American Pharoah On Special Path Heading Into 2015 Kentucky Derby
American Pharoah On Special Path Heading Into 2015 Kentucky Derby: Admittedly, when American Pharoah won the Grade II Rebel at Oaklawn Park, this author believed the soft pace and lack of competition dressed up the win. As the weeks went on, signs kept hinting that there was more to this horse, including the maiden win by workout buddy Whiskey Ticket and subsequent Grade III Illinois Derby victory. Whiskey Ticket’s record stands at 2 for 2, yet he proved to be no match for his stablemate during morning hours. Meanwhile, in the GI Arkansas Derby, American Pharoah showed that letting another horse lead is no problem, and the fractions were fast.
On online horse forums, American Pharoah has fans wondering if a Triple Crown champion is possible this year. Many famous trainers and jockeys think American Pharoah will be tough to defeat, even those going against the colt with their own Derby contenders like Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas.
“In my opinion, American Pharoah was lengths ahead of Dortmund. I have not been that impressed with a horse in a long time,” Lukas told a group of reporters outside his barn a few days ago.
Not only does Lukas think American Pharoah is better than Dortmund, he considers American Pharoah to be lengths ahead! Some handicappers think Dortmund can win the Triple Crown, too, although they are fewer in number than those believing in American Pharoah. But, Lukas clearly vouches for the latter, and a man with his experience knows a few things about this industry.
Of course, if one trainer’s opinion is not enough, then consider what Lukas’ former assistant and now high-percentage winning trainer Todd Pletcher said about American Pharoah.
“American Pharoah looks like a super horse,” Pletcher told a Newsday author.
Two great trainers hold a high opinion of American Pharoah, and many fans share those thoughts. How about a great jockey and his feelings regarding the rising star? Steve Cauthen rode the legendary Affirmed in the 1978 Triple Crown series, and together they won all three races. He used a strong adjective to describe American Pharoah as well.
“It looks like he could be a freak the way he won the Arkansas Derby, very impressive,” Cauthen said during a recent teleconference.
No jockey knows American Pharoah better than Victor Espinoza though, and perhaps Martin Garcia who exercises the colt in the mornings. Espinoza has ridden American Pharoah in all his victories and does not believe his mount has hit the bottom of the well. He had nothing but high praise for how his horse won the Arkansas Derby.
“I don’t feel like he’s running that fast, and then I look back and he’s so far ahead. He was doing it by himself and doing it easy,” the two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey explained.
That is the scariest part about American Pharoah. He could become better. Easy blowout wins tend to be overrated by the public because they stick out like a sore thumb. Still, how much faster American Pharoah could have gone if asked at Oaklawn Park remains a curious question. Besides the fact that Espinoza never asked him for his best kick, young three-year-olds generally improve as the year goes on. American Pharoah needs no significant improvement to gobble up most three-year-old races after the Triple Crown. But, if he takes an extra step, he might become a horse for the ages regardless of his Derby performance.
Some negative points exist for bettors thinking about keying American Pharoah on their tickets. His pedigree on the dam side is not ideal for 10 furlongs, and the Derby pace almost always goes on the fast side. American Pharoah can rate and pass horses, but his natural speed will put him close to the leaders. This horse possesses a world of talent. Just use caution before emptying out the betting account on him.
Follow American Pharoah on Zayat Stables, LLC twitter.
The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby is set to take place at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Gates open early at 8:00 am ET with post time for the first race at 10:30 am ET. Post time for the Kentucky Oaks is approximately 5:45 pm ET on Friday May 1, 2015. Post time for the Kentucky Derby is approximately 6:24 pm ET. Visit KentuckyDerby.com for official information.
American Pharoah Gallop on April 24, 2015