CRAWFORD | Back at Churchill, Baffert says Pharoah on track for - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Back at Churchill, Baffert says Pharoah on track for run at history

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Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah runs at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, May 26. Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah runs at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, May 26.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Bob Baffert brought his binoculars to the Churchill Downs track Tuesday morning, ready to watch his Triple Crown hopeful, American Pharoah, gallop in person.

Instead, he caught sight of the colt on Churchill's big screen, and couldn't take his eyes off him.

After American Pharoah breezed a half-mile in 48 seconds, according to Churchill Downs' clockers, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.40 with Martin Garcia aboard, Baffert said all systems are still a go for a Triple Crown bid at the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

“I really liked the way he went today,” Baffert said. “He showed a lot of energy. When he hit the track, I was on the radio talking to Martin and he really liked the way he felt. . . . He's moving like his fluid self, and came back like, you know, the right way. It's Pharoah. When he's on his game, that's the way he looks.

“I wanted to go an easy half in 49 (seconds), but once he got into the work and was clicking along, and Martin had a really good hold on him, I just told him to be really careful,” Baffert added. “He can take off and go a little fast on you. I could tell the horse was really enjoying it. As long as he's enjoying it, then you know your work was fine."

That's what Baffert was looking for in his quick run back to Louisville from California. Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes has been giving him daily, sometimes hourly, updates, but Baffert wanted to see the colt in person. Barnes will keep the horse occupied for the next week or so. Baffert said he'll return to Louisville next weekend and American Pharoah will work either Sunday or Monday, depending on the weather and track conditions, then ship to New York on Tuesday.

“It's just maintenance from here on,” Baffert said. “We'll just let him cruise around the track easy, and then ship to New York and we won't be doing much with him up there. You just hope every day — it's day-to-day here with everything.”

The horse will get new shoes on Wednesday. Baffert said American Pharoah appears to be handling the grind of the Triple Crown well. He has maintained his pre-Kentucky Derby weight of 1,178 pounds, and still seems enthusiastic about going to the track.

“I don't want to take him up there unless he's going to run his race,” Baffert said. “If he was lethargic and didn't want to work, or didn't look good in the work today, I'd take him home and stop on him for a little bit. But what I saw today looked like he was going to just keep in that mode, and hopefully he looks like that next week.

“He's really come back extremely well. I think he only had those two races (before the Derby), and they were light races, up at Oaklawn. The Derby was a hard race. I think the Derby really got him fit. And the Preakness, he looked like he handled that pretty well. Coming here, Jimmy and my staff have done a tremendous job keeping him built back up again. He makes my job easy, because he's such a good horse. What I saw today was pretty spectacular.”

Baffert came, he saw, then he headed out to catch a flight back to California, content that his colt's progress toward history is still on track.

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