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Maiden winner & late TC nominee American Pioneer headed to Arkansas Derby

By TwinSpires Staff

Edited Press Release

Late Triple Crown nominee American Pioneer is pointing for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 16 at Oaklawn Park, trainer Wayne Catalano said Thursday morning.

Owned by the trainer’s major client, Gary and Mary West, American Pioneer broke his maiden by 3 3/4 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile race March 19 at Oaklawn.

He was coming off a troubled second in his January 18 career debut at Oaklawn to Dazzling Gem, who returned from that one-mile maiden to take a 1 1/16-mile allowance by two lengths over the track before shipping to Fair Grounds for a third-place run in his stakes debut in last Saturday’s Louisiana Derby (G2).

American Pioneer, in his first work since his maiden victory, breezed five furlongs over Oaklawn’s fast track in 1:01 Wednesday morning. Catalano called the work a “maintenance” move.

“We don’t need times now,” the horseman said. “We don’t need a fast work now. We know he’s fast, right?”

American Pioneer was purchased for $230,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The Wests paid $6,000 to make the bay son of Awesome Again one of nine late Triple Crown nominees.

Other Oaklawn-based horses pointing for the Arkansas Derby include Southwest (G3) victor Suddenbreakingnews; dual stakes winner Discreetness; Whitmore, runner-up in both the Rebel (G2) and Southwest; Creator, who rallied from well out of it to take third in the Rebel; and Southwest third-placer American Dubai.

Creator worked a half-mile in :51 over a fast track Tuesday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Steve Asmussen.