08/26/2006 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron takes St. Louis Derby

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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - Neither an injury induced layoff nor an unfamiliar track proved a hindrance to Lawyer Ron in the $250,000 at Fairmount Park Saturday night.

Rated in midpack by regular rider John McKee, Lawyer Ron launched a bid around the far turn, took the lead turning for home, and determinedly held on through the stretch to win by three-quarters of a lengths over 30-1 longshot Smokeyjonessutton. Lewis Michael, the second choice in the wagering, finished another two lengths behind in third.

Lawyer Ron returned $3.60 as the favorite in a field reduced to 10 by the scratches of Sweet Grass Creek and Kid Lemonade. He covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.80 over a track rated good due to rain earlier in the day.

The St. Louis Derby was Lawyer Ron's first start since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby, and his first since undergoing surgery to remove a chip in his right hind ankle. Prior to the Kentucky Derby, Lawyer Ron had won six straight races, including the Arkansas Derby.

Lawyer Ron, the first Kentucky Derby starter to compete at Fairmount Park in decades, was the main attraction in the inaugural St. Louis Derby, which attracted an announced crowd of 7,848.

Bumping with More Than Regal leaving the gate, Lawyer Ron found himself in fifth after a half-mile, which the front-running General Darby covered in 46.20 seconds. Lewis Michael, tracking in third, was the first to collar the pacesetters with Smokeyjonessutton and Lawyer Ron not far behind. Lawyer Ron moved outside Lewis Michael while Smokeyjonessutton rallied inside that rival around the turn, and it turned into a battle between those two down the stretch.

"I was very comfortable, I was confident the whole way," McKee said. "I knew there was a fast pace and I know this colt can rate. He put in a dominant performance today."

Lawyer Ron has now cleared the first of two hurdles on a path trainer Bob Holthus has set to get the son of Langfuhr to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. Provided he comes out of the St. Louis Derby in good shape, Lawyer Ron will have his final prep in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 23.

"I think he got something out of the race," said Holthus, "It had been a long time since he ran."

Lawyer Ron, whose only loss on a conventional dirt surface remains the Kentucky Derby, earned a winner's share of $150,000, which pushed his career earnings to $1,240,800.

*Lady Riss ($9.20) continued her dominance over the Fairmount strip Saturday night, this time by defeating six male rivals in the $40,700 Circle C Classic Handicap for Illinois-breds. Lady Riss headed the pacesetting Bebasque around the far turn and pulled clear of that rival in the final furlong to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Odds-on favorite Barely Union Scale edged Bebasque for second by a head.

Ridden by Luis Robletto for trainer Rusty Hellman, Lady Riss covered a mile and 70 yards in 1:42.86. Lady Riss now has 12 wins in 16 starts at Fairmount with 4 seconds.