American Pharoah completes final pre-Kentucky Derby workout
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) American Pharoah put in his final workout before the Kentucky Derby, and trainer Bob Baffert says his colt is quite comfortable with the track at Churchill Downs.
The likely favorite for the Derby worked five furlongs in 58.40 seconds under Martin Garcia on Sunday. Looking on was Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who arrived from California to supervise, and owner Ahmed Zayat.
The colt has been in Louisville since April 13 after winning the Arkansas Derby by eight lengths.
Baffert says American Pharoah handled his lone workout on the dirt strip well and he looks great.
''He was doing it in hand, but that's the way he works,'' Baffert said of the move, the fastest of 32 at the distance. ''That's how he works in California. He just does things really effortlessly.''
American Pharoah takes a four-race winning streak into the Derby. He's won those races by a combined 22 1/4 lengths, all under Victor Espinoza, who will be aboard in the Derby.
Baffert now waits for Wednesday's post-position draw that he called ''probably the last stressful moment that we have.'' He compared his Derby week anxiety to a space launch with onlookers waiting for each booster rocket to fall away in stages, but the three-time Derby winner clearly felt comfortable with his horse's position entering the race.
''He still needs racing luck,'' Baffert said of American Pharoah. ''You have to get a decent post. You need to break well and get the trip. A lot can happen, so I don't really take anything for granted.''
Baffert will also saddle another top Derby contender in Dortmund, who arrived at Churchill Downs early Sunday afternoon. Two other California-based runners, Firing Line and Bolo, joined the Santa Anita Derby winner on the flight to Louisville.
American Pharoah, last year's 2-year-old champion, is one of three Derby horses racing for Zayat Stables with different trainers. Zayat finished second in the Derby three times in a four-year span, most recently with Baffert trainee Bodemeister in 2012; but he said he's focused on forward-looking positive thoughts in trying to win the world's most prestigious race.
''It's a dream,'' said Zayat, who will also run El Kabeir and Mr. Z and trained by John Terranova and D. Wayne Lukas, respectively.
''When you say you want to live the dream, we're living it right now. I don't want to wake up.''
AP Racing Writer Beth Harris contributed to this report.