Riff Rocket (American Pharoah) wins the Gr.1 Australian Derby at Randwick

Second Consecutive G1 For American Pharoah Son

A two week turnaround wasn’t a problem for American Pharoah’s Riff Rocket (3g American Pharoah x Missile Coda, by Smart Missile) when the gelding won his second straight Group I victory in the Australian Derby at Randwick on Saturday.

Coming into the race off a victory in the Group I Rosehill Guineas last out, the gelding returned to 1 1/2 miles and proved the stretch back out from was no problem.

Racing closer to the rail in third turning into the turn, he angled out a few paths to have clear running room in the stretch. Finding a hole, Riff Rocket marched to the front and continued rolling to the line.

The gelding had to hold off a determined run from the late closing Ceolwulf, who also finished second behind him last out, but was nearly half a length in front as they crossed the wire.

This is the third Group I win of the Australian season for the American Pharoah son, who also won the Group I Victoria Derby in November. In all, the gelding is the winner of seven of 11 starts with three other top three finishes for over AU$3.5 million in earnings.

The homebred for Debbie Kepitis and her family also provided trainer Chris Waller with his first win in this race.

“It’s pretty special, simple as that, and these guys (owner Debbie Kepitis and the Ingham family) were here before I had the first Group I winner so it’s fitting,” Waller said. “I don’t cry as much as I used to but this one’s pretty special. He’s done a great job, he’s an amazing horse, he puts himself into the race at the right time.”

Riff Rocket was foaled, raised, and pre-trained at Coolmore and is the first winner from two to race out of Missile Coda. Hailing from the family of multiple group winner Rain Affair, Missile Coda herself was stakes placed.

She visited Coolmore Australia stallion Home Affairs last year.

American Pharoah has six stakes winners in three different countries this year with three graded stakes winners in three different countries.