Wednesday, September 02, 2015

American Pharoah Returns to Home Base

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah returned to his Southern California base Monday, approximately 48 hours after his stunning second-place finish in the $1.6 million Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. He was beaten three-quarters of length by Keen Ice in the 1 ¼-mile Travers, snapping his eight-race losing streak.

Immediately after the race, owner Ahmed Zayat said his gut feeling is to retire American Pharoah rather than having his champion close his racing career in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland before entering stud.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said American Pharoah came out of the Travers in good shape, adding Zayat would have the final say about whether the colt would continue his racing career.

“Mr Zayat is a very emotional man,” said Baffert. “We were all pretty disappointed. We were like in shock. We were surprised he got beat. We weren't really prepared for a losing speech. When we hit it, it was like, we've just got to get through this. Basically, we'll let the horse tell us what he's doing. I really don't know what the thought is. I know [Zayat will] be going back and forth. He brought him up here. You really have to thank him. He want-ed to share him. He's a sportsman for bringing him up here and sharing him with Saratoga. He did it for racing, and it didn't work out. The horse was just valiant in defeat and he was trying so hard. He was empty, empty, at the top of the stretch and he was still trying to win. I still thought there was a chance.”

American Pharoah made his first two starts this year at Oaklawn, winning the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11.

Temperence Hill (1980) is the only Arkansas Derby winner to capture the Travers.

Travers undercard

Like American Pharoah, several Oaklawn runners failed to win Saturday at Saratoga, but still made good showings. Champion Untapable suffered her third consecutive loss in the $750,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (G1), fin-ishing third in the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares. Last year’s Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly hasn’t won since the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 10 at Oaklawn. Stopchargingmaria, fourth in last year’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn, finished fourth in the Personal Ensign.

Sarah Sis and Street Story finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the $500,000 Ballerina Stakes (G1) for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs. Sarah Sis won Oaklawn’s $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7. Street Story won Oaklawn’s $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $100,000 Instant Racing Stakes in 2014.

Holy Boss finished third in the $500,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) at 7 furlongs. Holy Boss, who was ridden by three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., was a two-time winner at this year’s Oaklawn meeting (March 19 entry-level allowance/optional claimer and the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes April 10).

The Big Beast, a March 1 allowance winner at Oaklawn, finished second in the Forego, his second straight run-ner-up finish since returning to the races after a brief freshening.  

Back to Work

Alsvid and Gentlemen’s Bet, two of the top sprinters at this year’s Oaklawn meet, returned to the work tab last week in preparation for a return to racing this fall.

Alsvid, winner of the $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 9, breezed a half-mile in :52.80 Wednesday at Churchill Downs for Chris Hartman, Oaklawn’s leading trainer this year. He hasn’t started since finishing fifth in the $250,000 Smile Sprint Stakes (G2) July 5 at Gulfstream Park.

Gentlemen’s Bet, who won the $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes March 7, breezed a half-mile in :50.20 Saturday at Churchill Downs for trainer Ron Moquett. He hasn’t started since finishing fifth to Alsvid in the $100,000 Aris-tides Stakes (G3) May 30 at Churchill Downs.

Alsvid and Gentlemen’s Bet are pointing for the $250,000 Phoenix Stakes (G2) Oct. 2 at Keeneland, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event.

The Phoenix is a major prep for the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland.

Count Fleet runner-up Ivan Fallunovalot is under consideration for the Phoenix, trainer Tom Howard said.
 
Finish Lines

Sugar Shock, in her turf debut, finished fifth in Sunday’s $100,000 Smart N Fancy Stakes at Saratoga, her fifth consecutive loss since winning the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes Jan. 24 at Oaklawn. Sugar Shock won the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) last year at Oaklawn. … Hebbronville, who wintered at Oaklawn, was a nose winner of a $100,000 allowance sprint Sunday at Parx for trainer Lynn Whiting. Hebbronville ran sixth in Oak-lawn’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, third in the $100,000 Gazebo Stakes and third in the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes this year at Oaklawn. Smarty Jones runner-up Bayerd finished second in the Parx allowance sprint, his first start since finishing fourth in the Bachelor April 10. ... Promise Me Silver worked a bullet half-mile (:46.46) last Friday at Saratoga in preparation for Sunday’s $300,000 Prioress Stakes (G2) at Saratoga. Promise Me Silver, who won the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and the $100,000 Instant Racing Stakes this year at Oak-lawn, is among 14 3-year-old fillies nominated to the 6-furlong Prioress. … Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lu-kas turns 80 Wednesday. Lukas was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1987 and 2011. … Night School, the racing industry’s national online fan education and player development program since 2011, offers a unique history lesson and celebration “D. Wayne at 80” on Tuesday from 7:30-9:30 p.m. CST. The multi-media event highlights the life and career of D. Wayne Lukas on the eve of the legendary trainer’s 80th birthday. A video preview can be found here: https://youtu.be/O1fVWuRY97M. Fans can also visit www.horseplayernow.com/legends.