American Pharoah has 'monster' workout, says Baffert

Fri Jun 5, 2015 9:40pm EDT
 
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By Steve Ginsburg

ELMONT, New York (Reuters) - Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert could hardly contain his elation over the final workout by Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah before Saturday's $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

"He looked like a monster out there," Baffert told reporters after the colt's gallop on Friday at Belmont Park. "I am really happy with the way he went. He's still sharp."

American Pharoah, ridden by Victor Espinoza, will take on seven rivals as he looks to become just the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1978.

The exhausting mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes is dubbed "Test of the Champion" because it is the longest of the three classic U.S. races and the final one.

Baffert knows the heartbreak, having saddled Triple Crown contenders Real Quiet, Silver Charm and War Emblem, only to come up short each time at Belmont Park -- in Real Quiet's case by mere inches.

American Pharoah, riding a six-race winning streak, won the May 2 Kentucky Derby by a length and two weeks later captured the Preakness Stakes in a runaway, winning by seven lengths in a driving rainstorm.

Baffert, who has saddled four Kentucky Derby winners, six Preakness champions and one Belmont Stakes winner, described Friday's workout as "the last hurdle" in American Pharoah's Triple regimen.

"All the work is done now," he said. "From here on, we'll try to relax a little. We need to make sure the horse is content and continues to eat well, and to stick to the same routine.   Continued...