Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Xpressbet.com Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner American Pharoah returned to the Churchill Downs racetrack May 28 for a clockwise jog once around the mile oval.
The 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile , preparing for a sweep of the Triple Crown in the 147th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 6, walked around Barn 33 May 27 after breezing a half-mile in :48 the day before.
"He felt great, no different," exercise rider Jorge Alvarez said Thursday. "He's a running machine. All he wants to do is run. When we go to a different track, nothing changes. He doesn't have to take his racetrack with him. He'll run on anything."
Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, also was pleased with how Zayat Stables' homebred 3-year-old jogged during Churchill's special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training session exclusive to Belmont Stakes contenders.
"From what we saw, I thought he looked very good," said Barnes, who rode Baffert's pony Smokey alongside American Pharoah during the exercise. "He jogged almost every step of the way and felt strong. He looked super good. I've been asked just about every question so far except for the big one—'Can he do it?'—and I think that he can."
Barnes said American Pharoah is scheduled to resume galloping May 29 at 8:30 a.m. Baffert, who was in town for Tuesday's workout, is scheduled to return to Louisville from his Southern California base May 30. Baffert said Tuesday that American Pharoah could work May 31 or June 1. Barnes speculated on Thursday that Sunday at 8:30 a.m. is the more likely of the two options.