SANTA ANITA TO OFFER FIVE GRADE I BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN & YOU’RE IN’ PREPS ON BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE DAY, SATURDAY
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2014)–Zayat Stables homebred American Pharoah, an emphatic 4 ¾ length winner of the seven furlong Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3, appears to be a complete standout in Santa Anita’s Grade I, $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday.
Trained by Bob Baffert, the bay ridgling by Pioneerof the Nile will be making his third career start in the FrontRunner, and his first around two turns. Breaking from the rail in the Del Mar Futurity, he broke slightly inwards, but recovered to make the lead in-hand while setting fractions of 22.60, 45.20 and 1:08.80 He cruised home, getting seven furlongs on synthetic Polytrack in 1:21.40, while fairly toying with eight rivals at odds of 3-1. The effort earned him a giant Beyer Speed figure of 101, far and away the best last-out “Beyer” of anyone in the FrontRunner lineup.
Although well beaten, the Peter Miller-conditioned Calculator was the only Futurity runner within hailing distance of American Pharoah, as the Florida-bred colt by In Summation was 8 ¼ lengths clear of his nearest rival–an effort good enough to earn him a Beyer Speed figure of 90.
Owned by Richard C. Pell, Calculator has run three times and will also try a route of ground for the first time on Saturday. Calculator has remained at San Luis Rey Downs since winning at Del Mar and has worked twice in preparation for the FrontRunner, his most recent drill a six furlong move in 1:13 flat on Sept. 20. Hot riding Elvis Trujillo will ride back.
Skyway, who ran fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Del Mar Futurity, won the Grade II, 6 ½ furlong Best Pal Stakes two starts back and will try to regain his form for trainer Mike Casse on Saturday. A first-out 4 ½ furlong winner over Keeneland’s Polytrack April 5, the chestnut colt by Sky Mesa worked a rapid five furlongs in 59.60 at Santa Anita on Sept. 18, best of 61 at the distance. He’s owned by John C. Oxley and will be making his fifth career start, and his first around two turns.
Casse will also saddle first-out maiden special weight winner Conquest Panthera, who overcame a troubled start to win going six furlongs by 1 ¼ lengths at Del Mar on Aug. 24. The heavy 1-2 favorite in a field of seven, the Kitten’s Joy colt fetched $475,000 at an Ocala, Florida, 2-year-old in training sale this past March. He’s owned by Conquest Stables, LLC.
Texas Red, trained and co-owned by Keith Desormeaux, rated kindly and broke his maiden impressively by 1 ½ lengths going a flat mile on Polytrack Aug. 20 at Del Mar. Although he’ll get a class test, his tractability makes him a serious contender in the FrontRunner, his fourth career start. Owned by Brehm, Detmar, Voss and partners, the Afleet Alex colt will be ridden back by Desormeaux’s Hall of Fame brother, Kent.
Bob Baffert’s Lord Nelson was an impressive first-out maiden special weight winner going five furlongs at Del Mar on July 19 and the son of Pulpit obviously has precocity in his corner. A $340,000 Keeneland September yearling, Lord Nelson was the 5-2 favorite in a field of 10 and will be ridden back by Martin Garcia.
John Sadler’s Daddy D T rallied boldly through the lane at 5-2 to take the one mile (turf) Oak Tree Juvenile Turf by a half length at Del Mar on Sept. 3 under Corey Nakatani. With “C-Nak” opting to ride Skyway, Rafael Bejarano will take over on the ridgling by Scat Daddy, who will be making his third career start. He’s owned by Hronis Racing, LLC.
Second to Daddy D T on Sept. 3, trainer Doug O’Neill’s Sky Preacher was a one mile turf maiden winner two starts back at Santa Anita on June 27. He’ll be making his fifth start and will be ridden for the fourth time in-a-row by Tyler Baze.
The complete field for the Grade I FrontRunner, to be run as the sixth race on an 11-race program Saturday, with jockeys and all horses assigned 122 pounds: Texas Red, Kent Desormeaux; Lord Nelson, Martin Garcia; Sky Preacher, Tyler Baze; Daddy D T, Rafael Bejarano; Red Button, Fernando Perez; Reflected Star, Joe Talamo; American Pharoah, Victor Espinoza; Conquest Panthera, Mike Smith; Skyway, Corey Nakatani, and Calculator, Elvis Trujillo.