11/21/2009 12:00AM

American Lion handles class jump in Prevue


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The highly touted American Lion made the successful jump from the maiden ranks to stakes competition when he scored a half-length victory in the on Saturday at Hollywood Park.

American Lion ($3.40) sat in third place during the early going as Macias, trained by Bob Baffert, led stablemate Indian Firewater through fractions of 22.59 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.81 seconds for a half-mile. Julien Leparoux, who flew in for the mount, began asking American Lion aggressively on the turn, but it took him another furlong to find his best stride.

Once he did, American Lion shot right to the front, but he seemed to idle and go one-paced to the wire. He completed seven furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:22.49. Get My Fix, a 20-1 shot, rallied from last in the eight-horse field to finish second, three-quarters of a length in front of third-place Seattle Ruler.

"Around the three-eighths pole, I thought we were in trouble. He was under a ride," said Eoin Harty, who trains American Lion. But once American Lion got to the front, "He flicked his and looked at everything," Harty said.

"But there's plenty of time between now and Derby Day to get that ironed out, if we're lucky enough to get there," Harty said.

American Lion, a 2-year-old colt by Tiznow, is owned by the WinStar Farm of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt, which bred American Lion in partnership.

American Lion finished second in his debut at Arlington Park in September, then was a runaway winner against maidens at Keeneland. He is now based in Southern California. Harty said his next start could come in the Grade 1, $750,000 Cash Call Futurity here on Dec. 19.