Friday, September 04, 2015

American Pharoah to Remain in Training for the Breeders’ Cup Classic

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will continue his racing career and point for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland, owner Ahmed Zayat announced Thursday morning.

“The champ deserves another chance!” Zayat posted on his Twitter account.

Zayat said Wednesday that a decision regarding American Pharoah’s racing future was imminent following a four-hour meeting with Bob Baffert, the colt’s Hall of Fame trainer.

American Pharoah’s racing future had been in doubt after a stunning second-place finish in Saturday’s $1.6 million Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.  Immediately after the race, Zayat said his gut feeling was to retire American Pharoah rather than have his champion conclude his racing career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic before entering stud.

American Pharoah had won eight consecutive races, including the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn, before finishing second to Keen Ice in the Travers.

American Pharoah, who returned to his Southern California base Monday, won an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 2-year-old male of 2014.

Coolmore purchased the breeding rights to American Pharoah in May and will stand the colt at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
 
Trappe Set?

Set the Trappe, a 2-year-old son of Trappe Shot, will run in Monday’s $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, owner Alex Lieblong said. The colt is on the also-eligible list for a maiden race Saturday at Saratoga, but since it’s unlikely he’ll draw in, Lieblong said, the colt is headed to the 7-furlong Hopeful.

Set the Trappe, who is trained by Tony Dutrow, ran second in his Aug. 8 career debut at Saratoga and could be a candidate for Oaklawn's series of Kentucky Derby prep races in 2016.

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong were Oaklawn’s fourth-leading owners this year.
 
Honoring Team Pharoah

The connections of American Pharoah, including owner Ahmed Zayat, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza, will be presented with the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing during the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters 56th annual awards dinner Oct. 28 in Lexington, Ky.

Members of the NTWAB voted Team American Pharoah the Mr. Fitz Award after the colt became just the 12th Triple Crown winner, and first since Affirmed in 1978, in June.

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.

According to a news release Wednesday from the NTWAB,

“Zayat’s willingness to showcase the 12th Triple Crown champion whenever possible put the national spotlight on the sport and delighted fans. Baffert and Espinoza played critical roles in helping American Pharoah complete the historic sweep.”

The Mr. Fitz Award is named for the late training legend James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, who won a record 13 Triple Crown races between 1930-1957.

The record was broken in 2013 when D. Wayne Lukas saddled Oxbow to win the Preakness, the Hall of Fame trainer’s 14th Triple Crown victory.

Oxbow ran second to stablemate Will Take Charge in the $600,000 Rebel (G2) and fifth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) before winning the Preakness.

Lukas, who turned 80 Wednesday, was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1987 and 2011.

Previous Mr. Fitz Award winners include Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg (1988 honoree), Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1983-1984; Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day (2000), Oaklawn’s all-time leading rider; Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel (2007), Oaklawn’s leading rider in 1995 and 2001; and Terry Wallace (2011), Oaklawn’s track announcer from 1975-2011.
 
Finish Lines

Two-time 2015 Oaklawn stakes winner Spring Included ($100,000 Spring Fever and $100,000 Carousel) is pointing for the $300,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Sept. 12 at Kentucky Downs, owner Alex Lieblong said. … Two colts who may be seen at the 2016 Oaklawn meeting, Uncle Brennie and Tuff Red Stick, are scheduled to run in the $75,000 Sunday Silence Stakes Sept. 12 at Louisiana Downs. The Sunday Silence is a mile race on the grass for 2-year-olds. Uncle Brennie is owned by Staton Flurry of Hot Springs and trained by Brad Cox, who won 18 races to tie for third in the 2015 Oaklawn standings. Tuff Red Stick is owned by Camden, Ark.-based Tri-Star Racing and trained by Tim Glyshaw, who saddled two winners this year at Oaklawn. … Nickname, a 2-year-old Scat Daddy filly, broke her maiden by 3 ½ lengths Wednesday at Saratoga for six-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen. Nickname had run fourth behind Rachel’s Valentina, a daughter of multiple Oaklawn stakes winners and Horse of the Year winners Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, in her Aug. 2 career debut at Saratoga. Rachel’s Valentina, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, is entered in Saturday’s $350,000 Spinaway Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. Nickname was bred by Michael Hui of Little Rock, Ark., who also owns horses and had a 1-1-2 record in 14 starts at this year’s Oaklawn meeting.

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