Gary Young has been on American Pharoah’s bandwagon from the get-go, and

with a Triple Crown in close proximity, the private clocker isn’t about to bail out now.

He knows it won’t be easy, however. There have been 13 horses that attempted to capture racing’s most elusive prize since Affirmed was the last to do it in 1978. All have failed.

There are reasons, be they legitimate or theoretical.

“This is going to be Pharoah’s fourth race in eight weeks and it’s going to be a mile and a half,” said Young, a keen and respected observer of the Thoroughbred for 35 years.

“If they’re ever going to beat him, it’s going to be this race. I think he’s the best horse in this crop by more than a little bit, and I think he’s the best horse I’ve seen in a while. Obviously, I’ve been on record as saying that.

“He’s still got to prove that, but as far as horses going through the Triple Crown, I think he’s the best I’ve seen in some time.

“Looking at the race, he’s going to be in front. The big question is which one of the main contenders is going to be the first one to go after him? Do you want to be the first one to take him on? You’d rather be the second or third after someone else has softened him up.

“I respect Materiality, I respect Keen Ice. If you watch Keen Ice’s race in the (Kentucky) Derby, when everyone else was shoving for all they were worth at the three-eighths pole, he was passing horses under a pull and he had to steady for more than an eighth of a mile (eventually finishing seventh, beaten nine lengths by American Pharoah, who won by a length). I respect those horses, but I think Pharoah’s the best horse.”

That said, should Pharoah do it, would it give racing a welcome bump?

“Would it help? Yeah,” Young opined. “But there is still going to be trouble filling entries and there’s still going to be in-fighting among different factions in racing.

“There have been 13 horses that have attempted to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, and there were people in the business who questioned whether they were worthy of winning it.

“As far as talent, I don’t think anyone really questions whether American Pharoah is worthy of being a Triple Crown winner.

“Is he going to do it? I happen to think he will. I acknowledge that (winning) four races in eight weeks is not an easy thing, and a mile and a half has become an antiquated distance on the main track, but if he breaks and makes the lead and relaxes like I think he will, when they go after him and try to tackle him at the half-mile pole, they better be tied on.”



Fanticola missed by a desperate nose in the Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on turf April 18 under Joe Talamo, who has been aboard the Silent Name mare in all but two of her 15 career races, winning four.

Leading trainer Phil D’Amato expects another solid effort in today’s Grade I Gamely Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf, discounting that the shorter distance might be beneficial.

“She is doing as good as ever,” D’Amato said. “I really think she likes this turf course. Joe knows there’s a little new dimension with her and I think we’re going to take it to them.”


            After rallying to finish fourth behind Shared Belief in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 7 in his first start for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, Hard Aces disappointed when shipped to Arkansas for the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap on April 11, finishing sixth in a field of nine, beaten nearly 13 lengths.

Sadler expects an improved performance from the 5-year-old Hard Spun horse when he runs in The Californian on Saturday, a Grade II race at 1 1/8 miles that is a forerunner to the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27.

            “He came out of the Oaklawn race a little bit distressed,” Sadler said. “He wasn’t breathing right afterward. He had like an electrolyte imbalance, so it was disappointing to go there and not run better than that.

“But he’s been training forwardly since he came home and we’re looking forward to getting a good race in him. Victor (Espinoza) will ride him back and we are adding blinkers.”

Previously trained by Larry Jones, Hard Aces has a 5-3-6 record from 21 starts with earnings of $268,145.


FINISH LINES: Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Tuesday through Thursday and return with live racing Friday at 4 p.m. There will be simulcast racing Thursday, May 28, with free parking and free General Admission . . .Santa Anita Park extends condolences to the family of former trainer and racing manager Richard Mulhall, who passed away following a lengthy illness this morning at his home in Monrovia at age 76. Mulhall is survived by his son Michael and daughter, trainer Kristin Mulhall. Services are pending . . . Mike Smith and Elvis Trujillo will be 17 miles east of Harrisburg at Penn National in Grantville, Pa., Saturday for stakes engagements. Smith rides Delta Jackpot winner Ocho Ocho Ocho in the $500,000, Grade III Penn Mile on turf and Prize Exhibit in the $150,000 Penn Oaks at a mile on grass, both for trainer Jim Cassidy. Trujillo pilots La Puente Stakes winner Papacoolpapacool for Phil D’Amato in the Penn Mile . . . Reminder to horsemen: Barretts two-year-old training preview will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 26, at Del Mar, with the sale on Thursday, May 28, at 1 p.m. . . . Santa Anita will host a book signing of John Perrotta‘s new publication, “Racetracker,” from 12 noon to 2 p.m. across from Champions! Gift Shop on Belmont Stakes Day, June 6. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.


(Current Through Sunday, May 24)          
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won  
Tyler Baze 108 20 13 20 19% $1,016,890  
Rafael Bejarano 84 18 17 15 21% $865,922  
Flavien Prat 68 15 15 3 22% $895,700  
Joseph Talamo 75 14 3 16 19% $471,258  
Fernando Perez 72 12 10 9 17% $461,690  
Edwin Maldonado 58 7 12 9 12% $276,700  
Felipe Valdez 68 7 10 5 10% $291,480  
Drayden Van Dyke 53 7 6 5 13% $332,338  
Tiago Pereira 31 6 7 4 19% $270,670  
Martin Garcia 24 6 3 3 25% $156,710  
Gonzalo Nicolas 66 5 6 12 8% $201,858  
Mike Smith 25 5 6 2 20% $495,690  
Elvis Trujillo 55 5 4 7 9% $262,790  
Santiago Gonzalez 55 4 12 4 7% $241,686  
Martin Pedroza 61 4 10 7 7% $235,714  
Kent Desormeaux 40 4 5 4 10% $205,590  
Alex Solis 20 4 3 3 20% $194,080  
Victor Espinoza 18 4 2 3 22% $188,350  
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won  
Philip D’Amato 35 12 4 4 34% $610,250  
Doug O’Neill 57 10 12 6 18% $468,748  
Peter Miller 44 10 11 2 23% $373,710  
Richard Baltas 31 10 3 2 32% $418,270  
Richard Mandella 23 6 6 2 26% $476,470  
Eddie Truman 12 6 1 1 50% $220,150  
John Sadler 38 5 7 5 13% $217,278  
Bob Baffert 18 5 2 4 28% $212,950  
Jerry Hollendorfer 40 4 9 5 10% $336,534  
Mike Puype 35 4 7 6 11% $333,530  
Mark Glatt 31 4 5 5 13% $204,494  
Vann Belvoir 27 3 5 4 11% $124,390  
Michael Machowsky 16 3 4 2 19% $109,520  
Peter Eurton 24 3 2 5 13% $213,296  
Robertino Diodoro 18 3 2 3 17% $109,990  
William Spawr 16 3 2 2 19% $89,840  
Dan Hendricks 10 3 2 0 30% $110,140  
Ricky Agarie 12 3 1 3 25% $110,720  
Bruce Headley 10 3 1 0 30% $76,450