American Pharoah continues to please in first tour of Saratoga
"Boy, he was happy on the track this morning. I really liked what we saw today," assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said. "Very high energy. From what I saw yesterday afternoon, it looked like he needed to gallop; he was too happy, too fresh."
Exercise rider Jorge Alvarez likewise picked up on the colt's positive vibe.
"Every time you go to a different track, you want to see how the horse handles it. We were pretty happy with how he did it today," Alvarez said. "He was very professional. I've been so lucky to ride him. We've been to so many different tracks and he's pretty much the same. The biggest thing is we wanted to make sure he handled the track good, and he did great. We're feeling very good."
Later Thursday morning, American Pharoah made an appearance to scope out the paddock.
"He's good in the paddock," Barnes said. "We just want to let him have a look at it. It's just kind of a formality, a routine that we go through. We don't want to change anything. He settles in very easily."
While the champ stretched his legs over 1 1/16 miles Thursday, plans call for the Bob Baffert trainee to cover his more usual territory -- 1 1/2 to 1 5/8 miles on the main track Friday. His exercise will take place during the exclusive training time for the Travers horses, 8:45 - 9 a.m. (EDT).
"I kind of like two days of galloping to let him get over the track," Barnes revealed. "He tends to maybe look around a bit the first day, and the second day he should be right on schedule, all business/
"You just want to see that he's comfortable. He pretty much floats over any track that we take him to you. How quick he gets back around to you, that's what I find amazing. I'll turn him loose and it seems like in the matter of a minute or two he's already back around again."
Barnes is well aware of the historical magnitude of what American Pharoah is trying to achieve: the only Triple Crown winner to prevail in the Travers is Whirlaway in 1941.
"It would mean so much to us and to the fans and everybody. They really want to see something like this happen. We're really excited about it, and I think he's got a good chance to do it."
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher.