Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah is a maiden no more after an incredible performance in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (G1), winning by 4 ¾- lengths in near track-record time.
The 2-year-old Pioneerof the Nile colt continues a white-hot streak for his sire, who has had three graded stakes winners in the past four days and sits clearly atop the Second-Crop sire list with six stakes winners, five Graded stakes winners, and more than $2.8 million in progeny earnings.
Trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah was fifth in his maiden special weight debut Aug. 9, also at Del Mar, but still had plenty of backing for Wednesday’s seven furlong Futurity following a pair of very good workouts.
Breaking from the rail, American Pharoah got hustled away from the gate by Victor Espinoza and made the lead after a sixteenth of a mile. The Pioneerof the Nile colt laid down some solid fractions of :45.23 for the half and 1:08.95 for the six furlongs, and still was widening at the wire despite Espinoza easing up in the final 50 yards.
The final time of 1:21.48 was just 3/5ths of a second off the track record, and .19 off the stakes record set by Champion Declan's Moon. And he was awarded a 101 Beyer Speed Figure, highest for any two-year-old on any surface this year.
After Wednesday's win, Baffert reflected on the disappointing debut and the changes he made in preparation for the Futurity.
“He acted up that day, was rank coming out of the paddock, and ran off,” Baffert said by telephone (assistant trainer Jim Barnes handled the saddling duties). “We took the blinkers off, and I put cotton in his ears, and he came back and worked really, really nice. We decided to take a shot at it. I haven’t done it much, but this is the first time I’ve won a race putting cotton in a horse’s ears.”
American Pharoah picked up $180,000 for the win and becomes the West Coast’s leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The bay is the second foal out of the Yankee Gentleman mare Littleprincessemma, who is a half-sister to Old Hat S. (G3) winner Misty Rosette and Grade 2 Laz Barrera S. winner Storm Wolf.