American Pharoah ready for Travers with his 'new Nikes' on

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 24th, 2015

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported that all systems are "go" for Triple Crown champion American Pharoah ahead of Saturday's Travers (G1).

"He looks great today," Baffert told NYRA publicity Monday, one day after American Pharoah's dynamic seven-furlong drill in 1:23.20 at Del Mar.

"He was happy and he came out of it really well. He got new shoes today. He's got his new Nikes on, so he's ready.

"We're getting real excited about it. It's going to be fun. He's doing well, and we just loved the way he worked. It's pretty amazing the way he's just held his form, and he looks great.

"It's been very exciting for all of us. He's brought the Zayat family and us to just a different level. I never thought I'd get to this level of racing. You're always hoping. I was always hoping for a horse like this in a lifetime, so I'm just very fortunate that he came along, and we have him."

American Pharoah will arrive at the Spa Wednesday, accompanied by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes. In keeping with Baffert's longstanding custom when shipping his runners to New York, "Pharoah" will enjoy the hospitality of John Terranova's barn.

"We're ready," Terranova said. "We're thrilled he's coming. It's going to be a lot of fun and, hopefully, everything goes well, he ships in healthy and safe and we get another chance at seeing the super horse around us.

"They're going to come in and fluff things up a bit and kind of secure different spots around the barn, just for everybody's safety, horses and people. Hopefully, it'll all go smooth.

"He's got a great group of people around him; they're fantastic. They've got him ready on their end, and we'll do our part of help out. Whatever we need to do to make things go as smooth as they can be here, we'll do. We'll get to see him and enjoy him again and, hopefully, he gets it done. It'd be amazing. It looks like he's ready.

"He's a very intelligent horse; we've seen that already from him. It'll be fun. It's special for us just to be around a horse like that.

"We've seen a lot of good ones and Bob's had a lot of good ones that we've been real close to, but never got to see something like this. A horse like him, what he's accomplished and just his whole nature and everything about him, it's pretty unique."

In other Travers news:

Madefromlucky will skip the Travers, thereby avoiding another bout with American Pharoah. The Peter Pan (G2) and West Virginia Derby (G2) hero will now aim for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) September 19.

The decision was not entirely unexpected, in light of trainer Todd Pletcher's earlier comments about the Penn Derby being an "easier race."

In a possibly related development, John Velazquez will pick up the mount aboard Smart Transition, a resounding winner of the Curlin S. in his latest.

"We're glad to have Johnny. I think it's great," trainer John Shirreffs said. "Johnny's a fabulous rider, a Hall of Fame rider, so we're very happy.

"Like in the last race, we're just looking to have a nice trip. If he can find a place where the horse gets a good trip, I think we're in good shape."

Frammento will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, trainer Nick Zito indicated.

"He's an energetic young rider, a terrific young rider, and we like him," the Hall of Fame horseman said. "We've had so much success with him. I think he's an up-and-coming rider that makes a good impression on me."
The Travers post draw is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Druthers Brewing Company.

Fans can watch the Travers contenders during their Friday morning exercise on the Saratoga main track, an opportunity that NYRA cautions is "weather permitting."
A special window of training time (8:45 a.m. to 9 a.m.) is reserved exclusively for the Travers horses on Friday morning, as part of the breakfast at Saratoga festivities. Gates open at 7 a.m.

Note that on Friday, backstretch tram tours will not be available.

American Pharoah shown working Sunday, courtesy of Benoit.