09/03/2014 9:46PM

American Pharoah dominates Del Mar Futurity

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Benoit and Associates
American Pharoah gives trainer Bob Baffert a record 12th win in the Del Mar Futurity on Wednesday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – This wasn’t the Del Mar meet trainer Bob Baffert was used to having. He started slowly and never was in contention for leading trainer. But there is one thing Baffert seemingly has down pat here, and that’s winning the Del Mar Futurity.

For a record 12th time, all since 1996, Baffert won the Grade 1, $301,000 Futurity, this time with American Pharoah, who disappointed in his lone prior start but more than made up for it on closing day Wednesday with an overpowering, 4 3/4-length victory.

Calculator, a 15-1 shot, finished a clear second, no match for the winner but 8 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Iron Fist, who caught 2-1 favorite Skyway in the closing yards.

Henry’s Holiday was fifth and was followed by Red Button, Oh Newman, Inexcess Time, and Holiday Camp.

American Pharoah ($8.40), with Victor Espinoza up, broke well from the inside post, got to the lead quickly, and never looked back. He set fractions of 22.72 seconds, 45.23, and 1:08.95 en route to a final time of 1:21.48 for seven furlongs on Polytrack.

The first three finishers all were winless coming into the race but were exiting the fastest 2-year-old race of the meet, a maiden race Aug. 9 that was won by Om, who had to miss the Futurity with a minor injury. American Pharoah had finished fifth as the favorite in that race, his debut, but came back to work as well as he had going into the race, so his connections – Baffert and the Zayat Stables of Ahmed Zayat – kept the faith.

“He acted up that day, was rank coming out of the paddock, and ran off,” Baffert said by telephone. “We took the blinkers off, and I put cotton in his ears, and he came back and worked really, really nice. We decided to take a shot at it. I haven’t done it much, but this is the first time I’ve won a race putting cotton in a horse’s ears.”

Baffert was not at the race. He had gone back to his home in the Los Angeles area on Monday and let assistant Jim Barnes handle chores here.

“I told Victor in the paddock that the rail was golden today – just break and bounce out of there,” Barnes said.

American Pharoah is a son of the red-hot stallion Pioneerof the Nile, who raced for Baffert and Zayat. Zayat bred American Pharoah, who is out of the Yankee Gentleman mare Littleprincessemma.