Nine Go in American Pharoah in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Prep

santa anita

The Santa Anita meeting kicks off Friday with a pair of Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races. (Photo credit: © Cheryl Quigley |

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sends out the 9-5 morning line favorite Eight Rings in Friday’s $300,000 American Pharoah (G1) with a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) up for grabs.

The American Pharoah is named after Baffert’s Triple Crown winner and is one of two “Win and You’re In” races on opening day of the fall Santa Anita meeting.

The winner of the $300,000 Chandelier (G1) earns a fee-expenses paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

Eight Rings was sent out as the betting favorite in the De Mar Futurity (G1) on Sept 2, but the colt ducked in after getting bumped and dropped jockey Drayden Van Dyke. The jockey was injured in the spill but is expected to return to the saddle this meeting.

John Velazquez gets the call on the son of Empire Maker on Friday. “I’m flying Johnny V. in to ride because I wasn’t sure Drayden would make it back in time to ride my horses,” Baffert said.

Baffert has won the American Pharoah (previously named the Norfolk and the Frontrunner) a record eight times including last year with Game Winner.

Del Mar Futurity Replay

American Theorem (5-1) is a son of the Triple Crown winner and will break from the rail in his second career start. The ridging broke his maiden going 5 ½ furlongs in his debut effort.

“He won impressively first time out,” trainer George Papaprodromou said. “He sat behind a wall of horses and made a nice move on the turn and went by them.”

The Chandelier drew a field of six led by the Baffert trained Bast (3-5), who won the Del Mar Debutante (G1) by 8 ¾ lengths in his last outing on Aug. 31.

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Between Friday and Sunday there are seven Breeders’ Cup Challenge races to be decided in the U.S., five at Santa Anita and two at Belmont Park.  In addition, there are three overseas, two at Newmarket and one at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan.

Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Friday’s featured race of the day:

Santa Anita

Santa Anita Race 8 The American Pharoah (G1) Post time 4:40 PT

1 American Theorem   5-1

3 Eight Rings   9-5

4 Express Train   4-1

9 Collusion Illusion   5-1


American Theorem

The son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was a smart looking maiden winner in his debut going 5 ½ furlongs at Del Mar. The ridgling stalked the early pace, had to wait behind foes on the far turn, angled toward the outside and finished up well under a hand ride while drifting in slightly in the stretch to win by 1 ½ lengths. The blinkers come off here as he stretches out to a route. He has plenty of pedigree to handle two turns, out of a Maria’s Mon mare that has dropped five other winners and three are stakes winners, top earner Cyclogenesis ($198,750). The Papaprodromou barn is 19% winners moving runners from sprint to route. His guy acted professionally in his debut and should only get better on the stretch out.

Eight Rings

This colt earned a solid number breaking his maiden in his debut by 6 ¼ lengths and was sent off as the chalk in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) last out. The colt was in between foes, got bumped, ducked out badly and lost the jock. He returns with blinkers added for Baffert who has won this race eight times including last year with Game Winner. The $520,000 Keeneland purchase is by Empire Maker out of the stakes winner Purely Hot ($426,905). He is bred to go long and the trainer is 32% winners moving runners from sprint to route. Johnny V. gets the call with the main knock the likely short price.

Express Train

He was no match for Eight Rings in his debut in a runner up finish and came back with a big effort second out, breaking his maiden at Del Mar going a mile by 14 ¼ lengths. The Shirreffs trainee is the lone runner in the field that has gone two turns. The $500,000 Keeneland purchase is by Union Rags out of a Mineshaft mare that has dropped two other winners. Shirreffs won this race in 2016 with Gormley. Smith sticks on this colt who should get a good tracking trip behind what likely will be an honest early pace.


WIN: American Theorem to win at 7-2 or better.

EXACTA: 1,3 / 1,3,4,9

TRIFECTA: 1,3 / 1,3,4,9 / 1,3,4,6,9


NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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