Under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner American Pharoah galloped a mile-and-a-half over the Churchill Downs main track Sunday morning as he prepares to become horse racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner Saturday in the Belmont Stakes.
The 3-year-old colt is scheduled to put in his final workout for the race on Monday morning at the Louisville track before boarding a plane and flying to New York Tuesday.
“He looks very healthy and he’s happy, he looks like he’s getting ready to work,” said the 62-year-old Baffert. “He knows that he’s getting close to a work so it’s getting pretty tough on him. When he hit the quarter pole, he [exercise rider JorgeAlvarez] said he wanted to take off so he’ll breeze (Monday) at 8:30 during thebreak. We’ll probably leave at the half-mile pole sort of like we did last week, and that should be it for him.”
This will be American Pharoah’s second workout since his seven-length victory in the May 16 Preakness. His most recent breeze was a half-mile in :48 on May 26.
“I didn’t want to wait two weeks to work him [after the Preakness] because after the Arkansas Derby when I worked him, he was a little too fresh,” Baffert said. “He was going faster than we wanted him to. This last week, he was more controllable, which is where we want him a little bit. We don’t want him to go too fast early; we want him to get into that nice, fast cruising stride that he has. When he gets his ears forward and he’s enjoying it and springing around there like a big kangaroo – we want to see that.”
This will be Baffert’s record fourth attempt at capturing the Triple Crown and his first since 2002, when War Emblem failed in the Belmont Stakes.
“I’m more relaxed and I’ve gotten older so I’ve mellowed out a lot,” Baffert said. “I feel pretty confident the way this horse is coming into it, how he needs to train, getting ready for it. Once I hear the song ‘New York, New York,’ that’s like our two minute warning; that means it’s close. Once I hear that song I start feeling excited, it kind of livens it up a bit, just like when they play ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ … youknow it’s coming.”
American Pharoah is scheduled to leave Louisville on an 11:30 a.m. flight.
– With a Triple Crown on the line and an attendance capped at 90,000, there are still some tickets available at Belmont Park. “We anticipate that Belmont Stakes Day tickets will be sold out prior to June 6, but in the event that we are not, fans are reminded that no tickets will be sold at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day. Any available ticket inventory will be available solely through Ticketmaster,” said Christopher Kay, Chief Executive Officer and President of the New York Racing Association. “With this in mind, we strongly encourage all fans to purchase their tickets in advance and secure their place at Belmont Park as American Pharoah prepares to meet his date with horse racing immortality on June 6.” General admission for the Belmont Grandstand is $ 15 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
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