American Pharoah 'Perfect' After Rebel Score
March 15, 2015 11:26am

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said American Pharoah is scheduled to return to his Southern California base Monday following his devastating wire-to-wire victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn. American Pharoah earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for his 6 ¼-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile race, Baffert’s fifth in the last six years.
American Pharoah was making his highly anticipated 2015 debut after being named the country’s champion 2-year-old male. Baffert didn’t travel from the West Coast for the Rebel, but said early Sunday afternoon that American Pharoah came out of the race well.
“This horse, he does things effortlessly,” Baffert said. “It wasn’t really taxing on him. It turned out all right. He didn’t have go too fast early.”
American Pharoah bobbled at the start and dislodged his right front shoe, but quickly recovered to make an easy lead under regular rider Victor Espinoza. Following soft fractions of :24.41, :49.63 and 1:15.22, American Pharoah drew off through the stretch to complete 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy track in 1:45.78.
“I thought he ran great,” Baffert said.
A Kentucky Derby qualifying race, the Rebel gave American Pharoah 50 points, assuring himself a spot in the field. Baffert said he will monitor American Pharoah’s training at Santa Anita before deciding on his final Kentucky Derby prep, but the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11 is an option. Baffert and American Pharoah’s owner (Zayat Stables) teamed to win the Arkansas Derby in 2012 with Bodemeister.
Bold Conquest and The Truth Or Else, third and fourth, respectively, in the Rebel are being pointed for the Arkansas Derby.

Finish Lines
Gold Medal Dancer will be pointed for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 10 following Saturday’s victory in the $300,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares, trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said … Pippin and Bayakoa (G3) Stakes winner Mufajaah has been retired following her third-place finish in the Azeri Stakes (G2) confirmed trainer Danny Peitz via text … Trainer Brad Cox said Carve exited his fourth-place finish in Saturday’s $250,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses in good order, but next-race plans are pending for the multiple stakes winner. “Just wasn’t our day,” Cox said. “That’s about it.” Cox said he will look at the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 11, but it’s “definitely not the No. 1 choice.” “We’ll just kind of see who comes for it,” Cox said. “Obviously, we’re here.” Trainer Kenny McPeek said Golden Ticket, third in the Razorback, will likely make his next start in the $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes (G3) April 11 at Keeneland. … McPeek said Flashy American, fifth in the Azeri, will likely make her next start in the $100,000 Doubledogdare (G3) April 17 at Keeneland. … Trainer Billy Gowan said no decision has been made on the next start for Ride On Curlin, who ran sixth in the Razorback. … The Arkansas State Racing Commission voted unanimously Saturday morning to reduce leading jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.’s suspension from three days to one day. Stewards suspended Santana three racing days (March 5-7) for an incident shortly after the start of a Feb. 22 sprint, but the jockey appealed the ruling to the commission. Santana will serve his suspension Friday, said his agent, Ruben Munoz. … Champion Take Charge Brandi is scheduled to return to Oaklawn Tuesday following surgery last week at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. Take Charge Brandi is expected to be sidelined 60 days (non-displaced knee chip). … Oaklawn set season highs for attendance (estimated 30,000), on-track handle ($2,032,528) and off-track handle ($6,410,647). … Alex Collins, Arkansas’ standout junior tailback, attended Saturday’s races.

Source: Oaklawn Park Barn Notes


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