In our Preakness profiles, we look into each of Saturday’s Preakness contenders.
Who is American Pharoah?
The winner of the Kentucky Derby heads to the Preakness as the only contender having four Grade 1 wins on his resume and is the deserved favorite in the Preakness field. He has five wins in six starts, with his only loss coming in the first race of his career in maiden special weight company. American Pharoah won at next asking as the favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and followed that up with a win in the G1 Front Runner at Santa Anita. The expected heavy favorite in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile , he was sidelined with an injury to his left front leg in the days leading up to that race. American Pharoah’s three year old campaign included wins in the G2 Rebel and G1 Arkansas Derby as preps for the Kentucky Derby, where he fought off a valiant challenge by second place finisher Firing Line and held on for the win.
What they’re saying about American Pharoah
“He’s just so good and special,” says his trainer Bob Baffert as reported by The Boston Globe. “He was born with talent. With more racing, he’s getting smarter. He has that long stride, he’s quick, he’s got a really good mind, and he just floats over the ground.” Dortmund’s jockey Martin Garcia, who has worked both Dortmund and American Pharoah, called American Pharoah “a freak,” and American Pharoah’s owner Ahmed Zayat told The Bloodhorse before the Derby, “From day one, American Pharoah has been an absolute superstar.” Coming into the Preakness, Baffert has reported that “Pharoah . . . looks great. His color is good.”
Why he could win
American Pharoah has posted triple digit Beyers in his last five races and has five graded stakes wins, besting all his competitors in both categories. With his Kentucky Derby win, American Pharoah proved that he can get the Preakness distance, and his performance in that race erased any concerns that he might give way if seriously challenged by a competitor. His trainer, Bob Baffert, knows how to prepare a horse to win the Preakness; Baffert’s three previous Derby winners – Silver Charm, Real Quiet, and War Emblem – all went on to win the Preakness.
Why he could lose
After the Kentucky Derby, Baffert said that the 16th post position was “where I wanted to be.” Breaking from the rail, he might be forced to gun for the lead earlier than desirable. If American Pharoah gets caught in an early speed duel, a hot pace scenario might set up another horse for the win. Alternatively, if Dortmund breaks on top and gets an uncontested lead (unlikely), he might steal the win, as he has the highest Beyer speed figure (106) of all contenders. [su_box title=”AMERICAN PHAROAH FILE” style=”glass”]
- Trainer Bob Baffert
- Owner Zayat Stables LLC
- Jockey Victor Espinoza
- Bred in Kentucky by Zayat Stables
- Breeding Pioneerof the Nile-Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman
- Record 6-5-0-0, earnings of $2,830,300
- Career highlights 1st place in the G1 Kentucky Derby
- Morning line odds 4-5[/su_box]