American Pharoah Preview: Camera-Shy Spielberg Steps Up
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of Curtis Kalleward of the Racing Dudes
ARCADIA, CA - Though still a maiden, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Spielberg steps back up to the top level of racing for Saturday’s $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
The winner of the American Pharoah will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup TVG Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The American Pharoah is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to 2-year-olds. The 2020 edition attracted number.
Let’s look at the full field:
#1 Touchdown Brown – He defeated fellow California-breds on debut in June, crossing over 5 lengths clear in a local 4 1/2-furlong dash. He finished a determined second in the I’m Smokin Stakes while up against a poor pace setup last time out, but this is a much more difficult ask than what he’s faced in the past.
#2 Rombauer – He’ll give dirt a try after racing twice (and winning once) on the Del Mar turf, but his sire Twirling Candy won the 2010 Malibu Stakes (G1) on the local dirt and is known for producing strong runners on any surface. He picks up the riding services of Hall of Famer Mike Smith, whose lone victory in this race came in 2010 aboard Jaycito.
#3 Dyn O Mite – He began his career with a trio of runner-up efforts here, at Los Alamitos, and at Del Mar before his connections sent him to the Del Mar Futurity (G1), where he finished fifth. His sire Goldencents won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in 2013 and 2014, but he still faces the tough task of breaking his maiden against horses who have already defeated him.
#4 Notable Exception – The Calumet Farm homebred makes his first dirt start here after breaking his maiden on debut in a 7-furlong event over the Arlington Park synthetic main track on September 4. The surface change should be of no question; his sire, Street Sense, won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1).
#5 Spielberg – The good news for this maiden is that after finishing second to the same horse - Dr. Schivel - in both prior starts (including the Del Mar Futurity), that rival is nowhere to be found here. Spielberg’s connections paid $1 million for him as a yearling last September and have high hopes that he gives Baffert his third straight (and 10th overall) in this event.
#6 Get Her Number – He broke his maiden on debut in a 5-furlong dash across the lawn, then lost by just a length in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes. The Dialed In colt has already outperformed his modest purchase price ($45k) but must deal with a new surface while stepping up to the graded stakes level for the first time.
#7 Weston – The son of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) champion Hit It a Bomb became his freshman sire’s first North American graded stakes winner when he took home the Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar in early August. He was most recently third in the Del Mar Futurity after pressing the issue with the top two finishers and could be forwardly-placed early again here.
#8 Waspirant – He broke his maiden at second asking in a 1-mile route at Del Mar, making him the only runner in the field with a two-turn dirt victory on his resume. Trainer John Shirreffs won this race in 2016 with Gormley, who was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile later that year and eventually won the 2017 Santa Anita Derby (G1).
The American Pharoah serves as race 8 and is one of seven stakes on the Saturday card at Santa Anita Park. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue Sunday at Santa Anita Park with the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Sprint) and the Zenyatta (Longines Distaff).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.
For more coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, head over to racingdudes.com.
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