09/27/2014 6:15PM

American Pharoah delivers as FrontRunner favorite

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Shigeki Kikkawa
American Pharoah led throughout Saturday to win the 1 1/16-mile FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. - American Pharoah led throughout the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs on Sept. 3 to record his first career win. He used the same tactics to win Saturday’s $300,750 FrontRunner Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita, a victory expected to make him the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile here on Nov. 1.

That is a role trainer Bob Baffert said American Pharoah deserves after his two major stakes wins. The victories are a contrast to a fifth-place finish in his debut at Del Mar on Aug. 9.

“I can’t believe his demeanor since his first race,” Baffert said. “He’s so professional. I love the way he went around there.

“He has that extra something that all the good ones have. What a performance. You hope for that, but you never know.”

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The FrontRunner was a Win and You’re In race for the BC Juvenile.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah ($3) won the Grade 1 FrontRunner by 3 1/2 lengths over 12-1 Calculator. Texas Red, another 12-1 shot, finished third, followed by Lord Nelson, Daddy D T, Skyway, Conquest Panthera,  and Sky Preacher.

Espinoza rode American Pharoah for the first time in the Del Mar Futurity, a win that left him impressed. He says American Pharoah has progressed since that race.

“He has a high-speed cruising level,” Espinoza said. “He does everything like a good horse.”

American Pharoah led by a half-length over Skyway through the first half-mile, setting fractions of 23.09 and 47.27 seconds.  Calculator closed from fourth to get within a half-length of American Pharoah on the turn, but could not get closer. Espinoza urged American Pharoah in early stretch and got a quick response.

“The other horses got close and I wanted to encourage him a bit,” Espinoza said. “I didn’t want to wait. He’s a young horse. I wanted to each him to get that kick in the end. He does everything right.”

Elvis Trujillo rode Calculator and feared his chance for a win disappeared in early stretch.

“It was me or him in the stretch,” Trujillo said. “When that horse opened up a length, I thought, Uh-oh.”

American Pharoah, a ridgling by Pioneerof the Nile, races for breeder Zayat Stables. From three starts, American Pharoah has earned $361,500.