American Pharoah Stakes Recap

The first running of the newly renamed American Pharoah Stakes (G1), formerly the FrontRunner Stakes, was won by Game Winner and American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert. The recent two-time Triple Crown winning trainer now has another top two-year-old to watch in his barn.

Game Winner won his third consecutive race Saturday at Santa Anita, getting a perfect trip with jockey Joel Rosario aboard. Game Winner set up running position on the outside of leader Rowayton and then took over at the top of the stretch on his way to win with a finish of 4 ¼ lengths over Gunmetal Gray. Rowayton finished 3rd in the five horse field.

“It was sort of weird to see all the horses saying American Pharoah on their towels,” Baffert said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s exciting the race was named after him. It was really nice of Santa Anita to do that. It’s great to win it the first time and hopefully for the next 10 years.”

Game Winner paid $2.60 to win and covered 1 116 miles in 1:43.77.

The victory was worth 10 qualifying points for Game Winner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, as the race awarded 10-4-2-1 points to the top 4 finishers. The buildup towards the Kentucky Derby and another top horse for Bob Baffert will be on display Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs when Game Winner runs in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile.

Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Equine out of the A.P. Indy mare Indyan Giving, Game Winner was sired by Candy Ride and now has $396,000 in earnings from his three wins, which includes the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in early September. He was a $110,000 purchase by agent Ben Glass from the Lane’s End consignment to the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Game Winner is owned by Gary and May West.

Originated in 1970 as the Norfolk Stakes, the race became the FrontRunner Stakes in 2012 before being renamed the American Pharoah Stakes. Baffert has now trained the winning horse a record eight times in the race.

The American Pharoah was one of four Grade 1 stakes on Saturday, Sept. 29 culminating with the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes, the final California prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which was won by Accelerate.

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