American Cleopatra Dazzles in Debut
Zayat Stables homebred American Cleopatra, a full sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, made her highly anticipated debut a winning one on Sunday by capturing a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Del Mar by two lengths. The Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Pioneerof the Nile and the Yankee Gentlemen mare Littleprincessemma was the public’s co-third choice at odds of more than 7-1 despite her high-profile pedigree, sibling and connections and returned $16.60, $6.60 and $4.20.
American Cleopatra, who drew post position five in the field of seven other juvenile fillies, broke like a rocket from the gate under jockey Stewart Elliott and though she wasn’t in front past the opening quarter in :21 4/5, she was in command past the half in :45.17. As she rounded the far bend, American Cleopatra slowly started to pull away from the field behind her and, soon after she passed the eighth pole in :57.01 with a three length advantage, Elliot did little more than pilot her safely to the wire, stopping the clock in 1:03.38 over a fast main track.
“She was fit and she was ready,” Baffert said. “And those are some good genes there.
“Her last work [from the gate], she worked really well. And Stewart Elliott is a really good gate jockey, so [I wasn’t surprised she broke so fast.] She was pretty impressive today. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t talk them up, you get 7-1.”
American Cleopatra shares the same genes as her big brother, but as much as she is like American Pharoah in personality, she’s physically built much differently.
“She’s a much shorter-legged and stockier,” Baffert said. “But she’s got a good mind and is pretty sweet like her brother.”
Baffert didn’t indicate what would be next for American Cleopatra, but it wouldn’t be surprising if she was the Hall of Fame conditioner’s best shot at winning a seventh Del Mar Debutante (GI) on September 3.
Trojan Nation a Maiden No More
Gilbert or Sones’ Trojan Nation, probably the last well-known maiden sophomore in the nation after Laoban broke his maiden in Saturday’s Jim Dandy Stakes (GII), finally graduated to winner status on Sunday after capturing the first race at Del Mar, a 1 1/8-mile turf event for maiden sophomores worth $63,000, by three-quarters of a length.
The bay son of Street Cry and the champion Summer Squall mare Storm Song previously had been on the Triple Crown trail after finishing second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (GI) in early April, but after a 16th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a 10th-place showing in the Belmont Stakes (GI), a plan was made to regroup and aim for a summer turf campaign in California.
Under jockey Drayden Van Dyke, Trojan Nation rallied from off the pace, battled through some trouble at the top of the stretch and dug in down the lane to gain the victory, stopping the clock in 1:50.58. Trainer Paddy Gallagher, who is well-known for his sense of humor, said he’s not sure if it was the turf or the return to maiden company that helped his charge finally deliver a win.
“Was it the turf? Maybe it was the maiden, I don’t know honestly,” Gallagher said. “He’s a very big horse and I always thought he’d be good on the turf. Hard to say what, but right now we’re going to breathe a little and figure out what’s next. I know he’ll have the earnings to get into the Del Mar Derby (G!) (on September 4) but we’ll look around.”
As the public’s 8-5 favorite in the field of nine Trojan Nation paid $5.20, $3.80 and $2.80.