Few horses in recent years have generated as much buzz before ever competing in a race as American Cleopatra, who will debut July 31 in the third race at Del Mar.
There were, of course, many other much-anticipated debuts in recent years. Given the availability of images, updates, and video via social media, some horses became stars long before their names ever were printed in a program. The foals out of Horse of the Year Zenyatta and her fellow Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, especially their first runners, Cozmic One and Jess's Dream, respectively, were well-known before their first race—as were 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's full siblings.
But as the full sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah , American Cleopatra certainly qualifies as a unique racing prospect.
Like American Pharoah, she was bred by Zayat Stables and her sire is Zayat Stables' homebred multiple grade I winner Pioneerof the Nile , runner-up in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Both American Pharoah and American Cleopatra were produced by the Yankee Gentleman mare Littleprincessemma.
American Cleopatra will be Littleprincessemma's third foal to race. She has shown hints of her ability in morning workouts for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, after registering her first published move June 17 at Santa Anita Park. American Cleopatra covered three-eighths of a mile in :35 3/5 that day, a very good time for a 2-year-old's first workout.
"She's pretty quick," Baffert said at the time. "She's got a nice stride, and she's not as big as Pharoah—not as tall. She's made a little bit differently, but she's strong."
American Cleopatra has had six more published workouts since, three at Santa Anita and three at Del Mar. She's worked out of the starting gate three times, including her first time out of the gate at Santa Anita July 6 and a six-furlong drill July 21 at Del Mar.
Other sports have top prospects and first-round draft picks whose career debuts fans eagerly await. On Sunday, horse racing fans across the country will tune in to see our latest most-anticipated prospect.
That's the beauty of sports. There's always plenty of talent in the pipeline. In horse racing especially, every new crop of runners is cause to dream. For some horses, we just dream a little bigger.