Eight Rings takes gold in American Pharoah
A beaten odds-on favorite in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) on Labor Day when losing his rider soon after the start, Eight Rings and jockey John Velazquez stuck together throughout the 1 1/16-mile journey, perhaps cementing favoritism for the November 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) over the same track and distance.
A 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby series race, the American Pharoah awarded qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers. Eight Rings is now tied for first with Iroquois (G3) winner Dennis’ Moment with 10 points. The two are scheduled to face each other in the Juvenile.
Sporting blinkers for the first time, Eight Rings was hustled to the front by Velazquez and set fractions of :23.72, :47.06, and 1:11.71. He finished six lengths ahead of American Theorem.
“I wanted to put him into the race, and that way he could get his mind on running,” Velazquez said. “I was pretty comfortable with the way he was moving in the backstretch. But he kept kind of wandering, so I felt like I had to keep reminding him to focus. It’s only his second start, so he’s still learning basically.”
The final time was 1:45.41 over a fast track with Eight Rings paying $4.40 as the 6-5 choice. Storm the Court and Express Train finished a distant third and fourth, respectively.
Owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables, Eight Rings is trained by Bob Baffert. Baffert and Velazquez also teamed up to win the Chandelier (G1) with Bast earlier in the card.
Prior to the Del Mar Futurity fiasco, Eight Rings had crushed maiden special weight foes by 6 1/4 lengths at Del Mar going 5 1/2 furlongs. He’s now earned $216,951.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and a $250,000 Keeneland September purchase, Eight Rings is by Empire Maker and out of Canadian Grade 3 winner Purely Hot, by Pure Prize.
Road to the Kentucky Oaks: Bast is best in Chandelier Stakes
Bast (c) Benoit Photo
The daughter of Uncle Mo was favored at 1-5 off a dominant triumph in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) at Del Mar four weeks ago, where she scored by 8 3/4 lengths. Transitioning to the slower track at Santa Anita – and simultaneously stretching out from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles – figured to provide Bast with a stiff test of her abilities.
Indeed, the Chandelier was a much tougher challenge. After breaking slowly under jockey John Velazquez, Bast recovered to press Schuylerville Stakes (G3) winner Comical through fractions of :24.92, :49.54 and 1:13.98 while racing three-wide.
At the top of the stretch, Bast confronted Comical, but the pacesetter refused to give way without a fight. The two fillies matched strides down the lane and appeared to brush at times, but Bast always held a slight advantage and dug deep to win by a neck in 1:46.10 seconds. K P Dreamin, Been Studying Her, and Buyer’s Remorse rounded out the order of finish, while Leucothea unseated her rider at the start.
“This means a lot,” said Velazquez. The victory was his 661st in a graded race, breaking the record of 660 set by fellow Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey. “(Bailey) is a guy who I rode with for so many years and have looked up to for so long. It’s incredible.
“Going to the backstretch, (Bast) looked really good, and I was pretty confident. We got to the turn and I thought we might go a little wide, but I said ‘No, no – you have to stay there.’ I got up to her and she cruised down the lane and put her head out in front of the other horse. She gave me a lot today. I felt she gave me what she could to win the race.”
By winning the Chandelier, Bast secured a “Win & You’re In” berth to the November 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita, where a victory would almost assuredly clinch her an Eclipse Award as the champion two-year-old filly of 2019. In addition, the Chandelier is part of the 2019-20 Road to the Kentucky Oaks, and Bast’s triumph moved her to the top of the early leaderboard with 10 qualification point.
“I thought, wow, man, she’s really going to have to fight for this, but if she’s a really good filly, like I think she is, she’ll get through it, and she got that last eighth of a mile. It just shows you how competitive these horses are,” said Baffert. “I had gone a little light on her (training) so I just told John she’s not going to be as tight…I felt there’d be a little room for error, but there wasn’t much room at all.”
Baffert confirmed the Breeders’ Cup would be next for Bast, who is owned by Baoma Corp. Bred by BlackRidge Stables LLC, Bast was purchased for $500,000 as a yearling.
Road to the Kentucky Oaks: Bast is best in Chandelier Stakes
Heavy going at the Curragh on Sunday prompted Aidan O’Brien to withdraw two of his entrants from the Beresford (G2), but his odds-on favorite, Innisfree, was all he needed to register an amazing 19th victory (and ninth straight) in the juvenile feature. O’Brien was also sweeping the first two scoring races on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, after Royal Dornoch upset Saturday’s Royal Lodge (G2).
Not that it was easy for Innisfree. Familiar foe Shekhem, who went down by just a neck in their pitched battle in a Galway maiden, again forced him to pull out all the stops. Unlike that occasion when Innisfree set the pace, Shekhem took the initiative here and nearly went wire to wire.
Innisfree settled in second, several lengths back, and smoothly drew nearer in the stretch. But Shekhem lifted as well, responded to the favorite’s challenge, and desperately tried to keep a narrow advantage. Under Donnacha O’Brien, the trainer’s son, Innisfree wore Shekhem down in the final yards.
The margin was the same as at Galway – a neck – despite the different course, tactics, distance (a mile versus seven furlongs), and state of the ground. As a barometer of how much rain had soaked into the turf, Innisfree needed 1:50.06 to slog through the mile.
The remaining three contenders didn’t change their order in running. Gold Maze raced in third, briefly bid to get closer to the top two in the stretch, but retreated 3 3/4 lengths behind Shekhem. Fourth-placer Camorra trudged home another 6 1/2 lengths back, and Silvertown trailed throughout. O’Brien’s two withdrawals, Cormorant and Royal County Down, are worth watching.
Innisfree banked 10 points to join stablemate Royal Dornoch at the head of the European leaderboard. The second through fourth in the Beresford – Shekhem, Gold Maze, and Camorra – earned 4 points, 2, and 1 respectively.
Innisfree’s pedigree makes him far likelier to pursue the European classics. Bred by O’Brien’s Whisperview Trading, and co-owned by his wife, Anne Marie, in partnership with the Coolmore principals, the dark bay colt is by supersire Galileo. His dam, the Group 3-placed stakes winner Palace by Fastnet Rock, is a half-sister to French classic-placed Furners Green; Lady Lupus, third in the 2010 Irish Oaks (G1); and Mystical Lady, the dam of Kingfisher, runner-up in the 2014 Irish Derby (G1) and 2015 Gold Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot.
fonte : https://www.kentuckyderby.com