Thousands Cheer on Pharoah During Saturday Gallop

Racing

An enthusiastic crowd greeted Triple Crown winner American Pharoah on Saturday at Monmouth Park for a routine morning gallop. (Photo By Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

An estimated crowd gathered Saturday morning at Monmouth Park to watch American Pharoah exercise. (Not a game. Not a game. We’re talkin’ about practice!)

What would be a strong crowd for a weekend raceday during the live meeting for most racetracks showed up to watch the 2015 Triple Crown winner gallop on Sunday morning.

American Pharoah will make his first start since his Belmont Stakes tour de force to complete the Triple Crown sweep in the $1.75-million William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes on Sunday. The Haskell is a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series "Win and You're In" race for the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 31.

American Pharoah has won seven straight graded stakes races on six different racetracks and by all accounts appears to be primed for a big effort in the Haskell.

“He loved the track today. He just floated over it,” said Jimmy Barnes, trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant, who supervised the colt’s final preparations until the Hall of Fame trainer arrives from his Southern California.

AMERICAN PHAROAH'S SATURDAY GALLOP

Photo By Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO

A Zayat Stables’ homebred, American Pharoah went to the track for his final preparations for the Haskell at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday during the 20-minute period reserved for Haskell runners.

The enthusiastic crowd lined the apron all the way from the top of the stretch to the clubhouse turn. It was the last chance the fans, 5,000 of whom turned out to watch the colt gallop and wildly cheer him on Friday, will have to see American Pharoah until the walkover from the backstretch before the race.

“We just want him to get a good break, get to the outside, and work his way around there. If he gets a clean trip, he’ll do the rest,” Barnes said.

TOP CLEARANCE FOLLOWED BY AMERICAN PHAROAH 

Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

In other Haskell news:

  • Keen Ice went out onto the track after American Pharoah had completed his exercise and enjoyed a perfect 1 ½-mile gallop. “We’re A-OK. He bounced around out there,” said trainer Dale Romans. “Ever since day one, I’ve had this horse he’s been better than the day before. He’s been like the basketball player who started off in J.V. and now he’s in the NBA. The way he trained this morning is as good as a horse can train.”
  • Todd Pletcher, who won the Haskell in 2013, 2007 and 2006, has three horses entered in the 2015 edition. Nonna’s Boy and Dontbetwithbruno will carry owner Repole Stables’ blue and orange colors. Multiple graded stakes winner Competitive Edge, who won the first four of his five starts by a combined margin of 30 ¾ lengths, will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The Pletcher horses will depart Saratoga early Sunday morning for the van ride to Monmouth Park.
  • Gary and Mary West’s Top Clearance galloped 1 ½ miles on the Monmouth main track this morning with American Pharoah and Keen Ice in front of the big crowd. Trainer Wayne Catalano described the gallop as “great.”
  • David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s Mr. Jordan galloped 2 1/2 early in the morning, before the crowd arrived to watch American Pharoah gallop. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said his Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes winner looked 100 percent.
  • Ralph M. Evans’ and WinStar Farm’s Upstart was out on the Saratoga Race Course surface early Saturday morning for what trainer Rick Violette termed “a great little gallop.” The Fountain of Youth Stakes winner will make his first start in the Haskell since he competed against fellow Haskell competitors American Pharoah and Keen Ice in the Kentucky Derby. He has made a strong impression in the mornings all week. “He could not be coming in to the race any better,” Violette said. “We’ll ship first thing in the morning and show up at the Shore ready to go.”  

KEEN ICE GALLOPS AT MONMOUTH

Photo By Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

$1.75-million William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes
Sunday, Monmouth Park, Race 12, Post time 5:52 p.m. ET on NBC

1 1/8 miles, dirt, 3-year-olds

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

Owner

ML

1

Upstart

Joe Bravo

Rick Violette

Ralph Evans and WinStar Farm

6-1

2

Competitive Edge

Mike Smith

Todd Pletcher

Nancy Favreau Kathy Psoinos and Michael Tabor

8-1

3

Nonna’s Boy

TBA

Todd Pletcher

Repole Stables

30-1

4

American Pharoah

Victor Espinonza

Bob Baffert

Zayat Stables

1-5

5

Mr. Jordan

Paco Lopez

Eddie Plesa

David Melin Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa

15-1

6

Keen Ice

Kent Desormeaux

Dale Romans

Donegal Racing

12-1

7

Top Clearance

Abel Castellano Jr

Wayne Catalano

Gary and Mary West

30-1

8

Dontbetwithbruno

TBA

Todd Pletcher

Repole Stables

30-1

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