ARCADIA, CA – Gary and Mary West’s Game Winner proved to be the gamest juvenile in the field after outdueling Rowayton in the stretch to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The American Pharoah is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Game Winner receiving an automatic berth in the Sentient Jet Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 2.
Breaking from post 4 under Joel Rosario as the 1/5 favorite, Game Winner raced up to run second along the outside of early leader Rowayton through fractions of :23.43, :47.50, and 1:11.85. Exiting the far turn, Game Winner headed the leader and began to inch forward. Extending his advantage as he passed the 1/8 pole, the Bob Baffert trainee drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:43.77 for the 8 1/2-furlong main track event.
“He broke well out of there,” Rosario said. “I just chirped at him a little bit, put him on the outside, and he responded to that really well. I wasn’t trying to be too far back and that worked out. He’s a very good horse. He kinda just waits for other horses, he’s a one-run horse. He stays galloping and kinda waited for some company. He’s an easy horse to ride, I was just a passenger today.”
Gunmetal Gray made a brief three-wide bid in the far turn but soon faltered back to third, yet in the shadow of the wire was able to re-rally and get up past Rowayton for second. Much farther back, Jefe and Synthesis completed the order of finish while never factoring into the race.
Game Winner’s win was his third in as many starts, including a romp last out in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. The juvenile son of Candy Ride increased his lifetime earnings to $396,000.
“He came out of the Del Mar Futurity really well,” Gary West said. “He’d been training well and we thought he’d like two turns. His family all liked a mile and 1/4, but you never know until they do it. I didn’t think he deserved to be that big of a favorite, but he ran great. We’re looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup for sure.”
Game Winner returned $2.60 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Gunmetal Gray brought back $2.80 to place and $2.10 to show, while Rowayton paid $2.10 to show.