American Pharoah’s return to worktab brings sense of Déjà vu

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 26th, 2015

Tuning up for his date with destiny, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 6, American Pharoah returned to the worktab Tuesday at Churchill Downs with another eye-catching exercise, breezing four furlongs in 48 seconds with exercise rider Martin Garcia.

The supremely talented colt continues to do things effortlessly, galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40 and six furlongs in 1:13.20, and doesn’t look like a three-year-old who is feeling the strain from the demands of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby and 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes in recent weeks.

“I really like the way he went today,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He showed like he had a lot of energy. When he hit the track I was on the radio talking to Martin and he really liked the way he felt and he just took off going really easily. I told Martin to just let him keep going. I really liked the way he went.”

Tuesday’s workout was American Pharoah’s first since April 26, his final Kentucky Derby move at Churchill Downs that inspired a slew of accolades (Turns Dial to 11 & AP creates a Stir) and cemented his status as the post-time favorite.

And the vibe feels the same as American Pharoah prepares for the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion” at Belmont Park.

“I’m really happy with what he did,” Garcia said after Tuesday’s work. “He came back like (it was) nothing. He loves to run. He’s getting more mature and I think right now he’s starting to realize what’s going on and he likes it.”

The champion two-year-old has stretched his win streak to six, recording a one-length decision on Derby Day before a smashing seven-length, tour-de-force performance at Pimlico, and Thoroughbred racing fans can agree the Triple Crown is there for the taking if American Pharoah shows up with his best.

The demands of three tough races in a five-week span are extreme, though, derailing many capable candidates since Affirmed recorded the last sweep in 1978, and fatigue is the one element impossible to quantify.

American Pharoah wasn’t showing any signs of being worn down Tuesday morning. In fact, the impressive colt revs up the excitement level every time his connections allow him to do more than gallop in the mornings.

“The way he’s been running and the things he has done, he’s done very easily and I think he’s going to (do) it,” Garcia said. “Before, he was green and he really didn’t know what was going on. He’s starting to realize what is (going on) now. He’s learning really well.”

“As for what I saw today I don’t see any regression,” Baffert added.

Baffert plans to breeze his charge once more, either on Sunday or Monday, and we’ll be looking forward to it.