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Eight Rings Heads Friday’s American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita

Eight Rings Heads Friday’s American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita

ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Bob Baffert’s Eight Rings, Mark Glatt’s Collusion Illusion, John Shirreffs’ Express Train and Steve Asmussen’s Shoplifted head a strong field of nine juveniles in Friday’s $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park. The American Pharoah is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile.

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A runaway 6 ¼ length first-out maiden winner going 5 ½ furlongs August 4 at Del Mar, this colt by Empire Maker was off as the prohibitive 1-2 favorite in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) September 2, but ducked in at the break, unseating jockey Drayden Van Dyke. With Van Dyke’s status uncertain until recently, Baffert has opted to bring Hall of Famer John Velazquez in to ride on Friday.

A Florida-bred colt by Twirling Candy, he’s done little wrong in two starts.  A first out half length maiden winner going five furlongs on July 21, Collusion Illusion made an impressive late run in taking the Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar by 1 ¼ lengths on August 10. Joe Talamo rides back as Collusion Illusion bids for his third straight win.

Second, beaten 6 ¼ lengths by Eight Rings going 5 ½ furlongs August 4, Express Train stretched out to mile in his second start, winning by 14 ¼ lengths as the 3-5 favorite. A $500,000 Keeneland September yearling, this Union Rags colt will be ridden back by Mike Smith.


An $800,000 March 2-year-old in training sale purchase, Shoplifted was an impressive 4 ½ length first-out maiden winner going 5 ½ furlongs at Saratoga July 27 and came back to run second over a sloppy track in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) going seven furlongs on Sept. 2. Joel Rosario will ship in from New York to ride this Into Mischief colt.

A 10 ½ length maiden $100,000 claiming winner at odds of 1-2 on August 21, Nucky was dismissed as a 35-1 longshot in the Del Mar Futurity, which was his fifth career start. Breaking from post position seven, he avoided any trouble that may have been caused by favored Eight Rings, who broke from post position two. With Norberto Arroyo, Jr., up, this Ghostzapper colt pressed the pace and went on to post a 2 ¾ length win while earning a weak 68 Beyer Speed figure.

Here is the full field for the American Pharoah:

  1. American Theorem—Tiago Pereira—122
  2. Fore Left—Mario Gutierrez–122
  3. Eight Rings—John Velazquez—122
  4. Express Train—Mike Smith-122
  5. Storm the Court—Flavien Prat—122
  6. Defense Wins—Rafael Bejarano—122
  7. Shoplifted—Joel Rosario–122
  8. Nucky—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—122
  9. Collusion Illusion—Joe Talamo—122 

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