Saturday’s stakes offerings at Santa Anita include a pair of events for two-year-olds, $300,000 American Pharoah (G1) and $200,000 Chandelier (G1) for fillies. As well as being part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, the 1 1/16-mile races serve as Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1) qualifiers.
The 10-race program also features the $300,000 Rodeo Drive (G2) for Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf prospects.
Be You has not broken sharply in a pair of starts, recording a nose second in a maiden special weight and a fourth in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, and the Todd Pletcher-trained colt will seek his first career victory against seven rivals in the American Pharoah. Umberto Rispoli picks up the mount on the chestnut son of Curlin in the “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 3.
Qualifying points for the 2024 Kentucky Derby will be offered on a 10-5-3-2-1 scale to the top five finishers, and Next Level rates as a contender for Keith Desormeaux following a third in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). Raging Torrent, fourth in the Del Mar Futurity and third in the Best Pal (G3), will add blinkers for Doug O’Neill.
Wine Me Up, a son of freshman sire Vino Rosso who led all the way in his Sept. 2 career bow at Del Mar, will stretch to two turns for Bob Baffert, who will also send out Best Pal runner-up Muth.
Ten fillies will compete for an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Kentucky Oaks qualifying points in the Chandelier. Tamara, the likely Juvenile Fillies favorite after winning the Del Mar Debutante (G1), will skip the race, but the next three finishers – Laurent, Gate to Paradise, and Chatalas – will all return.
Debut winner Dua, third in the Sorrento, is a contender for Baffert. Autumn Chill merits respect for Desormeaux following a 4 1/4-length victory over maiden foes in her first two-turn start.
In the Rodeo Drive, Anisette will make her first stakes attempt against elders in the 1 1/4-mile turf affair. The English import is unbeaten from three starts stateside, establishing herself as arguably the top American three-year-old turf filly recording convincing wins in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and San Clemente (G2), and Rispoli has the call on the powerful closer for Leonard Powell.
Anisette will meet seven challengers, including John C. Mabee (G2) and Yellow Ribbon (G2) winner Closing Remarks. The five-year-old mare has thrived since returning from a freshening this summer, but Closing Remarks will lose the services of Rispoli. Juan Hernandez takes over for Carla Gaines.
Grade 3 winner Didia, last seen recording a fast-closing second in the New York (G1) in mid-June, ships in for Nacho Correas. Regular rider Vincent Cheminaud accompanies the classy five-year-old mare. Stakes winner Juncture, a closing fourth in the Ellis Park Turf most recently, has shipped in for Brad Cox.
The $100,000 Speakeasy S., a five-furlong test for two-year-olds, serves as a feeder for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) on Nov. 3, and last-out turf maiden winners Charge for Gold, Dark Vintage, and Mysticism are among the draws in the 10-horse field.
Slider, a smart three-length maiden winner at odds-on on Sept. 9, is another runner of interest. Runner-up to Heartland in his career debut, the John Sadler-trained colt will look to transfer his talents to turf following a smart three-length maiden score at odds-on.