07/09/2016 7:31PM

One Mean Man's late push pays off in American Derby

Four-Footed Fotos
One Mean Man wins the American Derby at Arlington Park on Sunday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – One Mean Man, trainer Bernie Flint said, came out of the Arlington Classic, in which he took a head loss to Surgical Strike, thinking he had won the race. Saturday, the colt left no doubt about who was best in the Grade 3, $125,000 American Derby, winning by a half-length over Oscar Nominated.

One Mean Man was making the seventh start of his 3-year-old season and racing just 14 days after narrowly winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs, but all the experience appears to be doing him good. Typically close to the pace in his two-turn races, One Mean Man settled comfortably in ninth Saturday, making his move past the three-eighths pole and into the stretch.

“He’s getting bigger and stronger by the day,” said Flint, who co-bred and co-owns One Mean Man with Ron Hillerich. “He looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You wouldn’t expect him to be able to run a mile and an eighth on turf. He really, really settled down and ran his race today. He’s only 3. He’s learning all the time.”

Robby Albarado, winning his second stakes of the day, said there was no concrete plan to take One Mean Man back off the lead Saturday. “Today he showed a new dimension. Trying to get a mile and an eighth, I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible,” Albarado said.

The first quarter-mile, with a tail-wind, went in a moderate 23.83 with 50/1 shot Weavers Ice Cold leading Tequila Joe into the first turn. The half-mile split, the horses running into the wind, was a tepid 48.88, and off the moderate gallop, Carlos Marquez Jr. went early with Tequila Joe, taking the lead past the three-eighths pole. Weavers Ice Cold could not counter, and when he backed up it took a perfect pocket trip away from Oscar Nominated, who had to leave the rail and brushed with Swagger Jack at the quarter-pole. And as Oscar Nominated and Swagger Jack took their run at Tequila Joe, One Mean Man was finding his best stride. He swooped in four wide at the quarter-pole and quickly moved into contention, making the front in the final half-furlong while going his final three furlongs in less than 35 seconds.

“I’ve ridden him a few times, and this was one of his better efforts, especially from the quarter-pole home,” Albarado said.

One Mean Man was timed in 1:48.86 for nine furlongs on firm turf and paid $13.80 to win. Oscar Nominated finished one length in front of Tequila Joe, with Swagger Jack a neck back in fourth. Second-choice J R’s Holiday never seriously factored and finished seventh.

One Mean Man and Oscar Nominated are likely starters here next month in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, their trainers said.

One Mean Man, by Mizzen Mast, is the third foal to race produced by the Grand Slam mare Abbeyville Miss, and all have been runners. Mizzen Miss won three of seven starts. Her sister, Mizz Money, is in the midst of a successful career and won the Grade 3 Pucker Up over nine furlongs here last summer.