CRAWFORD | American Pharoah completes final pre-Belmont work, sh - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | American Pharoah completes final pre-Belmont work, ships to New York on Tuesday

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American Pharoah arrives back at the barn after his final pre-Belmont workout on Monday morning at Churchill Downs. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) American Pharoah arrives back at the barn after his final pre-Belmont workout on Monday morning at Churchill Downs. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — American Pharoah went to the Churchill Downs track one last time Monday morning, breezing five furlongs in an easy 1:00.20 in the rain.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who admitted Sunday that he sometimes has trouble sleeping the night before an important work, said he had no such trouble Sunday night, though the rain Monday morning was a surprise.

“I just didn't want to work over a sealed racetrack,” he said. “But everything went really well. I was worried about the rain a little bit, but the track was in perfect shape, and he went around really nice. He went just as we thought . . . just kept on clicking and running along, so I was really happy with that. So now we play the waiting game.”

CRAWFORD | Again at the doorstep of history, Baffert taking this Triple Crown chase in stride

American Pharoah will leave Churchill Downs at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a charter flight to the Belmont. Baffert said he and his family are heading to New York, but will stay in the city instead of on Long Island, where Belmont Park is located.

“The last few years we've gone we've stayed in the city,” he said. “It's more fun. You go in there, if you're going to be in New York you might as well stay in the city. Get a driver, leave early, go to the track in the morning, train, come back for the afternoon, we can go walk around, check out different things. (Buffet's wife) Jill loves to go to the stores, check it out, see what's out. I'll be training in the mornings and a tourist in the afternoon.”

Baffert said he met with his team on Sunday and talked about expectations of media requests in New York, and how they were going to try to handle those. But mainly, his work is done. His job now is to keep the horse happy and healthy, and get him to the gate in the right condition to run.

"Right now I feel pretty good about him that he's doing this well, but he has to break clean," Baffert said. "My son Bode and I were talking about (Belmont track and NBC announcer) Larry Collmus and how he's going to call the race and Bode was in the backseat and he goes, 'All I know is I hope he says, 'And they're off in the Belmont, and American Pharoah breaks beautifully.' That's good, we want to hear that.”

Baffert says he's calmer than he was with Real Quiet, Silver Charm or even War Emblem when those horses headed to New York for their Triple Crown bids. 

"I'm more relaxed as I've gotten older so I've mellowed out a lot,” he said. “I feel pretty confident the way this horse is coming into it, how he needs to train, getting ready for it. Once I hear the song 'New York, New York,' that's like our two minute warning; that means its close. Once I hear that song I start feeling excited, it kind of livens it up a bit, just like when they play 'My Old Kentucky Home' ... you know it's coming."

Now that his final work before the race is complete, Baffert knows the time has almost come.

“I know going up there that we're up against it, but we're hoping it can happen,” he said. “But the letdown is big. In those other races (when he lost with Silver Charm, Real Quiet and War Emblem) we were so close, but the horses ran their race and just got beat. Then it all ends. Like, the phone quits ringing and everything stops, right there. . . . I just know these kinds of horses don't come around very often, so we're going to try to enjoy it.”

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