October 24, 2021

Breeders’ Cup preps dominate Santa Anita fall opener

Grace Adler romps in the Del Mar Debutante (Benoit Photo)

The opening day of Santa Anita’s fall meet on Friday will feature three Breeders’ Cup Challenge preps for two-year-olds, as well as a potentially key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

American Pharoah (G1) — Race 8 (7:30 p.m. ET)

Corniche, who earned a stellar 99 Brisnet Speed rating for his 4 1/4-length debut win at Del Mar on Sept. 4, is one of three Bob Baffert trainees in the $300,000 American Pharoah S. (G1) over 1 1/16 miles. The American Pharoah winner will earn an automatic bid to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 5.

A son of Quality Road, Corniche showed blazing speed from the gate to win over 5 1/2 furlongs, but obviously will have to harness some of that speed on Friday to get the distance. He’ll be joined by stablemates Rockefeller, who won on debut by 2 1/4 lengths over six furlongs at Del Mar, and Flying Drummer, a son of Gun Runner whose run second in both outings to date.

The latter of Flying Drummer’s seconds was to Oviatt Class, who graduated in his third start and first around two turns, but 4 1/4 lengths. The son of Bernardini is trained by Keith Desormeaux.

The remainder of the field all have stakes experience. Finneus enters off back-to-back seconds in the Best Pal (G2) and Del Mar Futurity (G1), while Pappacap exits a fourth in the Futurity following his 4 3/4-length score in the Best Pal. Joker Boy is undefeated in two starts, including the I’m Smokin S. for California-breds.

Chandelier S. (G2) — Race 6 (6:30 p.m. ET)

Baffert also has a pair of two-year-old fillies in the $200,000 Chandelier S. (G2), a 1 1/16-mile lead-in to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The more likely of the two to contend, Grace Adler, romped by more than 11 lengths in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) over Dance to the Music last out.

Another who will take action is Electric Ride, who crushed maiden rivals by more than eight lengths in her debut for John Sadler on Aug. 28. Another intriguing first-out graduate, Ain’t Easy, is one of three Chandelier runners that will be saddled by Phil D’Amato. The others Desert Dawn, who won her second start going a mile, and Elm Drive, the Sorrento (G2) winner who stopped badly after setting a hot, contested pace in the Del Mar Debutante.

The American Pharoah and Chandelier are also point-scoring races for the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively, though any currently trained by Bob Baffert are ineligible to earn any on Friday as the Hall of Famer is suspended from participating in either race next year. Points will be allocated to any horses that finish in the top four on a 10-4-2-1 basis.

Speakeasy S. — Race 5 (6:00 p.m. ET)

Seven juveniles were entered in the $100,000 Speakeasy S., a five-furlong Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep to the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). The Wesley Ward-trained stakes winner Miss Alacrity, one of two fillies in the field, will take on One Timer, who’s dominated in both appearances on synthetic for trainer Larry Rivelli.

Forbidden Kingdom, who won on debut over the main track at Del Mar for Richard Mandella, will merit a look, as well as the Peter Miller pair Time to Party and Anmer Hall, both of whom broke their maidens over the grass going five panels.

Eddie D. S. (G2) — (Race 7:00 p.m. ET)

About 6 1/2-furlong sprints on Santa Anita’s famed hillside turf course will resume this fall after an absence of more two years, beginning with the $200,000 Eddie D. S. (G2) for older horses.

Lieutenant Dan, impressive winner of the Green Flash H. (G3) at Del Mar last time over Gregorian Chant, looms as potentially the one to beat, though Caribou Club has graded winning experience over the unique layout from several seasons ago.

The popular Snapper Sinclair invades from Kentucky for Steve Asmussen, while San Francisco Mile (G3) winner Whisper Not shortens up for Richard Baltas. Graded scorers Chaos Theory, Law Abidin Citizen, and Charmaine’s Mia also line up.