American Pharoah draws well, early 1-5 favorite in eight-horse Haskell

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July 30th, 2015

Thursday’s post position ceremonies worked out perfectly for American Pharoah, who will break from post 4 in Sunday’s $1.75 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park.

Last seen posting a spectacular 5 ½-length victory in the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown champion will face seven rivals in the 1 1/8-mile event.

“He’s holding his form really well, that’s key for what he’s been through” trainer Bob Baffert said after the draw. “I don’t see anything that would keep him from running his race.”

Monmouth Park oddsmaker Brad Thomas installed the Zayat Stables homebred as the 1-5 favorite on the morning line with regular rider Victor Espinoza.

“I think American Pharoah probably deserves that,” Baffert noted.

A son of Pioneerof the Nile, American Pharoah will bring a seven-race win streak into the Haskell. The bay colt was named champion two-year-old male last year after posting wins in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and FrontRunner (G1).

He came back from nearly a five-month layoff in mid-March, rolling to a convincing victory in the Rebel (G2), and prepped for the Kentucky Derby (G1) with an eight-length romp in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

The Kentucky Derby represented the only time since his career debut that American Pharoah was tested, posting a hard-fought one-length decision at Churchill Downs, and the bay colt made that performance look like an aberration two weeks later at Pimlico, crushing foes in a seven-length Preakness tour-de-force.

American Pharoah received a few weeks off after the June 6 Belmont, returning to the worktab in late June, and shows seven official moves in preparation for the Haskell, including three works over a 10-day period (July 18-28). He appears ready to roll on Sunday.

“We’re just having fun with him,” Baffert said.

Grade 2 winner Upstart is the 6-1 second choice on the morning line. Competitive Edge come next at 8-1 and is one of three Todd Pletcher entrants along with Don’tbetwithbruno  (30-1) and Nona’s Boy (30-1).

Completing the Haskell field are Keen Ice (12-1), Mr. Jordan (15-1) and Top Clearance (30-1).

American Pharoah photo at Monmouth Park Thursday morning courtesy of Ryan Denver/Equi-Photo