The obvious question is whether American Pharoah, a colt gifted with excellent speed, has the stamina to master the "Test of the Champion," the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Dual grade I winner and first-crop sire Pioneerof the Nile saw his first winner May 12 as juvenile filly Zarnica won her first start in a 1,000-meter race in Russia at the Rostov-On-Don Hippodrome.
Zayat Stables' homebred Pioneerof the Nile, second in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), breezed a half-mile in :47 3/5 at Churchill Downs May 11 as the Empire Maker colt prepped for the May 16 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The time was fourth-fastest of the morning among 48 horses working four furlongs.
A full sister to Pioneerof the Nile, one of the leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), was foaled April 23.
A lack of pace changed the game plan for odds-on choice Pioneerof the Nile, but jockey Garrett Gomez improvised, enabling the son of Empire Maker to hold off Chocolate Candy for a one-length win in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on a picture-perfect day in Arcadia, Calif.
Odds-on choice Pioneerof the Nile got the test he needed in preparation for his big showdown with The Pamplemousse next month, turning back a challenge in the stretch to win the $200,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita March 14.
Triple Crown contender Pioneerof the Nile, overcoming traffic problems on the final turn, charged from the back of the pack to win the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) in the final strides over 17-1 shot Papa Clem at Santa Anita Feb. 7.
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
Pioneerof the Nile, winner of the CashCall Futurity (gr. I), is one of three Empire Maker sons whose recent performances have helped grow their sire's reputation among breeders. The others are Daiwa Prevail (JPN) and Summer's Empire.
Heavily favored Pioneerof the Nile, who took over the stall of Midshipman when the Breeder's Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner departed trainer Bob Baffert's barn for Dubai this fall, proved he earned it when he narrowly held off I Want Revenge in an exhilarating renewal of the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park Dec. 20.
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