07/08/2017 5:33PM

Sonic Boom has first graded-stakes win in American Derby

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Four Footed Fotos
Sonic Boom paid $3.20 in winning the American Derby at Arlington on Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Pushed early by third-choice Hembree, Sonic Boom still had plenty left to fend off second-choice Gorgeous Kitten and win the Grade 3, $100,000 American Derby on Saturday at Arlington.

Sonic Boom, winning his first graded stakes, is trained by Ian Wilkes for owner Robert Lothenbach. He’s a son of More than Ready out of the Indian Charlie mare Silent Circle who won for the fourth time in eight starts. Sonic Boom ran 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:49.90 (the portable rail was out in lane 5) and paid $3.20 after taking heavy late betting action. My Bariley, who stumbled badly at the start, finished decently for third.

Sonic Boom’s mother and grandmother both were sprinters, and Sonic Boom had yet to race beyond 1 1/16 miles or win beyond one mile. Wilkes said he wanted to see how Sonic Boom handled a longer trip, and his colt answered in the affirmative Saturday.

Sonic Boom got hot during the post-parade and the warm-up and was lathered in sweat as he broke from the gate, went to the lead, and quickly was challenged by a headstrong Hembree. But Wilkes said Sonic Boom is a habitual sweater, and jockey Julien Leparoux said that when Sonic Boom hit the backstretch he switched off nicely. “Down the backside he relaxed for me,” he said.

Sonic Boom went 23.43 (with a tail-wind) for the first quarter and 48.05 to the half, and while those are not quicksilver fractions, the pace was solid enough with the rail out so far and in a 1 1/8-mile race. Sonic Boom cruised into the far turn with a big lead, but the chasers began closing in at the three-furlong pole and had narrowed the margin considerably at the top of the stretch. But Sonic Boom had something for them. Though he races with his head held somewhat high, Sonic Boom quickened up nicely for Leparoux, and with a last eighth-mile in 11.55 seconds, he had little trouble holding Gorgeous Kitten at bay. Sonic Boom led by 2 1/2 lengths at the stretch call and won by 1 3/4.

“It was a step forward,” Wilkes said. “I think Julien is figuring out how to ride him.”

“The one time we tried to rate him, he didn’t really like that,” Leparoux said. “You kind of leave him alone and let him run his race.”

Sonic Boom probably has run his way into Grade 1 competition; Wilkes said the colt is likely to return for the Secretariat next month.

"He’s proved he handles this turf course, and he got a strong mile and an eighth today,” Wilkes said. “I’d love to take a shot at it.”