August 4, 2019 - Del Mar, Race 5, Msw, USD $61,000, 5 1/2F, 0.0000
Eight Rings, C, 2, 2017 by Empire Maker
1st Dam: Purely Hot (GSW, $426,905), by Pure Prize
2nd Dam: Wood Not, by Kissin Kris
3rd Dam: Wood So, by Baederwood
Owner: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC, Frederick Hertrich, III, John D. Fielding & Golconda Stables
Breeder: WinStar Farm, LLC (KY)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
The powerful ownership group involved with juvenile colt Eight Rings (Empire Maker) celebrated their first win as a team Sunday as the buzzed-about Bob Baffert trainee blitzed Del Mar maiden company to become a no-brainer 'TDN Rising Star'. A $520,000 Keeneland September yearling, the dark bay prepped for this with a bullet five-furlong drill from the gate in 1:00 flat here July 25 in company with unraced Garth (Into Mischief--Country Star) (Click for XBTV Video) and was crushed down to 3-5 favoritism despite the presence of several other well-bred and pricey newcomers. Pushed on early by pilot Drayden Van Dyke to take a narrow advantage, Eight Rings was hung out three deep as two foes sped up to his inside to share pacesetting duties through a :21.83 opening quarter. The favorite dispatched with those foes with eye-catching ease around the bend, however, got the half in :45.41 and ran up the score from there to the tune of 6 1/4 lengths. He stopped the clock in 1:03.68. Express Train (Union Rags), himself a $500,000 KEESEP grad, was 9 1/4 lengths clear of third finisher and $300,000 OBSAPR buy Shooters Shoot (Competitive Edge) in third.
Â Eight Rings is a son of Purely Hot (Pure Prize), who at one point had been claimed for $4,000, but blossomed at ages five and six to become a graded winner in the 2014 GIII Whimsical S. sprinting over the Woodbine all-weather. A granddaughter herself of MGSW Wood So (Baederwood), Purely Hot has a yearling colt by Tourist and a filly foal by Pioneerof the Nile. She was bred back to Union Rags for 2020.
Â Eight Rings is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Fred Hertrich III, John Fielding and Ben Goldberg and Elliott Friman's Golconda Stables. Led by SF and Starlight--co-owners of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify (Scat Daddy)--the group made an even bigger splash than usual at last year's yearling sales when they invested $11,430,000 to secure 24 Classic-leaning colts with the plan to send them all to Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, eyeing stallion-making events like the Triple Crown races.
Â "When we bought him as a yearling, we were excited, and Eddie Woods, who broke the horse, said he didn't turn a hair all winter," said SF's Tom Ryan Sunday evening from Saratoga on the eve of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. "He was one of the first horses shipped out to California this spring and has trained like a good horse since then. They've still got to show up in the afternoons, but he looks like he really enjoys his job."
Â As for what the buying group liked about the colt last September, Ryan said, "There was consensus across the board on him. Bob loved him, [agent] Donato [Lanni] loved him, [Newgate Farm's] Henry Field loved the horse and so did [Starlight's] Frankie Brothers. Every time we went back to see him, he put his head down, moved well. He's got a beautiful head, neck and shoulder and he's very balanced."
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