by Santa Anita Park Press Release
September 27, 2019
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 27, 2019) — Sent to the front out of the gate by John Velazquez, Eight Rings dominated proceedings throughout in Friday’s Grade I, $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita, winning by six lengths while getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.41. Trained by Bob Baffert, Eight Rings made amends for a disastrous trip in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, a race in which he ducked in at the break, unseating Drayden Van Dyke as the 1-2 favorite.
“I told Johnny V. to ride him with confidence,” said Baffert, who racked up his record ninth win in the race named for his 2015 Triple Crown winner. “I thought he might be in front. Johnny said let’s get him away from there, and he’s figured out this track. He gigged him a little bit, but he said, ‘Wow, he’s really fast.’ He just got out there really quick and I was actually just watching his ears the whole way.
“Johnny said he’ll be going good, then he’ll start looking around and lagging, and all the way down the stretch he was still looking around…My heart is still with American Pharoah, so I’m glad to see his babies are doing well. I’m blessed and fortunate to get these kinds of horses.”
Off as the 6-5 favorite in a field of nine juveniles, Eight Rings paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.80.
Owned by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Frederick Hertrich, III, John D. Fielding and Golconda Stables, Eight Rings, a Kentucky-bred colt by Empire Maker, out of the Pure Prize mare Purely Hot, was trying two turns for the first time and now has two wins from three starts. With the winner’s share of $180,000, he has earnings of $216,951.
“He’s still not 100 percent confident in what he needs to do,” said Velazquez, who rode Eight Rings for the first time today and who won the Grade I Chandelier earlier in the day with Baffert’s Bast. “If he can put his mind to running, he’ll be a dangerous horse.”
A Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, the American Pharoah victory provides Eight Rings with a fees-paid berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
Trained by George Papaprodomou and ridden by Tiago Pereira, American Theorem, a son of American Pharoah, was second throughout and finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of Storm the Court. Off at 7-1, American Theorem paid $7.60 and $6.00.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Storm the Court was off at 19-1 and paid $8.80 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.72, 47.06, 1:11.71 and 1:38.11.
JOHN VELAZQUEZ, EIGHT RINGS, WINNER: “He’s still not 100 percent confident in what he needs to do. Obviously he’s very talented, but he needs to put it together and go on. He still ran a good race, but you can see he has some room to improve. If he can put his mind to running, he’ll be a dangerous horse.”
(On going to the lead): “I wanted to put him into the race, and that way he could get his mind on running. I was pretty comfortable with the way he was moving in the backstretch. But he kept kind of wandering, so I felt like I had to keep reminding him to focus. It’s only his second start, so he’s still learning basically.”
TIAGO PEREIRA, AMERICAN THEOREM, SECOND: “I hoped to win, obviously, but I think it was a great race. I followed a horse that was great as well. I am happy, second place is good, and I continue confident for the next race. I think I have a great horse. It will win many big races.”
BOB BAFFERT, EIGHT RINGS, WINNER: “The horse was training really well. I told Johnny V. to ride him with confidence.I thought he might be in front. Johnny said let’s get him away from there, and he’s figured out this track. He gigged him a little bit, but he said, ‘Wow, he’s really fast.’ He just got out there really quick and I was actually just watching his ears the whole way. Johnny said he’ll be going good, then he’ll start looking around and lagging, and all the way down the stretch he was still looking around.
“But it was a good race for him, coming off that last disastrous race. I’m just so fortunate that Drayden (Van Dyke) didn’t get hurt worse. I’ve got to thank my entire team. Everybody’s been on him; even Joe Talamo’s worked him for me. When you have a good one like this, you want him to really perform well.
“I’m happy for George Papaprodromou that his American Pharoah (ridgling) ran second. My heart is still with American Pharoah so I’m glad to see his babies are doing well. I’m blessed and fortunate to get these kinds of horses.”
TOM RYAN (SF RACING), EIGHT RINGS, WINNER: “I guess I had more of a hand in putting the team together to select a colt. The colt was really selected by Bob Baffert, Henry Field, the Frankie brothers, a lot of great people involved in the syndication. We are big supporters of syndication and here are the results.
“Baffert calls our syndication the Avengers. Bob gives you confidence; this morning he said we are ready. It’s an exciting month ahead of us more than any of us ever dreamed of.”