07/10/2009 11:00PM

Reb and Leparoux take American Derby

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Four-Footed Fotos
Reb and Julien Leparoux were last turning for home in the Grade 2 American Derby but rallied on the outside to get up for a head victory in deep stretch.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Julien Leparoux won his second graded stakes on the Million Preview card Saturday at Arlington, guiding Reb to an improbable victory in the .

Reb, in from Keeneland for trainer Rusty Arnold, won his maiden in April by a head, and won an entry-level allowance in May by a nose. Turning for home in the American Derby, his stakes debut, it did not seem possible that Reb would win at all. Reb ran in last place much of the race, and was last at the head of the homestretch, locked inside and blocked by a wall of horses.

"I thought he had no chance coming down the stretch," said Arnold's assistant, Jack Bohannan, who saddled Reb.

But Leparoux has the magic touch, doesn't he? Two races earlier he had guided Pure Clan to a popular victory in the Modesty Handicap. That was easy. On Reb, Leparoux finally found a chance to come off the fence before the eighth pole, briefly drafted in behind Giant Oak and rallying Oil Man, wound up widest of all, and gunned down pacesetting No Inflation at the wire. Reb, owned by Ashbrook Farm, won by a head, running 1 3/16 miles in 1:56.09, and paying $13.20 to win.

No Inflation, who had a two-length lead at the stretch call after fending off early pressure from Vaquero, held second, a half-length in front of Oil Man. Oil Man was disqualified from third to fifth for coming over on Giant Oak and Proceed Bee, who took the worst of things. Proceed Bee was placed third, 3-5 favorite Giant Oak moved up to fourth.

Giant Oak, hard-held early, made a move past the three-furlong pole, but flattened out turning for home and was no factor.

"He was a little rank early," said jockey Eddie Razo.

So was Reb, who tried to take off when Dakota Gypsy passed him along the fence going by the stands for the first time. Reb shook his head and fought Leparoux briefly into the first turn, but dropped the bit and settled at the back of the pack. Both Leparoux and Bohannan wondered if Reb would run at all, but when Giant Oak passed him at the half-mile pole, Reb picked up the bit, firing home with a quick final furlong.