Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah continued his preparation for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) by galloping 1 3/16 miles over the Churchill Downs main track under regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.
The homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile galloped under partly cloudy skies and a temperature of 65 degrees, and this was his second time galloping over the track since arriving at trainer Bob Baffert’s stable on Monday afternoon. Baffert’s chief assistant Jimmy Barnes continues to be pleased with the manner in which the horse is moving.
“These are just our easy days, so we’re basically just keeping him happy and keeping some weight on him,” Barnes said. “We don’t get serious until another week or so.”
As far as getting serious goes, Barnes is still unsure as to when the Triple Crown hopeful will resume breezing, and said that Baffert, who returns to Louisville for a one-day stopover on Tuesday, will determine when the horse will work.
“He hasn’t decided whether he will have one or two workouts,” Barnes said. “He should be letting me know soon. He’ll fly in Monday evening and will be in on Tuesday morning and I’m sure that’s when he will start deciding.”
Barnes said that the horse will likely ship to Belmont Park on Tuesday June 2.
Meanwhile, a couple of American Pharoah’s potential Belmont Stakes challengers, Keen Ice and Conquest Curlinate, jogged on the Churchill Downs main track. The connections of both contenders are happy with the way their horses are training.
“He came out of his work good and jogged this morning. Everything looks perfect.” said trainer Dale Romans said of Jerry Crawford’s Keen Ice, who breezed six furlongs in 1:15 on Thursday.
Norman Casse, assistant to father Mark Casse, spoke highly of his Belmont hopeful Conquest Curlinate.
“He looked really good this morning,” Norman Casse said. “He’ll be back galloping (Sunday) morning but he looked good this morning.”
American Pharoah’s pursuit for racing immortality will mark the 14th time – and third in the last four years – since Affirmed swept all three races in 1978 that a horse has had a chance to join the 11 Triple Crown champions. According to reports, his challengers in the 1 ½-mile Belmont could include (with known jockeys) Carpe Diem, Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan), Frammento (Mike Smith), Frosted (Joel Rosario), Keen Ice, Madefromlucky, Materiality, Mubtaahij-IRE, Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens) and War Story (Colby Hernandez).
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 featuring a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.
SOUTHERN HONEY DEFENDS WINNING COLORS TITLE AGAINST NINE RIVALS – A field of 10 fillies and mares is set for Memorial Day’s featured event at Churchill Downs, the $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes (GIII) at six furlongs on the main track.
Headlining the sprint is Ashbrook Farm’s Southern Honey who’s most recent victory came when she won last year’s edition of this race at age 3 and will be making her first start since running sixth beaten six lengths in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) at Santa Anita. Trainer George “Rusty” Arnold says that the homebred daughter of Colonel John is coming into the race well after having spent a relaxing winter in Ocala, Fla.
“We brought her back in March and she’s been doing very well since then,” Arnold said via telephone from his Keeneland base. “Her works have been good and we gave her some off. She’s ready to go.”
Arnold said that he chose this race for Southern Honey because the timing was just right for her. “This just seemed like the right spot,” he said. “It’s hard to find three-other-than allowances for fillies like her, and she likes this racetrack a lot.”
Southern Honey has won two of her three starts over the Churchill Downs main track. Aside from her triumph in this race last year, she won an allowance/optional claiming race at Churchill Downs last May. Julien Leparoux has the mount on the 4-year-old filly, who was made the 5-2 morning line favorite by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.
Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Spring Included is coming into the race with two straight victories at Oaklawn Park against stakes company. The homebred daughter of Include trained by Steve Hobby triumphed in the Spring Fever and Carousel Stakes earlier this year. Like Arnold, Hobby chose this race because of the timing. “She’s coming into the race very well and the timing worked well,” Hobby said. “She’s been doing so much better since we’ve shortened her back up.”
Last year, Spring Included went 1-for-4 when running around two turns and she’ll look to add a graded stakes victory to her résumé. Her best finish against such competition was a runner-up effort in the Valley View (GIII) at Keeneland last fall behind Sparking Review. Jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. will be in the irons as the 3-1 second betting choice.
Westrock Stables’ Heykittykittykitty is coming off of a victory in the Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs Classic Distaff Sprint Stakes against Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares. Trainer Ron Moquett has her cross-entered in Monday’s RPDC Classic Distaff at Will Rogers Downs, but has stated that he is 60-40, leaning toward running her in the Winning Colors.
“She’s an Oklahoma bred, but I’d like to run here,” Moquett said. “It’s coming up to be a really nice stakes race so we’ll see what we do. We’ll probably put her in here and make some money.”
The 4-year-old daughter of Tactical Cat has been in the money in all but one of her 15 career starts when she ran a well-beaten fourth in the Oklahoma Classic Distaff Sprint last October at Will Rogers Downs. This will be her first start against graded stakes company. Jockey Didiel Osorio, also looking for his first graded stakes win, has the mount. She’s 8-1 on the morning line.
The Winning Colors 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); 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. The race is named in honor of Eugene Klein’s Winning Colors, our most recent filly to have won the Kentucky Derby in 1988 who beat the boys in the 114th running of the Run for the Roses for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Gary Stevens.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Jimmy Barnes, chief assistant to Bob Baffert, said Saturday morning that last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Bayern, who ran a disappointing sixth last time out in the Churchill Downs Handicap (GII), will likely make his next start in either the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (GI) on the June 6 Belmont Stakes undercard or the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs on June 13. … Robert E. Masterson’s Tepin, winner of the Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile (GI) breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 over the main track Friday morning for trainer Mark Casse, and the homebred daughter of Tapit remains on target for the Just A Game (GI) on the June 6 Belmont undercard. … Also for Casse, John C. Oxley’s Noble Bird worked a bullet five furlongs in :58.80 Friday, which Casse said was “about as good as I have ever seen a horse work.” He is possible for either the June 6 Metropolitan Handicap (GI) or Stephen Foster. The latter also is a possible spot for stablemate Sky Captain, who breezed five furlongs in :59.80 Friday. Casse said he could also surface in the June 6 Manhattan (GI) at Belmont Park. … Gunpowder Racing’s American Turf winner Divisidero worked a half-mile over the main track in :47.80 for trainer William “Buff” Bradley. … Forum Racing IV’s Birdatthewire breezed five furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Dale Romans and remains on target for the $750,000 Acorn Stakes (GI) on the Belmont Stakes undercard. …. At Churchill Downs’ Trackside Training Center, Midwest Thoroughbred’s champion sprinter Work All Week breezed a half-mile in :47.40 for trainer Roger Bruggemann and is likely to return in next Saturday’s $100,000 Aristides Handicap (GIII) at Churchill Downs. … 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.