Triple Crown winner 'looks great' before trip to Saratoga
Aug. 24, 2015
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Bob Baffert says American Pharoah "looks great" two days before the Triple Crown winner is scheduled to leave California for Saratoga Race Course and run in Saturday's Travers Stakes.
The trainer spoke Monday from Del Mar Racetrack, where American Pharoah put in a convincing workout a day earlier that proved to Baffert the colt is ready for the 1¼-mile "Mid-Summer Derby."
The Hall of Famer also says American Pharoah "got new shoes today" and called them "his new Nikes."
On Sunday, owner Ahmed Zayat confirmed American Pharoah would run in the Spa's showcase race. The horse travels to the Spa on Wednesday, and Baffert arrives Thursday.
"We're getting real excited about it. It's going to be fun," Baffert said. "He's doing well, and we just loved the way he worked. It's pretty amazing the way he's just held his form, and he looks great."
American Pharoah won the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey, on Aug. 2 in his first race back after sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. He is the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, and looks to become only the second Triple Crown winner to go on and take the Travers.
The post-position draw is Tuesday night, with a large field lining up to challenge the son of Pioneerof the Nile. Among them are Jim Dandy winner Texas Red, Haskell runner-up Keen Ice and Belmont runner-up Frosted.
Baffert won the 2001 Travers with Preakness and Belmont winner Point Given, but is 1 for 5 overall. The ride with American Pharoah, though, has him feeling confident about a second Travers win.
"It's been very exciting for all of us," he said. "He's brought the Zayat family and us to just a different level. I never thought I'd get to this level of racing. You're always hoping. I was always hoping for a horse like this in a lifetime, so I'm just very fortunate that he came along, and we have him."
If American Pharoah starts, the Travers purse increases by $350,000 to $1.6 million. New York racing officials capped the crowd at 50,000 and tickets are sold out.
Officials are advising those who plan to attend to arrive early and expect long lines. Post time for the Travers is 5:46 p.m.
Also, American Pharoah and the other Travers horses will have exclusive use of the main track on Friday morning from 8:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. There is no admission charge for fans choosing to attend.