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American Cleopatra a Prime Contender in Del Mar Debutante

American Cleopatra a Prime Contender in Del Mar Debutante by Reinier Macatangay: Almost shockingly, bettors left American Cleopatra at 7-1 odds in her July 31 career debut at Del Mar. As a full 2-year-old sister to Triple Crown-champion American Pharoah, and a Bob Baffert-trained runner, one would reasonably think American Cleopatra would hover around 3-1 at most, but the odds kept drifting up!

American Cleopatra

American Cleopatra (7-1), a full sister to American Pharoah, won her career debut at DelMar Race Track San Diego for trainer Bob Baffert on July 31, 2016.
Photo: Reinier Macatangay

American Cleopatra rewarded supporters with a two-length victory, and now makes her graded stakes debut in the $300,000 Del Mar Debutante (GI) on Saturday. On paper though, she is not a lock to secure the win for Zayat Stables. Rather, it is fair to call her a prime contender against a field of other promising horses.

Getting past the emotion of the win, was it really extraordinary, or just a solid enough effort to win a maiden race? Fans will pay extra attention this time with wagering money, so examining her actual ability is important.

At least she displayed good early speed, which comes in handy in juvenile stakes races. The blinkers do come off for this race, which might signal Baffert wishes for her to relax a bit more (while still showing speed).

Runner-up Union Strike looked nice on paper as a $375k daughter of Union Rags.

The fourth-place finisher, Jeweled, had a hefty price tag and Baffert behind her as well, but disappointed badly at less than even money odds a few days ago. It could be a sign American Cleopatra defeated a weaker field.

BRIS gave American Cleopatra an 86 speed rating, which is not especially dominant compared to the other fillies, although at this point in their careers, the high speed figure may not matter a whole lot. Two-year-old horses change, sometimes rapidly, and it is hard to predict which one of these youngsters will suddenly pop a super effort.

Rafael Bejarano hops on board for the first time, and should position her somewhat close. If American Cleopatra wins again, no one can deny she is a star.

Think about the other contenders too.

For instance, Miss Southern Miss starts for trainer Keith Desormeaux and owns competitive numbers. The rail position will force brother Kent Desormeaux to use her a little bit coming out of the gate.

Also consider Morganite, a $360k John Sadler-trained daughter of Gemologist and a Wild Rush mare. The filly who finished second in her debut, Champagne Room, returned to win the Sorrento Stakes (GII) three weeks later. Victor Espinoza picks up the mount.

Champagne Room does not figure to be a slouch in this spot as a graded stakes winner, and workout junkies will immediately see the Aug. 27 bullet, where she ran the quickest time out of 62 horses going four furlongs. Peter Eurton trains this Broken Vow filly, and Mario Gutierrez will ride. For what it is worth, BRIS gave her the high speed rating of 89.

American Cleopatra’s stablemate Noted and Quoted won a local Aug. 7 maiden race by over nine lengths. As a daughter of The Factor, and a $375k (just like Union Strike) purchase at a March auction, she was meant to win early. Plus, as a good sign, jockey Mike Smith elects to ride her over Union Strike.

Union Strike takes another shot in this spot as well, and will attempt to win as a maiden for the low-profile trainer Shelbe Ruis. Martin Garcia will take over as the pilot.

American Cleopatra defeated Union Strike, but remember the lesson on how 2-year-old horses change. No one knows if Union Strike can turn the tables with no warning. She might appreciate the seven furlongs.

Holy Mosey completes the field. In her case, she will require a miracle turnaround.

As a side note, Lady and the Track posted one American Cleopatra picture to Facebook after the maiden win, and it received a record number of views. If she wins a graded stakes race, the excitement will become tremendous going forward.

Just be aware of the lack of value, while acknowledging American Cleopatra can win.