American Pharoah is the early Classic favorite

Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:50pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has been installed as the early 6-5 favorite and will break from the fourth post for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic in Kentucky on Saturday in his hugely anticipated racing farewell.

The Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old will be looking to cap his stellar career with a ninth win in 11 starts, having finished a shocking second in his most recent outing -- in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August.

"We were 50-50 as to whether or not we were going to run in that race," Baffert told reporters about the Travers Stakes. "Unfortunately, he didn't really run his race and coming out of it, I could tell everything ... had kind of taken its toll.

"He needed the 60 days (preparing for this week's Classic). This horse, he runs well fresh."

According to Baffert, American Pharoah has displayed very impressive form in recent weeks while working out at his home track in California before being shipped to Kentucky on Tuesday.

"Sometimes I get a bit excited, the way he does things so easily. He looked fantastic (in training) and I really feel good about the way he's coming into this race," said Baffert.

American Pharoah entered the pantheon of U.S. thoroughbred racing's all-time greats by winning the Belmont Stakes wire-to-wire in June to become the first horse to capture the coveted 'Triple Crown' in nearly four decades.

In winning a seventh straight race, American Pharoah became the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.   Continued...

Jockey Victor Espinoza, aboard American Pharoah, rides after winning the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes as well as the Triple Crown, in Elmont, New York June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson