In a thrilling finish that highlighted a spectacular day, Bob Baffert's American Anthem prevailed by what appeared to be a scant nose, but was actually labeled a head, in Saturday's Grade II, $250,000 San Carlos Stakes. Ridden by Mike Smith, American Anthem, who dueled with St. Joe Bay and Tyler Baze from the quarter pole to the wire, got seven furlongs in 1:22.12.
With St. Joe Bay breaking on top from his number two post position, American Anthem was also quickly into stride from post four and shadowed him into and around the far turn, getting on terms a quarter mile out.
“I caught such a good (break from the gate) that I just thought I needed to stay out of his way,” said Smith, who was also center stage along with Baffert and Triple Crown Champion Justify earlier in the day. “I thought all I could do was mess it up at that point. St. Joe Bay was running along so easy that I thought I should keep a little pressure on him, and I'm glad I did because I needed every bit of it to get by him.”
A multiple graded stakes winner coming into the San Carlos, American Anthem was most recently an impressive third condition allowance winner on June 1 at Churchill Downs and was off as the 4-5 favorite today in a field of eight 3-year-olds and up, paying $3.80, $3.00 and $2.10.
“I took him to Kentucky, ran him there and he did really well off the layoff,” said Baffert. “But today, he looked a little heavy, I don't know why. He's put on a few pounds since the last race. I think he's just getting better with age.
“That other horse (St. Joe Bay) was putting up a big fight and it looked like he had him put away but Anthem got him…I was talking to Mike and said ‘We got to get another win,' because it's pretty tough after winning a Triple Crown, but still, life goes on and you've got to keep winning…Big Money Mike, if he's got the horse under him, he's getting the job done.”
A 4-year-old colt by Bodemeister, out of the A.P. Indy mare Indy's Windy, American Anthem was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and is owned by WinStar Farm, LLC, Head of Plains Partners, LLC, China Horse Club and SF Racing, LLC.
In garnering his third graded stakes win, American Anthem picked up $150,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $673,945. His overall mark now stands at 10-5-1-2.
Claimed out of a third place finish for $62,500 on May 28, St. Joe Bay, ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze, was off at 42-1 and paid $21.00 and $12.00.
“He put a head in front two or three times,” said Baze. “He tried so hard. It's not very often you get one that tries that hard. I'm just glad I got a chance to ride him.”
Next to last after the first quarter mile, Horse Greedy, who finished 1 ¾ lengths behind the top two, rallied to finish third by 4 ¼ lengths in front of El Huerfano. Off at 18-1, Horse Greedy paid $6.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.21, 44.46 and 1:09.04.
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