10/28/2014 12:46PM

Foot problem forces American Pharoah out of Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Barbara D. Livingston
American Pharoah training Sunday at Santa Anita, two days before a foot injury forced him out of the Breeders' Cup.

ARCADIA, Calif. – American Pharoah, expected to be a heavy favorite, was scratched from Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Tuesday due to an injury, his connections announced.

A devastated Bob Baffert, who trains American Pharoah for Ahmed Zayat, said the problem is with the colt’s left front foot. X-rays and an ultrasound had come back negative, he said. Baffert said he hopes it’s a “deep, deep foot bruise” but planned to perform a nuclear scan on the horse later this week.

“It’s not soft tissue, it’s not bone,” Baffert said. “The horse never had a bad day. It’s sickening.”

Baffert said he noticed that American Pharoah was off Monday morning, one day after he put in his final workout over Santa Anita’s main track.

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American Pharoah was the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Juvenile based on dominant victories in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita. His subsequent training had Baffert extremely excited about running him in the Juvenile.

“We all saw the way he was training,” Baffert said. “He’s something special. I hadn’t had a colt like this in a long time. It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow. He’s going to be okay, but it’s just the timing – it’s a killer. It’s the most disappointing thing coming up to a race for a scratch like this I’ve ever been through.”

Baffert added, “I just never had one coming up so perfect.”

Zayat, by phone from New Jersey, said American Pharoah is the best horse he has ever owned, and he wasn’t willing to wait a few days to see if the horse got better.

“When he’s that special and that good, you treat him as such,” Zayat said of American Pharoah, a homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile. “He’s off today – I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. This horse was going to win off the screen. My whole family is crying. It’s an incredible blow to all of us.”

With the scratch of American Pharoah, Santa Anita linemaker Jon White has made Daredevil the 5-2 favorite, with his stablemate Carpe Diem the 3-1 second choice. There will now be 12 runners in the race.

Baffert and Zayat both have a horse in the Juvenile. Baffert runs the maiden winner One Lucky Dane, an 8-1 shot on the morning line, while Zayat has Mr. Z, a 15-1 shot trained by D. Wayne Lukas.

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On Tuesday, Baffert didn’t have the desire to look ahead to the Juvenile or any of the Breeders’ Cup races.

“I really lost a lot of the excitement” for the Breeders’ Cup, Baffert said. “You get to the barn, and you want to vomit.”