ARCADIA, Calif. — Corniche won the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita, giving embattled Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record 10th victory in the Grade 1 race.
Ridden by fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Corniche ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.75 on opening day of Santa Anita’s fall meet.
The victory earned Corniche a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 at Del Mar.
However, the colt didn’t earn what was to have been 10 points toward qualifying for next year’s Kentucky Derby. That’s due to Churchill Downs prohibiting any of Baffert’s horses from earning Derby qualifying points. He’s been suspended by the track for the 2022 and 2023 Derbies.
“We’re just going to let the process play itself out and not think about that now,” Baffert said. “The main thing is to keep them healthy and have them ready for the next dance. I just focus on these horses day in and day out.”
Baffert’s Medina Spirit won this year’s Derby, but failed a postrace drug test that the trainer is challenging in the courts.
Corniche paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 2-5 favorite. The 2-year-old colt was purchased for $1.5 million in April by Speedway Stables owner Peter Fluor.
“There’s just so much upside to this horse,” Smith said. “This is what’s really exciting about him.”
The victory, worth $180,000, increased Corniche’s career earnings to $222,000.
Pappacap returned $6.80 and $4.20. Oviatt Class was another half-length back in third and paid $3 to show.