American Pharoah works out in morning showers at Churchill
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) American Pharoah let morning showers roll right off him at Churchill Downs in his final workout before the Belmont Stakes and his shot at the Triple Crown.
Trainer Bob Baffert said Monday that ''everything went really well'' after his colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20.
Jockey Martin Garcia took full advantage of a fast track barely affected by the steady drizzle. The colt looked just as fresh during his bath afterward.
''I was worried about the rain, but the track was in perfect shape,'' Baffert added. ''It seemed to let up a little bit when he worked. It went just as we thought.''
American Pharoah can become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to capture the Triple Crown. Victor Espinoza will have the mount, with American Pharoah aiming to become the 12th to complete the sweep.
The horse leaves Churchill Downs on Tuesday, headed to New York for Saturday's final leg of the Triple Crown. American Pharoah is coming off a seven-length victory in the Preakness nearly three weeks ago after his one-length win in the Kentucky Derby.
American Pharoah's performance Monday on a cool, wet morning was no surprise considering his Preakness romp in the slop at Pimlico.
Two of his wins have come in the muck, though he didn't seem to track anything back to Baffert's Barn 33 after his work before several hundred soggy observers on the backside and in the grandstands.
Churchill Downs has provided a comfort zone for the 3-year-old. Less than a week after breezing four furlongs in :48, American Pharoah added another solid work at the storied track, with splits of :13, :25, :36.60 and :48.60. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13, seven furlongs in 1:26 and a mile in 1:39.60.
''He just kept on clicking right along, so I was really happy with that,'' Baffert said. ''Now we just play the waiting game. We'll ship out tomorrow morning and hope everything goes well when we go to the Big Apple.''
Baffert arrived in Louisville on Saturday night and awaiting him and American Pharoah in New York is a demanding test: the 1 1/2-mile Belmont - the longest of the Triple Crown races - and a field of well-rested rivals.
The list was reduced to eight on Monday after trainer Todd Pletcher announced that Blue Grass Stakes winner Carpe Diem would not run; trainer Ken McPeek also withdrew The Truth or Else.
Baffert is no stranger to the Triple Crown spotlight. The Hall of Fame trainer has been one win away before, and he expects the spectacle to be no different from what he faced with War Emblem (2002), Real Quiet (1998) and Silver Charm (1997).
''I know what I'm walking into,'' Baffert said. ''It's going to be pretty crazy. ... One thing about the horse, we know what to expect. We're not going to be overwhelmed by it because we're used to the big show.''