nettie, Marcello and Formulaforsuccess completed the order of finish.
Sent off as the 3-2 betting favorite, Workin for Hops paid $5, $3.80 and $3. Mister Marti Gras returned $11.80 and $6.40. Gleam of Hope paid $4.