- MOVE OVER LETTERMAN: PHAROAH’S TOP 10 REASONS
- CLOCKER SAYS IT’S ALL ‘AMERICAN’ IN TRIPLE CROWN
- OM RETURNS TO MAIN TRACK FOR SUNDAY’S AFFIRMED
- BEHOLDER WORKS EASY MILE FOR ADORATION STAKES
WHITE HAS 10 REASONS ‘PHAROAH’ WILL WIN
In the Louisville Courier-Journal’s special Kentucky Derby section, Santa Anita morning line maker Jon White stated that American Pharoah “reminds me of Seattle Slew.” Additionally, he said, “I think American Pharoah is so talented that he just might sweep the Triple Crown.”
And now, following victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, American Pharoah finds himself on the brink of possible Triple Crown immortality in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. White, who in addition to Santa Anita’s morning line, makes selections for the track’s official program, has come up with 10 reasons why he believes American Pharoah will win the Belmont to complete the first Triple Crown sweep since Affirmed achieved the rare feat 37 years ago.
“No. 1: Of the seven horses entered against American Pharoah in the Belmont,” White said, “he already has defeated each by 3 ¼ lengths or more.
“No. 2: Two of his three main threats, Firing Line and Dortmund, who finished two-three in the Kentucky Derby, are not running in the Belmont.
“No. 3: He was the 2-year-old male champion. Six of the last seven horses to sweep the Triple Crown had been voted 2-year-old male champion. American Pharoah is the first 2-year-old male champion to try for a Triple Crown in the Belmont since Spectacular Bid in 1979.
“No. 4: His dominance. When Seattle Slew went into the Belmont with an eight-for-eight record, his average margin of victory was 4.71 lengths. American Pharoah goes into the Belmont with an average margin of victory of 5.04 lengths in his current six-race winning streak.
“No. 5: He’s six for six when ridden by Victor Espinoza.
“No. 6: He’s six for six when racing without blinkers.
“No. 7: He’s five for five on dirt.
“No. 8: He’s five for five when racing around two turns.
“No. 9: His trainer, Bob Baffert, knows how to win the Belmont. Baffert sent out Point Given to win the 2001 Belmont by 12 ¼ lengths. Baffert also has had three horses run well enough in the Belmont to finish second–Silver Charm (who came within three-quarters of a length of a Triple Crown sweep in 1997), Real Quiet (who came within a nose of a Triple Crown sweep in 1998) and Paynter (who lost by a neck in 2012).
“No. 10: He can be rated if necessary. While most of American Pharoah’s wins have come in front-running fashion, he showed in both the Rebel at Oaklawn Park and in the Kentucky Derby that he can sit off the early pace and win. His versatility in terms of being able to go wire-to-wire or rate kindly and come from off the pace helps make him all the more difficult to beat in the Belmont.”
Fans are encouraged to join in the Belmont Stakes day festivities at Santa Anita Saturday to see if Santa Anita-based American Pharoah can win the Triple Crown.
Santa Anita will celebrate the big day with live racing, an Infield beer festival, live music, a Chandelier Room party, and more. The “American Pharoah” trackside package includes a program, trackside seating with the first drink included and an exclusive American Pharoah cap all for just $20. Visit santaanita.com/events for full details and special promo codes.
CLOCKER SEES TRIPLE CROWN SWEEP
Gary Young has been on American Pharoah’s bandwagon since the Triple Crown races started with the Kentucky Derby on May 2, and with a Triple Crown sweep on the line in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, he’s not about to jump off now.
“Barring anything unforeseen, I think Materiality and Pharaoh will be one-two early on,” Young said. “I don’t know what order they’ll be in. I don’t think the connections of Frosted will want him up there, but they won’t want him that far back, either.
“I loved the way American Pharoah worked when I saw the video on Monday (five furlongs at Churchill Downs in 1:00.20, breezing). I think he’ll win the race. I think Dallas Stewart’s horse (Tale of Verve) is doing well, and I’ve been on the Keen Ice longshot bandwagon since the Derby.
“Frosted and Materiality are the other two logical horses that will maybe give American Pharoah a race, but I think he’ll win.”
OM, WHO DEFEATED ‘PHAROAH,’ RETURNS TO DIRT IN AFFIRMED
Om, who defeated American Pharoah by 9 ¼ lengths when breaking his maiden at Del Mar last Aug. 9, returns to the main track Sunday in the Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. A Kentucky-bred colt by Munnings, Om made an impressive turf debut May 10 at Santa Anita, winning by 2 ¼ lengths while covering a flat mile in 1:35.60.
“The grass was the only two-turn race, timing wise, so we ran there,” said trainer Dan Hendricks, alluding to the race won in front-running fashion.
“We thought he might be a good grass horse, and he might be, but this time of year I wanted to try the dirt and either get another option for him, or go back to the turf if he doesn’t like it,” Hendricks said. “But it’s a good time to try him, before Del Mar.”
Om, owned by K.B. Sareen of Las Vegas, is named for an expression used in a Buddhist prayer or mantra. The chestnut colt blew out three furlongs Thursday in 38.80.
The field for the Affirmed, which goes as race three: Gimma Da Lute, Martin Garcia; Cyrus Alexander, Rafael Bejarano; Cross the Line, Corey Nakatani; Om, Fernando Perez; and Prospect Park, Kent Desormeaux.
FREE XPRESSBET.COM BELMONT SEMINAR TOMORROW
Santa Anita has announced that XpressBet.com will present a free Belmont/Santa Anita handicapping seminar tomorrow, Friday, at 2:30 p.m. in the track’s East Paddock Gardens.
Hosted by top handicappers Jeff Siegel, Aaron Vercruysse and Millie Ball, the seminar will feature a complete analysis of Saturday’s Belmont Stakes as well as a comprehensive look at the Belmont Day card and Santa Anita’s 11-race program on Saturday.
All attendees will receive a free issue of Thoro-Graph Sheets for the Belmont Stakes, and the first 100 fans will get a free American Pharoah hat.
With Santa Anita-based American Pharoah seeking to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, there is tremendous interest in the Belmont Day card and a large crowd is expected at Santa Anita, which will open early Saturday at 8 a.m.
Longtime stalwarts at HRTV, Siegel and Vercruysse are now in the process of developing The Stronach Group’s (TSG) digital efforts, while Ball is currently serving as Santa Anita’s daily simulcast paddock host along with Michelle Yu.
First race post time on Friday is at 4 p.m. Admission gates will open for simulcast wagering at 11 a.m.
FINISH LINES: Programming reminder–Veteran LA radio man Ted Sobel’s recent in-depth interview with Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte is now available in its entirety at TheBeast980.com. Sobel revisits Turcotte’s legendary Triple Crown run with Secretariat and asks the native of Canada to address American Pharoah‘s chances at immortality in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Portions of the interview will be aired on The Beast 980 today, Friday and Saturday . . . Beholder worked a mile in 1:38.60 Thursday under Gary Stevens in preparation for the Grade III, $100,000 Adoration Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on June 13 and a possible meeting with Santa Margarita winner Warren’s Veneda. “It was just a nice maintenance work,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the two-time Eclipse Award winner owned by B. Wayne Hughes. “She’s ready to go for the Adoration.” Trainer Craig Lewis said Warren’s Veneda is scheduled to work Saturday, after which a final decision for the Adoration would be made . . . Trainer Simon Callaghan plans to work Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line a half-mile Friday. It will be the first breeze for the son of Line of David owned by Arnold Zetcher since the Preakness on May 16 . . . Tomorrow marks another 4 o’clock Friday, with post time for the first race at 4 p.m. . . . With Saturday’s first post time of 11:30 a.m., Early Bird wagering at Clockers’ Corner will start at 8 a.m. . . . Through 23 days the races for leading rider and trainer remain tight. Rafael Bejarano and Tyler Baze were in a flat-footed tie for first with 23 wins each, while Richard Baltas had a one-win edge over runners-up Doug O’Neill and Peter Miller, 14-13. Phil D’Amato was next with 12 victories . . . Favorites at Santa Anita this meet are winning well above the national norm of about 33 percent at 38.81 (78 of 201) . . . Daily Racing Form correspondent Steve Andersen will be substitute host Aaron Vercruysse‘s guest Saturday at 10:20 a.m. and owner/breeder/handicapper Jeff Siegel will do honors Sunday at “Quigley’s Corner,” at 11:20 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . 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 Saturday. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. . . She’s On the Line, 8-1 morning line chance trained by Steve Knapp intoday’s fifth race, is definitely Old School. The 2-year-old filly was bred by the University of Kentucky.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, May 31)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||73||9||9||6||12%||$421,842|