Duel Classic Winner American Pharoah Works toward Belmont

American Pharoah took another step toward his bid to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner with a sparkling half-mile work Tuesday at Churchill Downs.

The Arkansas Derby and Rebel winner cruised home in :48 under no urging from regular workout partner Martin Garcia, who flew in from California to breeze the colt during the special 15-minute window (7:30 a.m.-7:45 a.m., Central) set aside for horses running in the Belmont Stakes June 6 at Belmont Park.

“He was pretty spectacular out there,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who also flew in from California for the work.

American Pharoah, his ears pricked throughout the work, covered his first quarter-mile in :24 and 3 furlongs in :35.80. He galloped out 5 furlongs in 1:00.40 and 6 furlongs in 1:13.20 over a fast-rated surface.

Tuesday’s work was the first for American Pharoah since a 5-furlong bullet (:58.40) April 26 at Churchill Downs. American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby six days later and was a seven-length winner of the Preakness May 16. He is scheduled to work again Sunday or Monday at Churchill Downs before shipping to New York June 2.

“I really like the way he went today,” Baffert said. “He showed like he had a lot of energy. When he hit the track, I was on the radio talking to Martin and he really liked the way he felt and he just took off going really easily. I told Martin to just let him keep going. I really liked the way he went.

“We’re just going to stay focused, keep the weight on him and keep him happy like the way he looks today. Next week, we’ll do sort of the same thing with him – just cruise him around real easily, ship to New York and we won’t do much with him up there.”

American Pharoah was a runaway winner of Oaklawn’s two biggest Triple Crown prep races, the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11.

In addition to American Pharoah, two other Oaklawn-raced horses, Madefromlucky and Conquest Curlinate, are expected to compete in the 1 ½-mile Belmont. Madefromlucky finished second in the Rebel and fourth in the Arkansas Derby. Conquest Curlinate broke his maiden Jan. 31 at Oaklawn before finishing second in the $400,000 Illinois Derby (G3) April 18 at Hawthorne and second to Madefromlucky in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G2) May 9 at Belmont Park. Conquest Curlinate is being supplemented to the Belmont for $75,000 because he wasn’t a Triple Crown nominee.

Madefromlucky worked a bullet 5 furlongs (:59.01) Friday morning at Belmont Park. Conquest Curlinate worked 5 furlongs in :59.80 Friday morning at Churchill Downs.

Court’s Journey

Jon Court, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2000, was awarded the 2015 Mike Venezia Memorial Award Monday at Belmont Park. The award honors jockey Mike Venezia, who was killed in a 1988 racing accident at Belmont. It is given annually to jockeys who exemplify sportsmanship and citizenship.

Court, 54, has ridden 3,882 winners in North America, according to Equibase, and his mounts have earned $94,540,442. He won consecutive runnings of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in 2010 and 2011 aboard Line of David and Archarcharch, the latter for his father-in-law, trainer Jinks Fires.

Court also received the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2007. The award is given annually to riders who demonstrate high character on and off the track.

Court rode 12 winners at this year’s Oaklawn meet.
 
All Accounted For

All eight starters in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) have now made at least one start since the April 11 race at Oaklawn.

The final horse to run, last-place finisher Bridget’s Big Luvy, ran fourth in Saturday’s $100,000 Paradise Creek Stakes at Belmont Park.

Arkansas Derby winner American Pharoah has come back to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness; runner-up Far Right finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby; Mr. Z (third) ran 13th in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness; Madefromlucky (fourth) won the Peter Pan Stakes a; Bold Conquest (fifth) was second in the Sir Barton Stakes; Win the Space (sixth) was fifth in the Desert Code Stakes and sixth in a maiden race; and The Truth Or Else (seventh) ran fifth in the Pat Day Mile and won an allowance/optional claimer Friday at Belmont Park.

American Pharoah will now seek to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes where among his nine expected competitors will be Madefromlucky. Far Right, winner of Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones and Southwest Stakes, is being pointed toward another Derby, either the Ohio (June 20), Iowa (June 27) or Indiana (July 19) Derby. Mr. Z is being rested for a summer campaign.
 
Inching Closer

Carve moved closer to $1 million in career earnings following his runner-up finish in Monday’s $200,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) at Lone Star. He earned $38,000 Monday to push his career bankroll to $942,915 for owner Mike Langford of Jonesboro, Ark., who claimed the 5-year-old gelding out of a 2013 career debut victory at Oaklawn for $30,000.

Carve has earned $439,100 in Hot Springs, with a 4-1-2 record from nine starts. Trained by Brad Cox, he won the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16 and ran second in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11.

Carve, as the 4-5 favorite, was beaten two lengths by Majestic City in the Lone Star Park Handicap. Tapiture finished 1 1 ½ lengths farther back in third under three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Tapiture won Oaklawn’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) last year and was exiting a third-place finish in the Oaklawn Handicap.
 
Driving to Victory

Riding First Class, in her third career start, broke her maiden for a $50,000 claiming tag in Friday’s first race at Churchill Downs to give trainer Brad Cox his first victory for prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers.

Cox, Oaklawn’s co-third leading trainer this year with 18 victories, began training for Landers in late March after the owner moved 11 horses he previously had with trainer Cody Autrey.

Landers was Oaklawn’s fourth-leading owner in 2014 with 11 victories, but was 0 for 18 at this year’s meeting.

Riding First Class, a 3-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, was a $130,000 purchase by Landers last June. She trained at Oaklawn, but didn’t run at the meeting. She was making her second start for Cox.

Cox said he was also scheduled to receive eight 2-year-olds owned by Landers
 
Finish Lines

Wolf Man Rocket, winner of the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes April 11 at Oaklawn, worked a bullet half-mile (:47.60) Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. Stablemate American Pharoah had the fifth-fastest time for the distance (:48). … Champion Untapable worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.86 Monday morning at Belmont Park in preparation for the $1 million Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1) there June 6. Untapable won the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 10 at Oaklawn in her last start. … Apple Blossom runner-up Diva’s Diamond won Monday’s $50,000 Wild Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows. … Street Story, a multiple stakes winner at Oaklawn, won Monday’s $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. Multiple Oaklawn winner Heykittykittykitty finished second and Spring Included, another multiple stakes winner at Oaklawn, finished third. … Oaklawn maiden winner Tappin Vegas finished second in Saturday’s $50,000 Western Canada Handicap at Northlands Park. … For Greater Glory, a March 12 allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn, ran second in Saturday’s $100,000 Louisville Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs. … Yucca, a Jan. 16 allowance/optional claiming winner at Oaklawn, won Saturday’s $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows. … Three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. resumed riding Monday after serving a five-day suspension for a riding infraction April 28 at Churchill Downs.

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