03/14/2015 8:30PM

American Pharoah romps despite displaced shoe in Rebel

Coady Photography
American Pharoah, making his first start since September, romps by 6 1/4 lengths under Victor Espinoza in the Rebel Stakes.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - American Pharoah confirmed his ranking as a major player on the Kentucky Derby trail on Saturday, when he overcame a host of difficult circumstances to win his 3-year-old debut by 6 1/4 lengths in the Grade 2, $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

“It was a big day,” trainer Bob Baffert said of the successful return of American Pharoah, the champion 2-year-old male of 2014.

American Pharoah won on a track downgraded to sloppy on a rainy afternoon, despite the fact his right front shoe was displaced following an awkward start. He proceeded to lead the field past every pole to pick up 50 points Kentucky Derby eligibility points in his first race since Sept. 27.

“He showed us he can relax and enjoy very, very hard, hard circumstances,” said Ahmed Zayat, who bred and owns American Pharoah. “This is not ideal. The race on paper was for him to lose. He’s a legitimate 1-5 like the bettors made him, but it’s different when you’re on the track. He hadn’t run since September.”

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

American Pharoah ($2.80) moved right before the start of the Rebel, stumbled, grabbed himself and was later found to have a sprung, or displaced, a  shoe, said Baffert. The horse proceeded to take quick command of Saturday’s race, doling out fractions of 24.41 seconds for the opening quarter, 49.63 for the half-mile, and 1:15.22 for six furlongs. He opened up on his rivals in the stretch, and was all alone at the wire while covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.78.

Jockey Victor Espinoza called the race an easy one for American Pharoah. The horse was making just the fourth start of his career – and winning his third graded stakes. American Pharoah won his maiden in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in his second career out Sept. 3, and then captured the Grade 1 FrontRunner at Santa Anita. He was racing on a wet track for the first time and shipping outside of Southern California for the first time for the Rebel.

Baffert said American Pharoah’s next move is to be determined. . Zayat said key options include the Arkansas Derby.

Madefromlucky rallied from just off the pace for second in the Rebel and in the process picked up 20 Kentucky Derby eligibility points. He was 2 1/2lengths clear of third-place finisher Bold Conquest, who earned 10, while it was another 1  1/4 lengths back in fourth to The Truth Or Else, who picked up five points for the Kentucky Derby.

American Pharoah is a son of Pioneerof the Nile and was bred in Kentucky. He earned $450,000 for his win in the Rebel to lift his career earnings to $811,500. American Pharoah is sitting fifth on the current Kentucky Derby points leader board with a total of 60.

The Rebel was the final local stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 11.

Baffert was winning his fifth Rebel in the last six years, with his other winners Lookin At Lucky (2010), The Factor (2011), Secret Circle (2012), and Hoppertunity (2014). 

Attendance on-track was an estimated 30,000. Handle on the 11-race card from all sources was $8,443,176, with $2 million of that amount bet on-track Saturday.  







HatzOffToNixon More than 1 year ago
2/5, might have been the overlay of the decade
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
there is not a horse alive worth 2-5 - an absolutely sure fire way to lose $ at the track
TRacingLifeMore More than 1 year ago
The Kentucky Derby will be run at a brutal pace, 20 to 30 lengths faster than how American Pharoah ran here. Will he handle it? There's no evidence so far.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
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Justin A More than 1 year ago
Russell i read Privates message, I did not see anything in Privates post that said anything about Betting or New York. I take it you must be from NY based on your comment? I guess your a Hater of Baffert. I guess you will hate him more of AP does win the derby with AP or Dortmund.
private private More than 1 year ago
I have read all the comments here with regards to American Pharoahs race. There is only 2 blog post in here were someone made a real effort to make INTELLIGENT comments. Scott and David D These 2 guys cleary have their points of view. Are they right or wrong, no one knows at this point but they both gave a very good attempt at writing something useful. Seems like alot of other post in here at just to bash other peoples views. Love him or Hate him, American Pharoah and his Connections did a very good job at doing what they had to do. 1, Prove he can ship and Win. 2, Prove he is back healthy from his injury 3, Finish the race and come out of it sound. Many posts here in this blog, all the want to do is bash AP effort. I think Bob Baffert did something very smart and let me point out what it was. 1 month before the Rebel while AP was still in training Baffert said he will take AP to Oaklawn. This was a very smart thing to do, WHY you ask, Well what it kept other strong horses away from the Race. There was 4 Derby Preps in 7 days ( Gotham, TB derby, San Felipe and the Rebel ). Dont you think its funny that all the other races come up harder and the Rebel came up more easy. Yes it was a real shame that D W L's horse got injured and was not able to start in the Rebel. BUT HEY, What talk smack about AP and say he dodged the best by going to Oaklawn. Lets take the other side and say Maybe all the others Dodged AP and stayed home. Some say AP should have stayed West and took on Dortmund, but very early on in Jan 2015 Baffert said he would not run Dortmund and AP against each other and that it was Unfair to the Connects. Baffert has to do whats right for the horses and he has to give every fair chance to the Owners. Now that the Rebel is all over and the Best horse Won, Of course like he should have being that he was 2 years old colt of the year in 2014 they have a race in him and they have all the POINT's they need to enter the K Derby they will be able to test AP more in his next race to see if he can RATE off horses. Like Watchmaker says, no one knows if he can Rate yet, why? Because he has not dont it in a race yet. In his first life time race at Del Mar he seat 3rd going into the 1st turn only to back up and finish back in the field. But to go from a first race life time and then Enter a G1 and WIN easy Mind you, it was from POST P # 1 at 7F in Hand 108.95 6f and 121.48 7f This race was a big wake up to all the horse racing industry that Baffert had another good one. Love him or hate him he did what he had to do here in the Rebel. The final thing i can say about all those Doubt him, what he has done in his last 3 races makes us all fear that the Horse We Love for the K Derby is at risk of losing to American Pharoah if his Son of Pioneerof The Nile improves in his next 2 races. Lets all be peaceful and enjoy the ride to the K Derby.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Private private - first, thanks for the compliment. I even liked the way you prefaced it. I would contest one point that you made in your post though about the other preps coming up harder. I would say that the Gotham was by far the weakest of the 4 preps you mentioned. I know it's splitting hairs and probably doesn't really offer much value to the discussion, especially when you consider that the favorite won every one of the aforementioned preps. I've gone on record numerous times saying that I'm not sold on El Kabeir and maybe that's why I can't value a race that made him look like a serious Derby contender weaving his way through traffic and drawing off. He might prove me wrong, but my guess is that nobody that is currently racing in New York will have any impact in the Derby this year. You take Carpe Diem out of the Tampa Bay Derby and you have a field of horses that was no better than that of the Rebel. Actually, you could probably say the same about El Kabeir and the Gotham (even though I don't have any love for EK). The only one of the preps that seems like it could produce another "player" (beyond the obvious favorites) in this year's Derby was the San Felipe. While Dortmund had little difficulty repelling Prospect Park and Bolo, I think both could still improve. Couple that with my feeling (and many other's feelings for that matter) that Dortmund is the best of the class their efforts were solid. Quick notes: Prospect Park, first time in Stakes company and closed hard on a track that often tends to favor speed. While I don't think he was getting by Dortmund that day I still like the performance. Bolo - First time on dirt and was 3 wide the whole way. I actually think Espinosa moved him a little too early and cost him a 2nd place finish. Hopefully, that won't cost him a spot on Derby Day, because he could be the type of horse to take a flyer on if the price is right. One of the other posters made a great point about how many things occur on Derby Day and it's very common for a high priced horse to hit the board. Bolo could be an exotics player! Final note: almost all preps for the Derby come up with fairly weak fields. The cream of the crop have enough to choose from and don't have to take each other on until the Derby. It's one of the things that make the Derby so compelling. Not only have these horses not faced each other (at least not since the BC Juvenille), but they're all trying 10F's for the first time too. Gotta love it!
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
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Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
That's what I thought. Unless the horse was using glue on shoes, the nail (hoof) had a nail ripped out of it is essentially is what it is.
tra More than 1 year ago
Nice workout for Pharoah
Rick Cook More than 1 year ago
the most impressive 3 year old colt who ran yesterday was donworth at gulfstream
Kelsey More than 1 year ago
Maybe a horseman here could answer this: The headline says AP lost his shoe. The article then says "displaced" after the start. To me those are 2 different things occurring. If it was displaced, I would think the shoe just wasn't on properly but still there. The headline is clear to what happened to the shoe.
Barbara Bowen More than 1 year ago
it was still on, but sprung away from his hoof, no longer flush. I think DRF doesn't bother with accurate headlines or facts in their free stories.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Speak your mind Sister! :-)
Anna Villafane More than 1 year ago
A great public workout. Let Derby predictions begin.
Rick Cook More than 1 year ago
derby trifecta 1st=carpe diem 2nd=mubtaahij 3rd=ocho ocho ocho
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Losing the shoe bothers me as they just shrugged it off but hopefully later we don't hear that he tore it off and damaged part of the hoof.