American Pharoah Stakes Predictions, Picks, Odds (Santa Anita)

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Oviatt Class (5/1)

American Pharoah Stakes Predictions, Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 CORNICHE 5/2
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M Smith B Baffert
2 FLYING DRUMMER 6/1
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J Velazquez B Baffert
3 FINNEUS 10/1
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T Pereira W Solis
4 OVIATT CLASS 5/1
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K Desormeaux J K Desormeaux
5 JOKER BOY 8/1
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E Maldanado B J Koriner
6 ROCKEFELLER 2/1
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F Prat B Baffert
7 PAPPACAP 6/1
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J Bravo M Casse

 

Rockefeller, an impressive debut winner five weeks ago down the coast, tops a promising group of seven juvenile males stretching out to a mile and one-sixteenth for the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes on Friday, opening day at Santa Anita.

A bay colt by Medaglia d’Oro, the $750,000 Keeneland September yearling made the most of his first race with a sharp 2 ¼ length victory as the 9/5 favorite in a field of 9 going six furlongs at Del Mar. He will be one of three in the race trained by Bob Baffert, who has already won this race on five occasions.

Another good-looking debut winner for trainer Baffert is Corniche. The Quality Road colt broke his maiden going 5 ½ furlongs at Del Mar on September 4. Bet down to 1/2 odds for his unveiling, the bay colt went right to the lead and carved out fast fractions on his way to an easy victory.

Stakes winners Pappacap and Joker Boy, as well as Finneus, the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity runner-up, are three others with stakes experience, who merit consideration in the opening day feature.

The American Pharoah Stakes is a Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 5 at Del Mar.

Best Bets for the American Pharoah Stakes

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$20 Win – Oviatt Class = $20

$5 Exacta part wheel – Oviatt Class over Pappacap, Joker Boy and Rockefeller

$5 Exacta part wheel – Pappacap, Joker Boy, and Rockefeller over Oviatt Class

Top Pick:

Oviatt Class (5/1)

Race Analysis

Rockefeller

It’s hard to know how good this one is, having had only one start in which he won handily at 6 furlongs. He is bred to smoothly transition to two turns, but until they do it, you never know for sure. In that debut win, he quickly opened up on his competition in the stretch before gearing down a little late. Perhaps he is the most talented horse in the field, or perhaps the move to 8 ½ furlongs against stakes company will be a challenge for him at first. If any horse in the race turns out to be special, he is as good a bet as anyone, but as the favorite, I think it makes sense to take a shot to beat him as he tries new things.

Corniche

With the speed he displayed in his debut at Del Mar, this son of Quality Road looks like the most likely one to go right to the early lead. That first out victory was fast and impressive, but now he steps right up to stakes company. Breaking from the rail, the Baffert-trainee may be able to control things early, but I think it’s more likely he will be tested sooner rather than later. He’s a threat, but at the odds, and with the significant bump up in distance, I will take my chances that he comes up a little short down the stretch in this one.

Oviatt Class

This son of Bernardini has improved in each of his first three starts against the maiden company. In a race with plenty of early speed, he does his best running late. He also has the most experience around two turns, having twice gone a mile. His last one, in which he came from well back to beat the highly regarded Flying Drummer going away, points out he is a horse with some talent. While most of the others in here have questions about the distance this early in their career, I have little doubt that he will be finishing fast. He is the top pick.

Pappacap

The only graded stakes winner in the field, this son of Gun Runner saw his undefeated record come to an end last time when fourth in the Grade 1 Futurity. It was a disappointing effort but being stuck down on the inside while chasing a fast pace was likely not the trip he wanted. He won his first two, a maiden at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 2 Best Pal, while sprinting and in impressive fashion. A better stalking trip in this 8 ½ furlong trip might be right up his alley. His pedigree says he should like the stretch out. I am willing to forgive the last and believe he can be a factor at pretty nice odds in here.

Flying Drummer

Still, a maiden, the third of the Baffert runners has been well backed in each of his first two starts. He was narrowly beaten in a maiden sprint first out, but was unable to hold off the late run of Oviatt Class when stretched out to a mile last out. He did a lot of the dirty work in that one, and the son of Gun Runner was able to hold on for second as the heavy favorite. If that experience does him well, and he can improve, he might be a threat in his second try at a route of ground. Another one who is not out of it.

Joker Boy

This California-bred son of Practical Joke has looked good in winning each of his first two career starts. Both did come against statebreds at Del Mar, but I like the way he kicked it in late to get up in his debut, and then showed more speed to dominate the I’m Smokin’ Stakes. That sort of versatility speaks to his class as he moves up into the open company. He showed some talent in each of the first two, and he’ll need further improvement, but in a race with plenty of unproven talent, he rates a shot.

Finneus

Also a California-bred, this one outran expectations last time to be second in the Del Mar Futurity at odds of 38/1. In four starts, he has rallied every race and has finished in the money each time, but his only win came against fellow statebreds. On Friday, he should have pretty attractive odds again as he stretches out for the first time. A son of Stay Thirsty, he is not without hope to rally into the picture once again.

How to Watch the American Pharoah Stakes

American Pharoah Stakes Race Information
Race American Pharoah Stakes (Grade 1)
Location Santa Anita
Time Friday, October 1 — 7:30 pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $300,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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