LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was “on target” in his Breeders’ Cup Classic preparation after completing his toughest workout since finishing a shocking second in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August.
The 3-year-old has been working out at his home track in California for longer than initially expected because of cold, wet weather over the past week in Kentucky, where he is set to end his stellar career at this month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“He went really well,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, 62, told reporters after American Pharoah had worked seven furlongs in 1:23 flat before galloping out a mile in a rapid 1:35.40 at the Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, California on Wednesday.
”We wanted to get a strong work out of him and it looks like he handled it really well.
“He’s reaching, running (and he) looked like he came back happy, so we’re right on target. We put a horse out there in front of him ... Madam Aamoura ... he needed a target.”
With Martin Garcia in the saddle, American Pharoah galloped straight off from the quarter mile chute and was set down approaching the five-furlong pole, well behind stablemate Madam Aamoura, a 3-year-old filly.
American Pharoah then zipped through splits of 12.20, 24.00, 35.00, 47.00, 59.80 and 1:11.40.
”This is the first time since the Aug. 29 Travers that he’s let this horse roll,“ said highly respected private clocker Gary Young. ”The previous works here were maintenance works.
“This was serious. He started out about seven lengths behind the target and he went by the target like a freight train by a hobo at the three sixteenths. He looked good throughout.”
Baffert had initially planned to ship American Pharoah to Kentucky well ahead of the Oct. 31 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run at Keeneland in Lexington.
However, uncertain weather in the Bluegrass State caused Baffert to keep his prized colt in Arcadia “until the 25th or 27th (of October),” the trainer said.
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.
After making his farewell racing performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the muscular son of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneer of the Nile will then retire to stud.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue