American Freedom flies flag for Wests, Baffert in Iowa Derby

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

June 27th, 2016

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has always been high on the late-developing three-year-old American Freedom, the aptly-named colt who can kick off the long Independence Day weekend in fine style with a victory Friday night in the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) at Prairie Meadows.

A son of Pulpit campaigned by Gary and Mary West, American Freedom made a belated debut April 9 at Santa Anita, winning a seven-furlong maiden in the slop by 1 1/2-lengths. Although a disappointment as the 7-5 favorite in the Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill on Derby Day, American Freedom rebounded from that sixth-place effort to gamely take the $100,000 Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard, re-rallying in deep stretch to win by a length over next-out winner Voluntario.

"Last time I think he just got away bad and they went really fast that day," said Baffert after the Sir Barton regarding the Pat Day Mile.

With the weather forecast generally optimistic, American Freedom should get the chance to show what he can do over a fast track. His main rival appears to be Synchrony, who flirted with the classic trail over the winter at Oaklawn until a disappointing sixth in the Southwest (G3). The Pin Oak homebred will add blinkers for the Iowa Derby following a last-out third to the Baffert-trained Connected in the Lexington (G3) April 16.

Also among those lining up in the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby are multiple stakes winner Texas Chrome, exiting at third in the Matt Winn (G3); Prairie Mile runner-up Catfish Creek; and Lookin for a Kiss, unplaced as a longshot in both the Blue Grass (G1) and Pat Day Mile.

Earlier in the card, Grade 3 winner Super Majesty seeks her first win since the Dogwood (G3) in September in the $100,000 Iowa Distaff at 1 1/16 miles. Recently fourth in the Allaire du Pont Distaff at Pimlico (G3), Super Majesty's main rivals figure to be Ribbon of Darkness, Sweet Opportunity, and All Star Bub.

(Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)