- TRIPLE CROWN KING ‘PHAROAH’ RETURNS HOME
- OAKS DISTANCE SUITS CONQUEST CURLGIRL
- BEJARANO AND STEVENS HAVE NEW AGENTS
- SPANISH QUEEN, KENTUCKIAN IN TOP WORKS
AMERICAN PHAROAH ON PARADE JUNE 27
It wasn’t quite the reception Lindbergh received at Orly Field after conquering the Atlantic solo in 1927, but American Pharoah was treated like a Triple Crown winner should when he arrived at his Santa Anita home late Thursday morning before a throng of media and well-wishers that included Academy Award winning actress Julia Roberts.
After a flight from Kentucky and a police escort from Ontario Airport to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Barn 5 at 11:40 a.m., the 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile owned and bred by Ahmed Zayat settled in comfortably without so much as hiccup after much fanfare following a historic five-week run during which he became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to capture the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
“It’s great to have him back home,” said Baffert among a crush of media this morning at Barn 5. “Honestly, winning the Triple Crown is bigger than anything I could’ve imagined. I figured it would be kinda like winning the Kentucky Derby . . . That things would quiet down after a few days, but this is just getting bigger and bigger. We had helicopters following him from the airport and I thanked the guys with Arcadia P.D. It’s just tremendous and we’re so fortunate to have a great horse like this.”
The Triple Crown winner’s countless fans and well-wishers will have an opportunity to see him in the flesh when American Pharoah makes a public appearance at Santa Anita on Gold Cup Day, a week from Saturday, June 27.
“We want to thank American Pharoah’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, and his trainer, Bob Baffert, for being so incredibly generous in sharing this horse with fans from coast to coast,” said Santa Anita Chairman Keith Brackpool.
“We’re excited to present him to the public on June 27. It should be a tremendous day for those joining us on track and on television throughout the world.”
In addition to a blockbuster card that includes the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, the Grade I, $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes, the Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes and the Grade III, $100,000 Senorita Stakes, all fans will receive an officially licensed “American Pharoah Triple Crown Champion” T-shirt free with paid admission and Santa Anita Thoroughbreds Club membership. (Thoroughbreds Club signups will be available free at all T-shirt distribution locations).
NBCSN will televise the Gold Cup live from 5 to 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
CONQUEST CURLGIRL SEEKS TO CORRAL SUMMERTIME OAKS
Conquest Curlgirl goes from a maiden allowance win to a Grade II race when she runs in Saturday’s $200,000 Summertime Oaks at 1 1/16 miles for trainer Mark Casse.
“I don’t think it will be a problem,” said Randi Melton, who oversees the Southern California division of Casse’s international operation. “She went from a second at six furlongs in her first race to a mile in her maiden win and improved, so we’re looking forward to the mile and a sixteenth.”
A chestnut filly by two-time horse of the Year Curlin owned by Conquest Stables LLC, Conquest Curlgirl’s dam is the Easy Goer mare Montera, which would seem to confirm Melton’s opinion that she can get a distance.
Easy Goer won the mile and a half Belmont in 1989, turning the tables on Kentucky Derby and Preakness conqueror Sunday Silence.
The field for the Oaks, race eight of nine: All Star Bub, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1; Sheer Pleasure, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Danette, Fernando Perez, 15-1; Guild, Flavien Prat, 30-1; Roksana, Felipe Valdez, 12-1; Tara’s Tango, Mike Smith, 4-1; Conquest Curlgirl, Joe Talamo, 12-1; Scat Means Go, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Stellar Wind, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; and Fantastic Style, Martin Garcia, 7-2.
BEJARANO, STEVENS HAVE NEW AGENTS
Under the heading of major news on the jockey agent front, perennial Southern California riding king Rafael Bejarano has parted company with agent Joe Ferrer and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has spilt with Craig O’Bryan.
Bejarano will now be represented by Tora Yamaguchi, the current Stakes Coordinator at Santa Anita, while Stevens will be represented by former top agent Ron Ebanks, who has been involved with other ventures the past three years. Yamaguchi will begin his run starting with the Los Alamitos meet on July 2, while Ebanks and Stevens will officially pair up at the start of Del Mar on July 16.
“Craig and I are great friends and we had a great run,” Stevens said. “He’s doing great with Tyler (Baze) and doing great with me, but I want to expand a little bit and want a little individuality. Ron became available and was ready to go back to work. We’ve always wanted to work together so we’re excited.
“Craig and I are like family . . . It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but we’re excited to move forward.”
Said Ebanks: “Gary and I have been friends for almost 28 years. We always had it in mind to get together but it never worked out. Timing is everything, however, and I’m looking forward to our future together.”
Through 31 racing days at Santa Anita’s Spring Meet, Bejarano held a 39-28 lead over runner-up Baze and was tops in purse earnings with $1,832,842. Stevens had six wins from 24 rides and his mounts had earned $576,100.
FINISH LINES: American Oaks winner Spanish Queen worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course on a warm Thursday morning under regular rider Brice Blanc in a bullet 1:00.80 for trainer Richard Baltas. “We’re pointing to the Belmont Oaks (Invitational) July 4,” Baltas said. “We’re going for the big money.” The mile and a quarter turf race offers a purse of $1 million . . . Laz Barrera winner Kentuckian, ticketed for the $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby on July 4, worked seven furlongs with Mike Smith up for Jerry Hollendorfer in 1:23.60 . . . Tomorrow is another 4 o’clock Friday, with first time at 4 p.m. . . . Santa Anita will present Maestro Victor Vener and his California Philharmonic performing your favorite music in Santa Anita’s Infield Meadow on Saturday, June 27. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for dining and live jazz. There will be a post-concert reception after the show. For tickets, call 626 304-0333 or visit calphil.com . . . Grade I winner Warren’s Veneda came out of her second to Beholder in the Adoration Stakes in good order, but Craig Lewis is undecided on the mare’s next race. “We might have considered the Gold Cup (June 27 against males),” the trainer said, “but once I read the conditions, it would be silly to run against colts and give them weight. If it was a handicap, we’d be getting weight, so I can’t go.” . . . Congrats to Daily Racing Form selector Chuck Kuehhas for tabbing longshots Aotearoa ($21.80) and Head South ($35.20) on top at Santa Anita Sunday. They helped trigger a Pick Six carryover into Thursday of $113,444.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, June 14)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||106||13||12||11||12%||$598,438|