Game Winner, Rowayton Face Off Again in American Pharoah Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 26th, 2018

The field for Saturday’s $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita might be lacking in quantity, but it’s certainly not lacking in quality!

Five promising two-year-old have been entered in the 8.5-furlong “Win and You’re In” prep race for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), including two that have already shown significant talent at the Grade 1 level. Those two are #4 Game Winner and #1 Rowayton, who ran 1-2 in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) earlier this month, and if they run as well in the American Pharoah as they did at Del Mar, they’re going to be tough to beat.

I’m particularly enthusiastic about the chances of the Bob Baffert-trained Game Winner, a stoutly-bred son of Candy Ride out of an A.P. Indy. With a pedigree like that, Game Winner is bred to excel going two turns, so the fact that he won his debut at Del Mar and came back just 16 days later to win the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity is eye-catching. His performance in the Del Mar Futurity was especially strong as he rated nicely off the pace early on before finishing with authority to roll past Rowayton and win by 1 ½ lengths. If he’s shown that much talent sprinting, how good might he look while negotiating 8.5 furlongs—likely a more suitable distance for him—in the American Pharoah Stakes?

Let’s give some credit to Rowayton as well. In the Del Mar Futurity, he set fast fractions of :22.53 and :45.35 while opening up a 4 ½-length lead, but despite going out seemingly too fast, he held on well down the homestretch to secure second place over the well-regarded race favorite Roadster. With a slightly more conservative ride in the American Pharoah, Rowayton should have every chance to ration his speed over the longer distance and remain a major player for the exotics.

Rowayton’s Jerry Hollendorfer-trained stablemate #2 Gunmetal Gray was an impressive 6 ¾-length maiden winner going a mile at Del Mar on August 22nd, so we know he doesn’t have an issue traversing two turns. He also ran pretty fast while doing so, earning an 89 Beyer speed figure, so it’s certainly not a stretch to conclude that Gunmetal Gray has a big chance to outrun Game Winner and/or Rowayton to finish in the top two.

Since this field is small and value could be hard to come by, I’ll try to make a profit by keying Game Winner on top of a trifecta while using only Rowayton and Gunmetal Gray underneath:

$15 trifecta: 4 with 1,2 with 1,2 ($30)

Good luck!