Bob Baffert and Flavien Prat teamed up to take the graded dirt stakes on the Big ‘Cap undercard at Santa Anita, courtesy of odds-on favorites As Time Goes By in the $490,000 Beholder Mile (G1) and Cezanne in the $200,500 San Carlos (G2). Both belong to the Coolmore empire, with Cezanne’s co-breeder, St. Elias Stable, also in the partnership.
Beholder Mile (G1)
As Time Goes By played second fiddle in last year’s Beholder Mile, when she was a stakes debutante facing a champion in Swiss Skydiver. In Saturday’s renewal, the blueblood five-year-old was the one to beat, and the 3-10 favorite racked up her third straight victory – and first Grade 1.
After bumping stablemate Varda in the opening strides, and bobbling briefly in reaction, As Time Goes By had smooth sailing the rest of the way. Prat quickly got her back in sync, hustled to the front, and the race was virtually over by the clubhouse turn.
The homebred daughter of American Pharoah and Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady dictated fractions of :22.76, :46.22, and 1:10.60, and she continued to hold sway by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:37.55. The 8.30-1 Miss Bigly was a hard-trying second, seven lengths clear of Varda, and Envoutante trailed throughout. Moonlight d’Oro and Founder’s Day were withdrawn.
“We got the Grade 1!” Baffert enthused. “I talked (the owners) into another year with her. She gets better with age. She is such an exciting and classy mare. She never breaks a sweat. (Prat) was aggressive with her early and put her into the race. I think the longer the better with her.”
As Time Goes By was completing a big-race double for American Pharoah, after Forbidden Kingdom went all the way in the San Felipe (G2). Ironically, Forbidden Kingdom is trained by Richard Mandella, who presented the trophy for the Beholder Mile, honoring a past stable star and likely first-ballot Hall of Famer.
“These Pharoah horses are fast,” Baffert said. “It’s a great day for Pharoah horses. American Pharoah has meant so much to racing.”
As Time Goes By advanced her scorecard to 14-7-3-1, and the dark bay is nearing millionaires’ row with $955,600 in earnings. The Kentucky-bred captured last spring’s Santa Margarita (G2) and Santa Maria (G2), and she regained the winning thread in the Dec. 5 Bayakoa (G3) at Los Alamitos. Her 13 1/2-length conquest of the La Canada (G3) last out indicated that she was entering this test in career form. As Time Goes By joins her half-brothers, champion Will Take Charge and Take Charge Indy, on the Grade 1 podium.
San Carlos (G2)
With the scratch of Brickyard Ride, Cezanne was bet down to 3-5 favoritism, and the sparingly-raced son of Curlin imposed his authority. The five-year-old was sharper from his comeback run, a belated third in the Jan. 29 Palos Verdes (G3), and put himself in the fray early before asserting.
The pace complexion changed in the absence of Brickyard Ride and two other projected speed factors, Cezanne’s stablemate Eight Rings and American Theorem (who opted for the Big Cap). Canadian Pride became the speed on the inside through splits of :22.67 and :45.42. Cezanne chased in tandem with Principe Carlo on his outside flank, and they put away Canadian Pride rounding the far turn.
Although the 16-1 Principe Carlo tried to stick with the favorite through six furlongs in 1:10.47, Cezanne was too powerful. The powerfully-built bay drew 2 1/2 lengths clear while finishing seven furlongs in 1:23.45. Canadian Pride checked in another six lengths astern in third, followed by Wicked Trick, Shooters Shoot (who stumbled at the start), and Phantom Dance.
The $3.65 million topper at Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream Sale in 2019, Cezanne has now bankrolled $267,000 from a 6-4-0-1 line. His prior stakes win came in the Kona Gold (G2) last April, but he wasn’t seen again until the Palos Verdes.
Baffert indicated that Cezanne would stretch out.
“We missed our timing with him. He had a few setbacks; otherwise he would have been in the Big ‘Cap. He’s a good handicap horse. He showed his class. I think he is a mile and quarter horse.
“We’ll keep him going and look toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). I like what I saw today. That last race was a warm-up for him. We wanted to be close up today. (Flavien) Prat is like money right now. He knows what to do.”
Bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and St. Elias Stables in Kentucky, Cezanne is a three-quarter brother to stakes-winning sprinter Counterforce (by Smart Strike) and a half-brother to Group 3 vixen Arabian Hope. Their dam, the Bernardini mare Achieving, is a half to Grade 1 queen Streaming from the immediate family of champion Rags to Riches. Cezanne’s third dam is Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour.