10/09/2010 6:20PM

Yankee Fourtune wires Hawthorne Derby

Doug Clark/Four-Footed Fotos
Yankee Fourtune scores a front-running victory in the Hawthorne Derby.

STICKNEY, Ill. – Hey, this McLaughlin guy seems to know what he’s doing.

New York-based trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sent two horses to Hawthorne a week before last. Redding Colliery won the Hawthorne Gold Cup on Oct. 2, and late Saturday afternoon, Yankee Fourtune cruised to a front-running score in the Grade 3, $150,000 Hawthorne Derby.

Yankee Fourtune finished seventh last year in his lone start, a dirt sprint at Monmouth, but he has turned into a tiger in 2010 after being switched to grass. A 2 1/4-length victory here Saturday made Yankee Fourtune a perfect 4 for 4 this season, and really, no one has gotten close to the grey gelding. He won his three races in New York by more than 15 lengths combined and never was seriously threatened on a summery afternoon here.

The result made a first-time stakes winners of co-owner Andrew Albstein and jockey Victor Santiago, Yankee Fourtune’s only rider this year. Santiago, 24, had failed to finish third or better in the first 10 stakes races of his career. Albstein is partners on Yankee Fourtune with Harvey Clark.

“I was happy to go to Hawthorne with this horse,” Santiago said. “I trust me, and I trust him.”

Santiago’s only anxious moment came in the race’s first furlong. Yankee Fourtune broke from the outside gate in a field reduced to seven by the scratch of Turf Melody, and when Santiago crossed over to make the lead, it caused a slight jam-up that resulted in Dean’s Kitten checking.

Once clear, Yankee Fourtune was gone. Racing on a hard, fast-playing course, he set splits of 23.42 seconds for his opening quarter-mile, 47.50 for his first half, and 1:11.03 for six furlongs.

But the thing that makes Yankee Fourtune pretty good is the late kick he can deliver after making a quick pace. Running his final three furlongs in 35.25, Yankee Fourtune proved uncatchable. His final time was 1:46.28 for nine furlongs, and he paid $4 to win.

Mister Marti Gras rallied late for second and was followed by Asphalt, Cherokee Lord, Dean’s Kitten, Call Shot, and Backtrack.

Yankee Fourtune, a son of Yankee Gentleman, was bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones.