Three years after American Pharoah lost his career debut at Del Mar and came right back to win second time out at the seaside, his full brother St Patrick’s Day can make a similar claim by breaking his maiden in Del Mar’s 8TH race on Saturday.
Although both hail from the barn of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, the comparisons pretty much end there. Zayat Stables’ homebred American Pharoah, a disappointing fifth as the 7-5 favorite in his premiere, nevertheless advanced to the 2014 Del Mar Futurity (G1) where he ran off the screen, and the rest is history.
Later that fall, their dam, Littleprincessemma, was sold back in foal to Pioneerof the Nile for $2.1 million at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November. Her baby in utero was St Patrick’s Day, who was accordingly bred by the buyer Summer Wind Farm. Originally named “Irish Pharoah,” he was rechristened after he was privately purchased as a yearling.
Sporting the silks of Coolmore’s Mrs. John Magnier in his August 20 debut, St Patrick’s Day went off as the slight third choice at 2-1. The late money poured in on stablemate Zatter, owned by Zayat Stables. The pair dueled until Zatter forged ahead, but St Patrick’s Day was an encouraging second, especially considering he’d been vying on the inside – a tough spot for a firster.
Unlike American Pharoah, St Patrick’s Day didn’t get thrown into the Del Mar Futurity. Instead, he wheeled back versus fellow maidens on Saturday, and was bet to 4-5 favoritism with a returning Flavien Prat.
St Patrick’s Day again found himself on the inside, this time drawn right on the rail, and once more he argued early. Putting away his pace rivals through testing fractions of :21.97 and :44.92, he tried to edge clear in midstretch. But Instilled Regard, the 3-1 second choice, was gaining late. St Patrick’s Day looked “desperate,” as track announcer Trevor Denman phrased it, yet he continued to respond to Prat’s urgings and reached the wire a half-length in front. St Patrick’s Day was slowing through the final sixteenth, finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.81.
St Patrick’s Day gave a timely form boost to Zatter, who will contest Monday’s Del Mar Futurity as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
Now with his maiden score out of the way, St Patrick’s Day is likely stakes-bound himself. The Blood-Horse’s Jeremy Balan reports that the September 30 FrontRunner (G1), a 1 1/16-mile “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), is the probable target.
American Pharoah captured the FrontRunner, but missed the Breeders’ Cup due to injury. Better than ever upon his return in 2015, he snapped the 37-year Triple Crown drought and crowned his Horse of the Year campaign in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). American Pharoah retired to stud at Ashford near Versailles, Kentucky, the North American arm of the global Coolmore empire.
It’s unrealistic to expect St Patrick’s Day to be an historic champion like his older brother. He’ll do well if he compiles a better resume than their full sister, American Cleopatra, who won here on debut last summer but has disappointed since her second in the Del Mar Debutante (G1).
“He’s different than his brother,” Baffert told Del Mar publicity. “He’s a little more laid back. But he’s a good horse.”