Barn Notes: American Pharoah Back to Gallops; ‘Everything is Super Positive’

December 10, 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, May 29, 2015) – Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah, preparing for a sweep of the Triple Crown in the 147th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 6, had a schooling session in the Churchill Downs starting gate and resumed galloping around the one-mile oval on Friday morning.

Zayat Stables’ homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile went to the fast main track under regular exercise rider Jorge Alvarez at 8:30 a.m. during Churchill Downs’ special 15-minute training session exclusive to Belmont Stakes contenders after the renovation break. American Pharoah spent a brief period standing in the auxiliary starting gate at the top of the stretch and then galloped 1 1/8 miles, according to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes.

“Everything was great this morning – no problem,” Alvarez said. “He looked real professional. This is good what they’re doing by closing the track for us and letting us train. That makes my job a lot easier.”

Barnes said that American Pharoah would likely gallop 1 ¼ miles on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

“You see everything that you expect to see,” Barnes said. “Nothing alarming; everything is super positive. This is absolutely normal going into any race the way that we’re doing. We have really nothing to deal with other than keeping him happy. Everything is going smooth.”

Baffert is scheduled to return to Louisville from his Southern California base on Saturday night, and American Pharoah could breeze Sunday or Monday with the former the more likely of the two, according to Barnes.

In other Belmont Stakes news, Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice jogged two miles at 8:30 a.m. with regular exercise rider Faustino Aguilar in the irons for trainer Dale Romans.

McPEEK GIVES 11 REASONS WHY THE TRUTH OR ELSE ENTERED BELMONT PICTURE – Trainer Kenny McPeek and jockey Edgar Prado are no strangers to spoiling Triple Crown bids. It was 13 years ago that they teamed to ruin trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza’s Triple Crown chance with War Emblem when Sarava scored a 70-1 shocker in the 2002 Belmont Stakes.

Harold Lerner’s The Truth Or Else, who won a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park on May 22, entered this year’s Belmont fray Thursday and hopes to deliver a crushing blow to American Pharoah. The Yes It’s True colt has a 12-2-1-3—$294,137 career record but has two wins and a second in three starts over the massive Belmont oval. On Friday, McPeek sent a text message with 11 reasons as to why he’s running The Truth Or Else in the Belmont Stakes. It read as follows:

1. My horse loves the Belmont track. [He has] two starts and two wins over a dry Belmont. 2. [He is out of a] Colonial Affair mare and should get the distance

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3. He is a very sturdy horse. He eats well and is completely sound. He’s a throwback type of horse. 4. We’ve got nothing to lose, they pay down to eighth place 5. Edgar Prado has been there before and he knows the track and distance 6. The Truth Or Else is bigger and stronger than Sarava and Atigun (third in 2012 Belmont) 7. Confidence builder last race in a good time and excellent speed figure. His last two races set him up for this. 8. Harold and Helen Lerner are from the New York area. This would be special for them. 9. The Truth Or Else has been based at Belmont most of his career, we don’t have to ship him. 10. Weird things happen in the Belmont. Never duck one horse. American Pharoah could possibly not handle the surface. 11. I’m completely crazy, but I have no fear of failure. We only live once. Let’s do this!

BELMONT STAKES POSSIBLE FIELD – The possible 10-horse Belmont Stakes lineup (with jockey and trainer): Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert); Blue Grass champ and Kentucky Derby 10th Carpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Blue Grass fourth and Kentucky Derby 11th Frammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby 4th Frosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Louisiana Derby 4th and Kentucky Derby 7th Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans); Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Florida Derby champ and Kentucky Derby 6th Materiality (undecided, Todd Pletcher); UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby 8th Mubtaahij-IRE (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart); and recent Belmont Park first-level allowance winner The Truth Or Else (Edgar Prado, Kenny McPeek).

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