American Pharoah won his second straight Grade 1 race Saturday in the $300,000 FrontRunner S. at Santa Anita Park, putting the 2-year-old Zayat Stables homebred right on target for the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), which also runs at Santa Anita.
Known as the Norfolk S. until 2012, Bob Baffert has now won a record seven runnings of the 1 1/16 contest.
American Pharoah broke his maiden second time out in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) on Sept. 3, and he backed up that victory with another powerhouse performance in the FrontRunner, which was his first start around two turns.
As he did in the Futurity, American Pharoah went right to the lead Saturday, daring his competition to catch him. Skyway was closest the first six furlongs, then Calculator made a brief effort at the top of the stretch, but American Pharoah was simply too much, drawing off powerfully to win by 3 ¼ lengths.
“All the way he was on a high cruising speed,” said his winning rider Victor Espinoza. “He has such a long stride. He moves really nice and is light on his feet. When the other horse, (Calculator) got close to me, I encouraged my horse a little. He’s a young so I want to teach him that when he hits the stretch it’s time to go. I did, and he moved three or four lengths in front. He’s one of the best 2-year-olds right now.”
Baffert talked about American Pharoah in terms of his sire, who Baffert also trained for Zayat.
“He’s different from Pioneerof the Nile. Pioneer took a while to relax. This horse has a lot of brilliance. What I’m noticing is that he’s putting brilliance into his offspring. There’s (definitely) something there that is making him an unbelievable sire.”
With the win, American Pharoah has taken two of his three starts and has earned $361,500.