American Pharoah Set to Return for Arkansas Derby

December 10, 2019

Champion American Pharoah will be returning to Oaklawn for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11, owner Ahmed Zayat said Friday afternoon.Among the country’s leading Kentucky Derby candidates, American Pharoah opened his 2015 campaign with a front-running 6 1/4-length victory in last Saturday’s $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), the final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby.

American Pharoah was flown back to his Southern California base Monday, but Zayat said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has already decided to return the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male to Oaklawn for his final Kentucky Derby prep

“That has been the plan,” Zayat said. “Timing-wise, it works best. But also, we don’t ship unless we’re ready. And funny enough, Bob think he’s ready today. The horse has been on a tear.”

Zayat said American Pharoah “galloped like a freight train” Friday morning at Santa Anita. The Rebel marked his third consecutive victory.

The addition of American Pharoah means at least four horses are pointing for the Arkansas Derby.

Also scheduled to run in the 1 1/8-mile race are Far Right, Bold Conquest and the Truth Or Else. Far Right is the top local hope following victories in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19 and the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 22. Bold Conquest and The Truth Or Else finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Rebel.