March 21, 2023

Eight Rings seeks redemption in American Pharoah; Bast tops Chandelier

Eight Rings breaking his maiden at Del Mar last August (c) Gustavsson

After swerving in and dislodging the jockey at the start of the Del Mar Futurity (G1), Eight Rings will look to make amends in Friday’s $300,000 American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita. The well-regarded son of Empire Maker will add blinkers and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the 1 1/16-mile race.

A field of nine is set for the American Pharoah, one of three stakes on the opening-day program, and the winner receives a free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the “Win & You’re In” event. The race is also part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, awarding points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers toward a berth in the first leg of the American Triple Crown.

A brilliant debut maiden winner, Eight Rings was favored at 1-2 odds in the Del Mar Futurity and emerged unscathed from the incident. He returned to the worktab 10 days later and has posted three drills in the 25-day interim for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The dark bay colt breaks from post 3.

Nucky survived a claim of foul to post a 35-1 upset in the Del Mar Futurity, scoring by 2 ¾ lengths, and enters on the upswing for Peter Miller. Norberto Arroyo Jr. retains the mount on the Ghostzapper colt. Collusion Illusion enters with a two-for-two record, most recently winning the August 10 Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar by 1 ¼ lengths, and Joe Talamo will be up for Mark Glatt.

Shoplifted invades for Steve Asmussen off a runner-up finish in the September 2 Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, A sharp 4 ¼-length victor in his first outing, the $800,000 son of Into Mischief will have Joel Rosario aboard. Express Train merits respect for John Sadler following a scintillating 14-length victory the second time out on August 28, registering a 100 BRIS Speed rating, and the Union Rags colt keeps the services of Mike Smith. American Theorem, a son of 2015 Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, is another maiden winner of interest following his debut score at Del Mar on August 31. Tiago Pereira rides for George Papaprodromou.

The $300,000 Chandelier (G1) serves as the filly counterpart to the American Pharoah, with a free ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and a combined 17 points toward a spot in the 2020 Kentucky Oaks in the offering, and Del Mar Debutante (G1) winner Bast heads a field of six in the 1 1/16-mile test.

Trained by Baffert, Bast finished second the first time out against maiden special weight foes. The $500,000 daughter of Uncle Mo added blinkers and stylishly graduated in the Del Mar Debutante, romping by 8 ¾ lengths, and Bast receives a rider switch to Velazquez.

Been Studying Her will switch back to open company after capturing the August 28 Generous Portion for California-breds on August 28. The Fast Anna filly has won both career starts and Smith will be up for Dan Ward. Schuylerville (G3) winner Comical, third in the Del Mar Debutante, is also entered.

A salty field of eight turf sprinters will square off in the $200,000 Eddie D. (G2) at five grassy furlongs. Last year’s turf champion and two-time reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal will make a title defense, but he faces a couple of quality rivals in Mr Vargas and Eddie Haskell, the top two respective finishers in the August 17 Green Flash (G3) at Del Mar.