March 28, 2023

American Pharoah’s half-sister, Chasing Yesterday, gets up late in Anoakia

Chasing Yesterday, beaten favorite in the Spinaway, rebounded in the Anoakia to make half-brother American Pharoah proud © BENOIT PHOTO

Summer Wind Equine’s homebred Chasing Yesterday, intrinsically valuable as a half-sister to American Pharoah by leading sire Tapit, enhanced her portfolio with a good-looking first stakes victory in Sunday’s $77,500 Anoakia S. at Santa Anita.

One of Bob Baffert’s splashy maiden winners at Del Mar, Chasing Yesterday shipped for Saratoga’s marquee race for juvenile fillies, the September 1 Spinaway (G1), and ranked as the 8-5 favorite. Unfortunately, the chestnut wound up seventh after a bumpy start, prompting Baffert to wish he’d kept her home.

The Anoakia was just the spot for a retrieval mission. Bettors kept faith, dispatching Chasing Yesterday as the 3-5 favorite, and she did not disappoint.

Well handled by new rider Drayden Van Dyke, Chasing Yesterday settled several lengths off the torrid pace set by It’sjustanillusion. That 8-5 second choice, ironically the mount of Mike Smith, who previously rode Chasing Yesterday, tore through an opening quarter in :21.49.

Chasing Yesterday advanced into second by the time It’sjustanillusion reeled off the half in :44.72, and the favorite took dead aim on the leader. After drifting out a tad into the stretch, Chasing Yesterday lengthened stride beautifully, drew alongside It’sjustanillusion at the five-furlong mark in :57.10, and wore her down.

A half-length on top at the wire, Chasing Yesterday completed six furlongs in 1:09.86 and improved her scorecard to 3-2-0-0, $84,250.

“She’s nice,” Van Dyke said. “I’ll tell you what, that horse that ran second, It’sjustanillusion, hats off to her, she really made me run. That horse dug in, but my filly dug in too and ran a helluva race.

“That was exciting. I thought I’d go by a little bit easier today.”

“She showed us that she’s a stakes winner now,” Baffert said. “She just went up in price. That was a nice filly that she beat today.”

Smith noted It’sjustanillusion’s fine effort in defeat.

“She ran too good to lose,” the Hall of Famer said. “She went a little quicker than I wanted, but I didn’t want to get into a wrestling match with her either. I tried to steal a length there turning for home, but it wasn’t enough.”

Chasing Yesterday became the fourth stakes performer produced by Littleprincessemma. Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind purchased the Yankee Gentleman mare for $2.1 million at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November in 2014, when American Pharoah was expected to be voted champion two-year-old. The investment proved well-founded. American Pharoah went on to end the 37-year Triple Crown drought and added the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to reign as 2015 Horse of the Year.

Littleprincessemma is also responsible for American Pharoah’s full siblings American Cleopatra, runner-up in the 2016 Del Mar Debutante (G1), and St Patrick’s Day, a close second in the September 30 Renaissance (G3) at Naas for Aidan O’Brien. Before his Irish move, however, St Patrick’s Day had been trained by Baffert, like his accomplished relatives.

Last year, Littleprincessemma foaled another full brother to American Pharoah, a Pioneerof the Nile colt named Theprinceofthebes. Her 2018 foal, Triple Tap, is a full brother to Chasing Yesterday by Tapit.

Lyon commented on Chasing Yesterday’s name in the postrace interview. Although a reference to the idea that the baby half-sister will be chasing after American Pharoah’s legacy, Chasing Yesterday has a more personal, and poignant, meaning: in tribute to Lyon’s late husband, Frank.

With her pedigree, and the scope she has to stretch out, Chasing Yesterday has every right to develop into a smart three-year-old – and chase bigger prizes over a series of tomorrows.