Zayat Stables’ champion American Pharoah took his training up a notch Saturday when the Triple Crown winner galloped 1 ¼ miles on the Churchill Downs main track at 8:30 a.m. ET after the renovation break. Exercise rider George Alvarez was in the irons for the homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile’s first gallop since his 5 ½-length triumph in the June 6 Belmont Stakes (GI) where he became the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
“He went great,” Alvarez said of American Pharoah’s gallop. “He was a little fresh and we are very happy with the way he is training.”
American Pharoah’s regular rider Victor Espinoza was aboard stable mate Whiskey Ticket while he was galloping and liked what he saw out of the Triple Crown-winning champion.“I was in the gate and then I was waiting for him [American Pharoah] to go by me,” Espinoza said. “He looks pretty good. He looks like he hasn’t run.”
Espinoza has had a busy week after winning the Triple Crown, making appearances on The Kelly & Michael Show, the Today Show and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon among others.
“It’s been a pretty crazy week, but it’s been fun,” Espinoza said. “My life has changed quite a bit since I won the Triple Crown.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert watched his Kentucky Derby winner gallop from the main gap on the Churchill Downs backstretch.
“He needed to do something,” Baffert said. “We had to kind of take the edge off him a little bit for what he’s about to do tonight, but for what he’s been through he’s been doing really well. We couldn’t be any happier.”
American Pharoah is scheduled to parade on the main track following the fifth race on Churchill Downs’ 11-race card for Saturday night.
TRIO OF HORSES WORK TOWARD OHIO DERBY – Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s Whiskey Ticket schooled in the starting gate and breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 Saturday morning in preparation for next week’s $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Last time out, the son of Ghostzapper triumphed by nose over Conquest Stables’ Conquest Curlinate in the April 18 Illinois Derby (GIII) at Hawthorne. Jockey Victor Espinoza was in the irons for Whiskey Ticket’s breeze.
“He worked good today,” Espinoza said. “He looks very good and he’s ready for the next step.”
Also working in preparation for the July 4 Ohio Derby was Harry T. Rosenblum and Robert V. LaPenta’s Far Right. Fifteenth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands GI) last time out, the homebred son of Notional breezed a half-mile in :48.80 for trainer Ron Moquett.
"He looked perfect, I couldn’t ask for better,” Moquett said. “This is one of the best breezes that we have had with him.”
Christopher T. Dunn, Glenn K. Ellis and Ron Paolucci’s War Story also breezed Saturday. Sixteenth last time out in the Kentucky Derby, the 3-year-old son of Northern Afleet went four furlongs in :50.40 for trainer Tom Amoss.
ALSVID BREEZES FOR SMILE SPRINT – Black Hawk Stable’s Alsvid breezed for the first time since defeating last year’s Champion Sprinter Work All Week in the May 30 Aristides (GIII). The son of Officer went six furlongs in 1:12.20 for trainer Chris Hartman.
“He breezed very well this morning and looked great,” Hartman said.
The 6-year-old gelding will likely make his next start in the $250,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (GII) on July 5 at Gulfstream Park, which is a “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the Oct. 31 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) at Keeneland.
DIVISIDERO BREEZES, STILL TARGETING BELMONT DERBY – Gunpowder Farm’s Divisidero returned to the work tab Saturday morning following his victory in the May 30 Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park. The son of Kitten’s Joy breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 for trainer Buff Bradley. Divisidero remains on target for the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (GI) on July 4.
“He looks great,” Bradley said. “He’s on the right track. We just have to keep him happy and healthy. Next stop: Belmont.”