ARCADIA, CA — Heavy favorite American Anthem cruised to a 1 3/4-length win in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita.
Unhurried early from his rail post position, American Anthem, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Bodemeister, assumed command while three-wide turning for home and easily repelled a late bid by Kimbear. Ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Bob Baffert, American Anthem covered seven furlongs in 1:22.02.
“Mike did a brilliant job of getting him out of that one-hole and they went fast,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Baffert. “They went 21 and four for the first 1/4. Mike just crossed over on everybody and got to the outside in the clear. My only question was being in the one-hole. I knew we’d have to get the trip and Mike gave him the trip.”
Well beaten in both the Grade 2, 1 1/16 miles Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 18 and the Grade 1, 1 1/8 miles Santa Anita Derby on April 8, American Anthem was off at 4-5 in a field of five and performed much stronger over the shorter distance.
“I think you have to throw that last race out, the Santa Anita Derby,” said Smith. “I was scrambling the whole time and he got hooked pretty hard in that race. (Today) he eased back so nicely, yet he was in the bridle at all times, really. I heard the announcer say, ‘And someone is flying to catch him on the outside!’ It made me panic, and I probably didn’t need to ride him quite as hard as I did. He needed to go ahead and run through the wire, so it was a good experience for him.”
Bred by WinStar Farm and owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, LLC and SF Racing, LLC et al, American Anthem notched his second win from five starts. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $114,545.
Breaking from post position two, Kimbear was last early under Joe Talamo, swung three-wide at the top of the stretch, then had to settle for second money.
“We had pace to run at and I was happy with the way the race set up,” said Talamo. “We had the winner in our sights, but he was too much today. I still think this (seven furlongs) is the best distance for my horse.”
Breaking from the far outside, Aristocratic, who was part of a three-horse scramble for the lead along with Sutton Impact and Taxman’s Quest, proved third-best, finishing some 11 1/4 lengths clear. Taxman’s Quest and Sutton Impact completed the order.
American Anthem returned $3.60, $2.20, and $2.10. Kimbear brought back $2.80 and $2.10, while Aristocratic paid $2.10 to show.
Additional Race Quotes
Jockey Mike Smith, American Anthem: “Without a doubt, stretching him out isn’t out of the question. I think his first time going long was coming off a sprint, and also, he hadn’t run in a while. In the Santa Anita Derby, I jumped well and put him on the lead. Gormley is such a nice horse, he pushed me so hard that day, and maybe it took a little steam out of my horse for a while. I would see no problem with coming back and going long, even next time, if they decide to. He can do it, it’s there. He did that 7/8 pretty handy. I don’t see why another 1/8 would bother him.”
Assistant Trainer Jimmy Barnes, American Anthem: “I don’t know if distance is an issue. At Oaklawn, we lost a shoe, and in the Santa Anita Derby, it was more the way the race set up, going so fast early. I don’t think stretching him out is out of the question, but those are Bob’s decisions and China Horse Club’s. I just take care of the horse and make sure he’s healthy for each race.
Santa Anita Park