Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Arkansas Derby Winner American Pharoah Arrives in New York for Belmont

After being stabled in California, Arkansas, Kentucky and Maryland this year, American Pharoah is now in New York for his date with history in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. The 2014 Champion 2-year-old, who is trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, arrived at Belmont Park early Tuesday afternoon following a near-two-hour flight from Louisville, Ky.

American Pharoah had been based at Churchill Downs since April 13, arriving two days after his eight-length victory in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn.

American Pharoah completed final major preparations for the Belmont by working 5 furlongs in 1:00.20 Monday morning at Churchill Downs under jockey Martin Garcia, who regularly breezes the Arkansas Derby winner. He breezed with light rain falling and temperatures in the upper 50s during the special 15-minute window (7:30 a.m.-7:45 a.m., Central) set aside for horses running in the Belmont Stakes. The surface was rated fast.

“I was worried about the rain a little bit, but the track was in perfect shape,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who flew in from California for the work. “He went around there really nice and it sort of let up a little bit when he worked, so it went just as we thought. He just kept on clicking right along and so now we just play the waiting game.”

American Pharoah recorded splits of :13, :25, :36.60 and :48.60 before galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13, 7 furlongs in 1:26 and a mile in 1:39.60.

The 1 ½-mile Belmont will be American Pharoah’s fifth start this year. In addition to the Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness, American Pharoah won the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 at Oaklawn.

“The vibe here with this horse has been just to enjoy him,” Baffert said. “They don’t come around very often so try not to get in his way, prepare him the best we can and get him into position to win.”
 
Eight is Enough

It appears American Pharoah will have seven challengers in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes after Carpe Diem and The Truth Or Else were withdrawn from consideration Monday morning.

American Pharoah, who will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, is trying to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, and first since Affirmed in 1978.

Also scheduled to be entered Wednesday are Frammento (Mike Smith to ride), Frosted (Joel Rosario), Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux), Madefromlucky (Javier Castellano), Materiality (John Velazquez), Mubtaahij (Irad Ortiz) and Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens).

Carpe Diem (not 100 percent physically) and The Truth Or Else (ankle) won’t be entered in the 1 ½-mile race.

The Truth Or Else wintered in Hot Springs and ran second in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G2) Feb. 22, fourth in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and seventh in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11, the latter two races won in runaway fashion by American Pharoah.

Madefromlucky ran second in the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby before winning the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) May 9.
 
Three in a Row

Alsvid received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 96 for his two-length victory over reigning male sprint champion Work All Week in Saturday’s $100,000 Aristides Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.

The Aristides was the third consecutive victory for Alsvid, who captured the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9 at Oaklawn in his previous start.

Alsvid also moved closer to $1 million in career earnings Saturday. The 6-year-old Officer gelding has bankrolled $994,225 with a 13-7-3 record from 30 lifetime starts. He is trained by Chris Hartman, who won 34 races this year at Oaklawn to top the standings for the first time.

Work All Week won Oaklawn’s $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes in 2014. This year’s winner, Gentlemen’s Bet, ran fifth in the Aristides.
 
Golden Performance

Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Golden Lad earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 99 for his five-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Mountainview Handicap at Penn National.

Golden Lad was coming off a fourth-place finish in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11. He won Oaklawn’s $200,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) in 2014 and the track’s $100,000 Essex Handicap Feb. 14.

Golden Lad became the first starter from the 2015 Oaklawn Handicap to come back and win. The nine starters had been a combined 0 for 8, including Hard Aces and Sammy Mandeville, who ran third and fifth, respectively, in Saturday’s $200,000 Californian Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.

Hard Aces and Sammy Mandeville finished sixth and ninth, respectively, in the Oaklawn Handicap.

The only Oaklawn Handicap starter yet to run back is Race Day, who earned a career-high 110 Beyer Speed Figure for his 3 ¾-length victory.

Race Day had been consideration for Saturday’s $1.25 Met Mile (G1) at Belmont Park and the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) June 13 at Churchill Downs, but hasn’t worked since May 3 because of a minor setback, owner Matt Schera said.

Race Day and Golden Lad are both trained by Todd Pletcher.
 
Finish Lines

Sarah Sis, winner of the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7 at Oaklawn, won the $75,000 Panthers Stakes Saturday at Prairie Meadows. Sugar Shock (stretch interference) was disqualified from a victory in last year’s Honeybee before winning the Panthers. … Hillbilly Royalty, who ran in the Rebel and was second in the Northern Spur, topped an Oaklawn superfecta in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Mile. He was followed by Paid Admission, Allied Air Raid and A M Milky Way. ... Weast Hill, a sharp winner of the $75,000 Rainbow Stakes March 29 at Oaklawn, easily captured an entry-level allowance sprint Sunday at Prairie Meadows. The gelding has won 3 of 4 lifetime starts, including his Feb. 26 career debut at Oaklawn. … Super Saks, a sparkling Jan. 30 maiden winner at Oaklawn, was a front-running allowance winner of her turf debut Saturday at Churchill Downs. She snapped a four-race losing streak in the 5-furlong race.


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