News and STORIES

Weston Set for American Pharoah Stakes as Only Graded Stakes Winner

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Friday September 25, 2020
Weston will be the only graded stakes winner among the field of eight set to run in the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. Despite that, he will be going up against tough competition. 

The runner is trained Ryan Hanson, who is also co-owner along with Chris Drakos.

"A lot of it depends on whether he can get the distance or not," said Hanson. "A mile-and-a-sixteenth might be a bit of a stretch right now. With the exception of a few, I think most are going to two turns for the first time. There are a couple that have been two turns on the turf, but that's a big difference."

The American Pharoah Stakes will cover 1 1/16 miles, and it is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race, providing a spot in the TVG Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. 

Weston's Pedigree and Career

Weston, a son of Spendthrift Farm freshman sire Hit It a Bomb, had a solid 2-year-old campaign. However, he never won further than a mile. 

Elke, who is the gelding's dam and a daughter of Dixie Union, similarly did well during her 2-year-old season but never won past six furlongs.

Weston has proved his value since being purchased for $7,000 by Drakos at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He broke his maiden at first asking, winning by 1 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita before going on to score the six-furlong Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar. 

He is coming into the American Pharoah Stakes off a third-place run in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity (G1).

Weston has $150,000 in earnings, and he will be joined by Drayden Van Dyke as jockey, who has been the horse's rider for all of his starts.

"He trains and works like he can get two turns," Hanson said. "Now it is whether he can get two turns with this level of class. I think the water is getting deeper."

According to Hanson, the challenge is even tougher, with the normal amount of horses getting back into racing. 

"This horse has always been an underdog, so we'll see," the trainer said. "Honestly, we are just happy with where we are right now and happy with the horse."

Others in the Field

The American Pharoah is also set to feature names like Bob Baffert's Spielberg. The son of Union Rags took second in the Del Mar Futurity, finishing 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Weston.

"He got beat going seven eighths, but you know what, this horse, he's shown me he's a two-turn horse," Baffert said. "The way he's come back and worked (well), and he's a beautiful horse. I'm proud of both of his efforts. He got beat by a good horse. But I think two turns, I think he will just explode going two turns."

In both of his career starts, Speilberg has finished second, including by 5 3/4 lengths to Dr. Schivel, who defeated him by 1 3/4 lengths in the Del Mar Futurity. 

Spielberg is owned by the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm, and Robert Masterson. The colt was sold for $1 million by Lane's End at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. 

Other top names among the field are:
  • Waspirant, who is coming off a one-mile maiden win on Del Mar's main track
  • Rombauer, who broke his maiden going a mile on the Del Mar Turf July 25 and took sixth in the Sept. 7 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes
  • Dyn O Mite, who took second in a one-mile maiden special weight July 25 on the Del Mar Turf and finished fifth in the Del Mar Futurity