Corniche certainly ran to his $1.5 million purchase price at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s Spring Sale earlier this year, remaining undefeated in the initial two starts of his career with a scintillating score in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Oct. 1.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Corniche, fresh off a dominating 4 ½-length win in his career debut on Sept. 4 at Del Mar, dispatched stablemate Rockefeller at the quarter-pole in the American Pharoah and won in-hand by 3 ¼ lengths. He covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.75 for trainer Bob Baffert and owner Speedway Stables (Peter Fluor). The win earned Corniche a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar.
By Quality Road, Corniche is produced from the Najran mare Wasted Tears. Bart Evans and Stonehaven Steadings bred the handsome bay colt in Kentucky. With the victory, he added $180,000 to his coffers, raising his bankroll to $222,000.
“There’s just so much upside to this horse,” said Mike Smith. “This is what’s really exciting about him. When he broke his maiden as impressive as he did, he just gave me that feeling that we weren’t even close to his full potential. He’s a big colt and he carries a lot of flesh. As he starts to get even fitter and harder inside, he’s gonna be a force to reckon with.
“That’s what makes a good horse, a great horse, a champion, so to speak,” Smith continued. “Not only do they have the speed and the stamina, but they have the mind to go with it, and he’s an extremely intelligent horse. He aims to please. I’m just excited about the upside to him. I think there is a whole lot there.”
Baffert added, “You never know until you send them two turns whether they’ll be able to handle it or not, and it looked like he handled it pretty well. He’s got a great mind, so I’m pretty happy about that.”