Photo: Benoit Photo&13;
Unhurried early from his rail post position, American Anthem, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Bodemeister, assumed command while three-wide turning for home and easily repelled a late bid by Kimbear.
“Mike did a brilliant job of getting him out of that one-hole and they went fast,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Baffert. “They went 21 and four for the first quarter. Mike just crossed over on everybody and got to the outside in the clear. My only question was being in the one-hole. I knew we’d have to get the trip and Mike gave him the trip.”
Well beaten in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park March 18 and in the Grade I, 1 1/8 miles Santa Anita Derby on April 8, American Anthem was off at 4-5 in a field of five sophomores and paid $3.60, $2.20 and $2.10.
“I think you have to throw that last race out, the Santa Anita Derby,” said Smith. “I was scrambling the whole time and he got hooked pretty hard in that race…(Today) he eased back so nicely, yet he was in the bridle at all times, really. I heard the announcer say ‘And someone is flying to catch him on the outside!’ It made me panic and I probably didn’t need to ride him quite as hard as I did. He needed to go ahead and run through the wire so it was a good experience for him.”
Bred by WinStar Farm and owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, LLC and SF Racing, LLC et al, American Anthem notched his second win from five starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $114,545.
Breaking from post position two, Kimbear was last early under Joe Talamo, swung three-wide at the top of the stretch but had to settle for second money. The second choice at 2-1, he paid $2.80 and $2.10.
“We had pace to run at and I was happy with the way the race set up,” said Talamo. “We had the winner in our sights, but he was too much today. I still think this (seven furlongs) is the best distance for my horse.”
Breaking from the far outside, Aristocratic, who was part of a three-horse scramble for the lead along with Sutton Impact (fifth) and Taxman’s Quest (fourth), proved third best, finishing some 11 ¼ lengths clear of “Taxman.”
Off at 3-1, he paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.85, 44.33 and 1:09.26.
Source: Santa Anita Park