Triple Crown winner American Pharoah recorded his first winner in North America when Richard Ravin's Maven took the Friday opener at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Wesley Ward trainee, sent to post as the odds-on favorite in the 4 1/2-furlong maiden sprint, went straight to the lead under jockey Dylan Davis. The chestnut colt marked the opening quarter-mile in 22.55 seconds and the half-mile 46.10 under pressure from Lebda.
At the top of the stretch, Maven was confronted by Lebda but the chestnut comfortably kept his foe at bay to graduate first out, winning by a half-length in a final running time of 52.82 over a main track labeled fast.
“It's definitely big for breeding in North America,” Davis said. “A big thank you to Wesley Ward for continuing to use me. He's had a big impact on my career as a bug boy and continues to do so.
“With the horse being by American Pharoah, everyone expects a lot and he ran really well,” continued Davis. “I was jogging and galloping him in the mornings, so I got a good feel for him. A huge thanks to the connections, I'm sure they're looking for bigger and better things.”
Ward sent out filly Tesorina, American Pharoah's first starter in North America on Wednesday afternoon at Aqueduct, to a third-place finish.
Ward was ecstatic following Maven's triumph and said that American Pharoah's first North American winner will target the Group 2 Norfolk at Royal Ascot on June 20.
“I'm getting texts from everyone watching the race,” Ward said. “It's fantastic for racing, for Coolmore, for owner Richard Ravin and most importantly, for me. What I see is that he's going to be a good sire. The dam [Richies Party Girl] was a turf sprinter and I think this one is going to be a turf sprinter as well. He's had outstanding works over the Polytrack at Turfway which translates to turf. We'll run him in the Norfolk at Royal Ascot and hopefully we can put American Pharoah on the big scale as a sire.”
The 2015 Triple Crown winner's first overall starter was Peter Brant's Monarch of Egypt who graduated at first asking at Naas Racecourse in Ireland for trainer Aidan O'Brien.
Bred in Kentucky by Ward, Maven is the first progeny out of three-time turf stakes winning Any Given Saturday broodmare Richies Party Girl.
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