With stable star Justify officially retired on Wednesday, his connections’ attention can now turn to earning additional Eclipse Awards with others. On Saturday, American Anthem will attempt to beef up his championship credentials in the male sprint division in the $300,000 Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar, a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for the TwinSpires.com Sprint (G1).
American Anthem shares three-fourths of the partnership — WinStar Farm, China Racing Club, and Head of Plains Partners — that campaigned Triple Crown winner Justify, who is assured champion three-year-old colt honors and probably Horse of the Year. Like that undefeated star, American Anthem is also trained by Bob Baffert and will be ridden by Mike Smith.
American Anthem has won both starts as the odds-on favorite this year, though his last out score in the San Carlos (G2) was only by a head over St. Joe Bay, who had descended into the claiming ranks this spring after multiple graded wins during the winter of 2016-17.
The one to beat in the Bing Crosby is reigning divisional champion Roy H, who was a troubled second in the Bing Crosby last year but went on to register Grade 1 wins in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship and Breeders’ Cup Sprint. After a season-opening romp in the Palos Verdes (G2), Roy H rallied for third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) when last seen on March 31.
Making a belated season debut in the Bing Crosby is American Pastime, a solid fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar last fall in only his second stakes appearance. He had preceded that effort with a second-level allowance win over this track and a sharp second in the Gallant Bob (G3) at Parx.
Ransom the Moon, the 2017 Bing Crosby winner, has run out of the money in three of four subsequent starts, and shortens up a quarter-mile here after running fifth in the Metropolitan H. (G1). Edwards Going Left was a dynamite winner of the California Cup Sprint two back and placed behind City of Light in the Malibu (G1) and Triple Bend (G1) in two of his last three starts.
Invading from the east is Stallwalkin’ Dude, whose last stakes win came in the Fall Highweight H. (G3) at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving Day.