10/09/2015 10:02AM

American Pharoah, Beholder work for Classic

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Barbara D. Livingston
American Pharoah worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Friday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – American Pharoah and Beholder, the top two ante-post choices for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31, both worked just minutes apart Friday morning at Santa Anita, causing Richard Mandella, Beholder’s trainer, to remark, “We should have just worked them in company.”

Both worked without company at around 6:35 a.m., shortly after the first of the three renovation breaks. It was ladies first, as Beholder came onto the track shortly before American Pharoah and was the first of the two to drill. This was her first work since capturing the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes 13 days earlier.

Exercise rider Janine Painter was aboard Beholder, who started her work at the half-mile pole and continued out to the seven-furlong pole for a five-furlong drill. Santa Anita’s clockers had her in 1:02, and because Beholder was going along so easily, they designated the work as “breezing,” which is given out stingily in California. Most works here are labeled "handily." Of the 112 works at Santa Anita on Friday, only Beholder's was labeled "breezing."

“She was just cruising. We weren’t looking to do much,” Mandella said. “She couldn’t look much better.”

Beholder is scheduled to have one more work at Santa Anita next week before leaving for Keeneland on Oct. 19. She will have her final work for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

Beholder, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, is a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner, having captured the Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the Distaff in 2013. If she wins the Classic, she will be the first horse to win three different Breeders’ Cup races.

American Pharoah, the Triple Crown winner and last year’s champion 2-year-old male, had regular work rider Martin Garcia aboard for his drill, officially five furlongs in 1:01.20. As with Beholder, American Pharoah broke off closer to the half-mile pole and went out into the clubhouse turn, a fairly common practice for workouts for trainer Bob Baffert.

“I didn’t want to do a whole lot,” Baffert said. “We start to get serious next week.”

After Friday’s work, Garcia let American Pharoah gallop out all the way into the backstretch and let him continue around to upper stretch instead of pulling him up on the backside and coming back clockwise along the outside fence. Baffert, walking along the apron, met up with Garcia and American Pharoah near the furlong pole. After Garcia maneuvered American Pharoah to the outside fence, he said to Baffert, “He’s feeling really good.”

Baffert elaborated, saying, “He wanted to do more.”

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This was the fourth work for American Pharoah since the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, his lone loss this year. He will have all his pre-Breeders’ Cup workouts at Santa Anita before heading to Kentucky for the final start of his career.

Baffert and Mandella watched the works about 150 yards from one another, but both kept their eyes on their chief rivals. As American Pharoah came through the lane moments after Beholder, Mandella said, “This guy is working pretty good, too.”

Baffert said he waited for Beholder to complete her work before telling Garcia, via radio, to turn American Pharoah loose.

“They always work good,” Baffert said.

By 6:50, both horses were off the track.

“What do we do now?” Baffert asked. “Go back to bed?”