The American Pharoah update: Still looking sharp, and still no decision on when he'll race next.
The first Triple Crown champion since 1978 breezed 4 furlongs in 47.60 seconds Sunday morning at Del Mar in his first timed workout since his easy win in the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park. An estimated 800 people, including his owner-breeder, Ahmed Zayat, watched the work at the seaside track near San Diego. When American Pharoah crossed the finish line, there were cheers and applause.
"He went nice. He looked like the Pharoah we know," said trainer Bob Baffert, who still was not willing to commit to running in the Travers Stakes on Aug. 29 at Saratoga. "I think he went really well, like it was nothing for him. It was really encouraging that he's still holding his form."
The long-striding colt moved easily and eagerly for his regular exercise rider, jockey Martin Garcia. Del Mar's clockers reported the other splits were 12.40 seconds for an eighth of a mile, 24.60 for a quarter-mile, 35.80 for three-eighths and 59.80 for 5 furlongs.
Del Mar head clocker John Malone said Pharoah was "well within himself." Private clocker Gary Young also was impressed, telling TVG, "I couldn't knock this work at all."
Neither could Garcia, a winner of numerous major stakes for Baffert. "It went super good," he said. "Bob just told me to work him like we usually do and make sure he gets a little bit out of it. It's like he's still getting better. This horse is unbelievable."
Baffert said he will ask Pharoah to extend himself a bit more in his next workout, perhaps next Sunday, after which a Travers decision is likely to be announced. Last week, he said he will "try to make" the Travers as long as the colt remains in top form. Zayat has said many times that if all goes well, he wants to race in the "Midsummer Derby."
"He's showing me he's doing really well," Baffert told TVG on Sunday morning. "Because we're always looking for a reason not to go [to the Travers]. If he gives us an inkling he's not ready, we won't go.
"It's work by work, gallop by gallop."