The 6-year-old Indian Charlie gelding got shuffled back on the final turn and then hooked up with a tough rival in Limousine Liberal after digging deep with a mid-stretch rally, but even that fellow speedster could not stand in the way of A. P. Indian's fourth straight graded stakes victory, earned by a determined head.
The final time of 1:08.43 in the six-furlong test broke the track record of 1:08.58 established by 2015 champion sprinter Runhappy in last year's TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). Thanks to his Phoenix win, A. P. Indian is headed to this year's Sprint at Santa Anita Park with an expenses-paid berth as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" program.
"He's just been a champion all along, ever since the first time I've seen him," jockey Joe Bravo said. "He broke away from the gate so sharply. It's hard to keep going all the way, but that's what makes this horse so special. He breathes, he relaxes.
"The whole Delacour team did a tremendous job of bringing him around. To be six years old and still doing it like a champion and to break a track record today, hey, I take my hat off to him. The horse that run second, Limousine Liberal, that's a runner. Wasn't like we were out there against nothing. (A. P. Indian) showed his true colors today."
A. P. Indian, bred in Kentucky out of the A. P. Indy mare Ender's Sister, came off a stakes-record victory (seven furlongs in 1:20.99) in the Aug. 27 Forego Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, his second consecutive grade I after taking the July 30 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (gr. I) at the Spa. His other graded stakes score came in the Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes (gr. III), won off a title defense June 18 in the Donald LeVine Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing. He was also placed first in the Decathlon Stakes at Monmouth Park in his season debut in May, after finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind Delta Bluesman, who was disqualified and placed last for interference on the backstretch.
In the Phoenix, the East Coast's premiere sprinter stalked the pace set by The Great War, who put up opening fractions of :22.35 and :44.94. He shifted into the four path entering the lane, and made a bid three wide as five-eighths went in :56.47.
"I was worried since the three-eighths pole when he got shuffled back," Delacour said. "I knew it was going to be tough to make up ground. The horse who finished second likes this track. So I knew it was going to be tough to get it done. He did a great job."
A. P. Indian returned $2.80, $2.20, and $2.10 as the 2-5 choice. Limousine Liberal paid $4 and $3 at 6-1. Ami's Flatter returned $2.60.