Updated on 09/16/2011 8:51AM

Mananan McLir best in American Derby


CHICAGO - Trainer Wally Dollase's "A" team came up just short three weeks ago in the Arlington Classic, but the "B" team was good enough Sunday in the Grade 2, $225,000 . There, the Dollase-trained Mananan McLir wore down Irish invader Jazz Beat to win by three-quarters of a length, avenging Doc Holiday's narrow defeat to Mr. Mellon in the Classic.

The two turf races for 3-year-olds are part of Arlington's loosely linked Mid-America Triple, which concludes in a month with the Grade 1 Secretariat. Neither Doc Holiday nor Mr. Mellon showed up for the second leg, and while the top two finishers Sunday staged a satisfying stretch duel, it's questionable whether either is of Grade 1 caliber at this point.

Doc Holiday had shown stronger California form than Mananan McLir, who shipped to Arlington just this week. A European import owned by Michael Jarvis, Gary Margolis and others, Mananana McLir had raced four times in this country without winning, his best finish a second behind fellow American Derby runner Cappuchino in a minor Bay Meadows stakes.

But thanks in great part to another tremendous ride by jockey Rene Douglas, who won eight races here this weekend, Mananan McLir wound up in the winner's circle Sunday's. Douglas, who has won all but one graded stakes race this meet, saved ground while Mananan McLir raced well behind the slow pace of Cappuchino, Scooter Roach and Afleet Buck.

Jazz Beat loped along just behind the pace, and it became clear going into the final turn that Douglas was following the Irish colt. When jockey Pat Smullen let Jazz Beat range up to engage the leaders, Douglas asked Mananan McLir to quicken, and the colt quickly reached contention turning for home. Jazz Beat opened up at the top of the stretch but Mananan McLir and Douglas quickly were there at his side. Jazz Beat fought back for a moment, but couldn't match strides and clearly was beaten in the final half-furlong, while holding clear Extra Check by another three-quarters of a length for the place.

Mananan McLir was timed in 1:57.11 over firm turf while racing his final furlong in less than 12 seconds. Jazz Beat was narrowly favored over Mananan McLir, who paid $6.60 to win.

Dollase and Dermot Weld, Jazz Beat's trainer, both expressed interest running their horse back in the Secretariat.