Oaklawn News

American Pharoah’s Receives High Praise for His Triple Crown Victory

NBC racing analyst Randy Moss, a Hot Springs native, said during a teleconference Monday afternoon that he believes Arkansas Derby winner American Pharoah compares favorably with two other Triple Crown winners.

American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, and 12th, overall, with a wire-to-wire 5 ½-length victory in the Belmont Stakes Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park. Affirmed was the third Triple Crown winner during the 1970s, following Secretariat in 1973 and Seattle Slew in 1977.

“I think when you look back on Seattle Slew and Affirmed and you compare those horses with American Phar-oah and look at what Pharoah has done so far, at this stage of their careers, I think it’s a fair comparison,” Moss said. “I think American Pharoah deserves to be placed in the same conversation with all-time greats like Seattle Slew and Affirmed given what he just accomplished and the way that he accomplished it. He was at least as im-pressive as Seattle Slew when you look at his Triple Crown races as a whole, and maybe even more impressive.

“So the horse, I think, has just been amazing all spring long and deserved obviously a tremendous amount of credit here.”

American Pharoah received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for his Belmont victory, his seventh con-secutive since losing his career debut last summer at Del Mar. The 105 Beyer matched his previous career best set in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11 at Oaklawn and the May 2 Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in the Triple Crown. American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby by a length and was a wire-to-wire seven-length winner of the May 16 Preakness.

American Pharoah earned a 100 Beyer in winning his 3-year-old debut, the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 at Oaklawn.

American Pharoah returned Sunday to Churchill Downs, where he has been based since April 13. Owner Ahmed Zayat said American Pharoah will probably make his next start in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Zayat lives in New Jersey, and American Pharoah’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, has won the Haskell a record seven times.
Oaklawn Strong

American Pharoah became the fourth Arkansas Derby winner and fifth overall, Arkansas Derby runner to cap-ture the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of racing’s Triple Crown. Temperence Hill (1980), Victory Gallop (1998) and Afleet Alex (2005) are the only other horses to sweep the Arkansas Derby and Belmont. Summer Bird fin-ished third in the 2009 Arkansas Derby before winning the Belmont and going to on to be named champion 3-year-old that year.

American Pharoah also became the third winner of Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes – the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby – to win the Belmont. Temperence Hill and Victory Gallop won the Rebel, while Afleet Alex finished sixth.

Smarty Jones won the Rebel and Arkansas Derby and the first two legs of the Triple Crown before finishing sec-ond, beaten a length, in the 2004 Belmont.

American Pharoah is the first Oaklawn-campaigned horse to win the Triple Crown.
Cover Boy

American Pharoah’s victory in the Belmont Stakes earned the Triple Crown winner the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

American Pharoah is the first thoroughbred to appear on SI’s cover since Mind That Bird (2009 Kentucky Der-by). Smarty Jones also appeared on the cover of the SI after winning the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

American Pharoah is the third Arkansas Derby winner to land on SI’s cover, following Smarty Jones and Sun-ny’s Halo (1983 Kentucky Derby).
Finish Lines

Kiss Moon scored her biggest career victory in the $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap (G3) on the grass Saturday at Churchill Downs for four-time Oaklawn training champion David Vance.  Kiss Moon, runner-up in last year’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.94. The course record is 1:39.83. … Carve, powerful winner of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16 at Oaklawn, worked a half-mile in :49.80 Monday morning at Churchill Downs. Trainer Brad Cox said Carve is pointing for the $300,000 Prairie Mead-ows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) June 27 at Prairie Meadows. Carve won the Cornhusker last year and has $942,915 in career earnings. … Sassy Miss Sue, an unstarted 2-year-old full sister to two-time Oaklawn Azeri winner Tiz Miz Sue, worked a half-mile in :49.60 Thursday morning at Churchill Downs. Like Tiz Miz Sue, Sassy Miss Sue is owned by her breeder, Carol Ricks, and trained by Steve Hobby. … The Big Beast, a March 1 allowance winner in his 4-year-old debut, worked 5 furlongs in 1:02 Monday morning at Fair Hill and is still eying the $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3) July 4 at Belmont Park for his comeback race, owner Alex Lieblong said. The Big Beast hasn’t started since finishing fourth in the $400,000 Carter Handicap (G1) April 4 at Aqueduct.