Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah continued his training for the June 6 Belmont Stakes (GI) by galloping 1 ¼ miles over a sloppy Churchill Downs main track on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET with Jorge Alvarez up.
“He went great,” Alvarez said. “He loves the slop.”
Jimmy Barnes, chief assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, also was pleased with how the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile galloped over the sloppy going.
“He went very nice and looked good,” Barnes said. “He likes an off track. Everything seems fine.”
American Pharoah is 2-for-2 on an off track. His two wins in the slop came in the Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park and the May 16 Preakness.
Baffert is scheduled to fly into Louisville from California on Monday night to oversee his string of 12 horses that are stabled at Churchill Downs. Aside from American Pharoah, he has last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Bayern and 2014 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) winner Hoppertunity in training at Churchill Downs. Barnes said that Baffert would determine Tuesday morning when American Pharoah would resume breezing.
Baffert is expected to be at Barn 33 Tuesday morning and will return to California later that day.
In other Belmont Stakes news, Conquest Stables’ Conquest Curlinate jogged and galloped one mile with exercise rider Jorge Balbuena in the irons for trainer Mark Casse.
Christopher Dunn, Glenn K. Ellis and Ron Paolucci’s War Story galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Marvin Orantes up for trainer Tom Amoss.
Jerry Crawford’s Keen Ice galloped 1 ½ miles with exercise rider Faustno Agular in the irons 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.
BELMONT STAKES POSSIBLE FIELD – 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 10thCarpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Peter Pan runner-up Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan, Mark Casse); Blue Grass fourth and Kentucky Derby 11thFrammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby 4thFrosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Louisiana Derby 4th and Kentucky Derby 7thKeen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans); Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Florida Derby champ and Kentucky Derby 6thMateriality (undecided, Todd Pletcher); UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby 8thMubtaahij-IRE (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart); and Louisiana Derby 3rd and Kentucky Derby 16thWar Story (Colby Hernandez).
FANS INVITED TO WATCH SPECIAL 8:30-8:45 A.M. TRAINING FOR BELMONT CONTENDERS – With Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah and three other Belmont Stakes contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs Racetrack is offering a special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for those horses through Tuesday, June 2. 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 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 http://www.kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live 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.
Despite rainfall and short notice, more than 100 fans attended Monday’s debut of the special training session.
SPECIAL BELMONT STAKES DAY BOX SEAT PACKAGE – 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 www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.
DEPARTING ON TRACK FOR SATURDAY’S OPENING VERSE – Claiborne Farms and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing is on track for Saturday’s $65,000 Opening Verse overnight stakes, which will be the son of War Front’s first start on turf and his first start since a seventh-place effort in last year’s Clark Handicap.
“His last work over the turf was good so we’re still going,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said.
The 5-year-old gelding put in two solid works over the Matt Winn Turf Course, breezing five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.80 and 1:01.60, respectively on May 14 and May 21. Jockey Robby Albarado has the mount.
Other probable contenders for 1 1/16-mile event on the Matt Winn Turf Course (with trainer) include Chocolate Ride (Brad Cox), Frac Daddy (Kenny McPeek) and Hip Four Sixtynine (Shane Wilson).
GENTLEMEN’S BET MAY TRY ARISTIDES – Saturday’s $100,000 Aristides Stakes (GIII) added another possible starter to its list with Harry T. Rosenblum’s Gentlemen’s Bet, who ran fourth in the Churchill Downs (GII) last time out. Trainer Ron Moquett said he is 50-50 between the Aristides and the June 5 True North (GII) at Belmont Park. Other potential contenders for the six-furlong sprint (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 (GI) winner and American Champion Sprinter Work All Week (Roger Bruggemann).
LEPAROUX WINS FOUR ON SUNDAY – Jockey Julien Leparoux had a big day Sunday, winning four races on Churchill Downs’ 10-race card. The native of Senlis, France scored victories aboard Political Justice ($8.20), Venus de Milo ($5.40), Dreaming of Gold ($4) and Kathballu ($13.80). Leparoux now has 20 wins on the meet, trailing Corey Lanerie who has 21.
“It feels great when you win races,” Leparoux said. “I knew coming in we had a good chance. Everything went smooth yesterday. All of my horses ran really big. There’s still a long way and I have to travel quite a bit in June. What really matters is that I have had a good meet so far.”
Leparoux is named on nine mounts on Churchill’s Memorial Day card, including Ashbrook Farms’ Southern Honey, the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the featured event, the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII).