Churchill Downs Offers Special Training Period For American Pharoah, Belmont Horses; Public Invited

May 24, 2015 Ryan Martin and Darren Rogers

With Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah and three other Belmont Stakes contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs Racetrack will offer a special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for those horses starting on Monday. Additionally, area horse racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility, including the new Courtyard area, free of charge.

Churchill Downs Racetrack will open its Gate 17 entrance between 8-9 a.m. each morning through Tuesday, June 2 so the public can watch Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah along with rivals Conquest Curlinate, Keen Ice and War Story prepare for the 1 ½-mile third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown – the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 6.

Churchill Downs’ concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.

Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday, June 2. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse’s name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.

“Our switchboard has received a number of calls from avid fans looking to get a glimpse of American Pharoah and this is a great way to showcase the stars of our sport to an audience yearning for more,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “It’s always exciting to have a Kentucky Derby winner back in training at Churchill Downs, but it’s extra special to have American Pharaoh here preparing for a possible sweep of the elusive Triple Crown. A big ‘Thank You’ goes out to our local horsemen and staff for accommodating our request to host this special training period for the horses and fans.”

As a result, training hours at Churchill Downs will be 5:45-10 a.m. daily through Tuesday, June 2 – the date many of the Belmont Stakes contenders will ship to New York. The special training period over a freshly-harrowed and congestion-free track will follow the traditional 8-8:30 a.m. renovation break.

AMERICAN PHAROAH CONTINUES GALLOPS – Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah galloped 1 3/16 miles on the Churchill Downs main track at approximately 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning under partly cloudy skies with regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez in the irons.

Jimmy Barnes, chief assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, said that the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile continues to train well and he’s happy with the way the horse looks going into the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 6.

Also on target for the Belmont Stakes is Conquest StablesConquest Curlinate, who jogged and galloped one mile under exercise rider Marco Cano for trainer Mark Casse.

Christopher Dunn, Glenn K. Ellis and Ron Paolucci’s War Story jogged one mile and galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Marvin Orantes up for trainer Tom Amoss.

Jerry Crawford’s Keen Ice galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Faustno Agular for trainer Dale Romans.

American Pharoah (Barn 33), Conquest Curlinate (Barn 36), Keen Ice (Barn 4) and War Story (Barn 29) are the locally-based Belmont Stakes contenders stabled at Churchill Downs.

The possible 11-horse Belmont Stakes lineup (with jockey and trainer): Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert); Blue Grass champ and Kentucky Derby 10th Carpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Peter Pan runner-up Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan, Mark Casse); Blue Grass fourth and Kentucky Derby 11th Frammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby 4th Frosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Louisiana Derby 4th and Kentucky Derby 7th Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans); Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Florida Derby champ and Kentucky Derby 6th Materiality (undecided, Todd Pletcher); UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby 8th Mubtaahij-IRE (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart); and Louisiana Derby 3rd and Kentucky Derby 16th War Story (Colby Hernandez).

XTRA LUCK EXITS LOUISVILLE HANDICAP IN GOOD ORDERCliff and Michelle Love’s Xtra Luck, 1 ½-length victor of Saturday’s $100,000 Louisville Handicap (GIII), exited the 1 ½-mile turf marathon well, according to trainer Neil Howard, who collected his first graded stakes win since Machen won the 2011 Derby Trial (GIII).

“He seemed pretty good and didn’t look too knocked out,” said Howard, who says there’s a good chance the 4-year-old son of Exchange Rate could make a trip to Chicago’s Arlington Park for the $100,000 Stars & Stripes (GIII) at 1 ½ miles on turf on July 11. “Obviously with a horse like him that would be a good spot for him but I’ll talk to the Loves about it. I think that with a horse like him those marathon type races are where they can really excel. He’s good at a mile-and-an-eighth, but I think he likes to go longer.”

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s For Greater Glory, the Lou ’Cap runner-up in only his second start on turf, also exited the race in good order for trainer Steve Hobby. His other start on grass came in an allowance race last year where he ran third behind Golden Soul, the third-place finisher in Saturday’s race. The trainer said that the son of Afleet Alex had high energy after the race and was jumping and playing coming back to the barn. “He ran awesome,” Hobby said aboard his stable pony Chindi. “I don’t know where we’ll run him next yet. Yesterday was kind of a trial thing, so I don’t know where we’ll go. I don’t know if it was the distance or the turf that he liked.”

Gallant StablesMajestic Harbor was a disappointing ninth and last and was beaten 11 ½ lengths. This was the 7-year-old son of Rockport Harbor’s third time trying the turf. “He came out fine, but I don’t think he’ll ever see the grass again,” said trainer Paul McGee.

Majestic Harbor also was under consideration for the June 6 Brooklyn Handicap (GII) on the Belmont Stakes undercard, which McGee said has now been “pretty much ruled out.” “We may nominate to the Stephen Foster and see how that plays out,” McGee said.

VETERAN O’CONNOR SCORED 100TH CHURCHILL DOWNS VICTORY – Veteran local trainer Rob O’Connor scored his 100th victory at Churchill Downs on Saturday when his homebred 10-year-old Calbo ($25) won the third race, a one mile $5,000 claiming event, with jockey Francisco Torres in the irons. “If you told me when I started my career that I was going to win a hundred races at Churchill Downs, I would say that’s a good accomplishment,” O’Connor said. “I am very proud of it. I’m a hometown boy, so this means a lot to me.” O’Connor, who took out his trainer’s license in 1985, was a graduate of Louisville’s St. Xavier High School and has 434 career victories to date.

DOWN THE STRETCH – Monday’s Memorial Day feature is the 12th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. The field from the rail out (with jockey and morning line odds): You Bought Her (Shaun Bridgmohan, 12-1); Pistolpackinpenny (Jon Court, 15-1); Milam (Corey Lanerie, 6-1); Heykittykittykitty (Didiel Osorio, 8-1); Boss Barney’s Babe (Miguel Mena, 20-1); Toni’s Hollyday (James Graham, 20-1); Southern Honey (Julien Leparoux, 5-2); Enchanting Lisa (Brian Hernandez, Jr., 8-1); Spring Included (Joe Rocco Jr., 3-1); and Street Story (Florent Geroux, 9-2). The Winning Colors goes as Race 10 on Memorial Day’s 11-race card at approximately 5:20 p.m. ET. First post is 12:45 p.m. … General admission for all active and retired members of the United States armed forces is free on Monday, and there’s a special $28 Memorial Day dining package in Millionaires Row 4 available for military as well. … Track bugler Steve Buttleman will entertain Memorial Day attendees with patriotic songs following the “Call to the Post” for each race on Monday. He’s also sure to decorate the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with an abundance of U.S. flags. …Fans attending Churchill Downs on Monday are advised to avoid Southern Parkway and Third Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. due to road closures for the Subway Fresh Hike, Bike and Paddle. … Early possible starters for Saturday’s 27th running of the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) at six furlongs (with trainer) include Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (GIII) winner Alsvid (Chris Hartman); Churchill Downs Stakes (GII) runner-up Nates Mineshaft (Anne Smith); 2012 Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) winner Pataky Kid (Stephen Dunn); second-level allowance winner Viva Majorca (Ian Wilkes); and reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and American Champion Sprint Horse Work All Week (Roger Brueggemann). … Churchill Downs has a special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt that features a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at

  • Ticket Info

    Sign up for race updates and more


Thank You To Our Sponsors


Missed something? Catch up on past Churchill Downs news