American Pharoah dazzles in 'last serious drill'

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2015 3:27 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Triple Crown winner American Pharoah produced dazzling form on Tuesday in "the last serious drill of his life" while preparing for his racing farewell at the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic later this month.

The 3-year-old left his connections purring after he ran six furlongs in 1:10.80 on a sunny morning at the Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, California.

American Pharoah's owner and breeder Ahmed Zayat tweeted: "Hell yeah ... go Pharo go ... damn that was good ... awesome breeze.

"He looked fabulous -- this is the best week he's HAD!"

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert expressed bitter-sweet feelings after watching American Pharoah's impressive workout.

"This was the last serious drill of his life," Baffert, 62, told reporters. "It's sort of sad in a way to think that's the last time we get to see him work like that.

"Just to watch him breeze, sometimes I get a bit excited, the way he does things so easily. He looked fantastic today and I really feel good about the way he's coming into this race."

The Breeders' Cup Classic will be run at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky on Oct. 31, giving American Pharoah plenty of time to regroup after finishing a shocking second in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August.

"We were 50-50 as to whether or not we were going to run in that race," Baffert said of the Travers Stakes. "Unfortunately, he didn't really run his race and coming out of it, I could tell everything ... had kind of taken its toll.

"He needs the 60 days (leading into the Classic). This horse, he runs well fresh."

Baffert said American Pharoah was likely to be flown to Kentucky from California early next Tuesday.

American Pharoah entered the pantheon of U.S. thoroughbred racing's all-time greats by winning the Belmont Stakes wire-to-wire in June to become the first horse to capture the coveted 'Triple Crown' in nearly four decades.

In winning a seventh straight race, American Pharoah became the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

After making his farewell racing performance in the Breeders' Cup Classic, the muscular son of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneer of the Nile will then retire to stud.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)